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Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, appeared on Al Jazeera English to speaks of Pope Francis' Visit to Myanmar, November 28, 2017. Salt and Light / screen grab
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‘No formal diploma’: Jerusalem college denies Rosica’s claim they gave him ‘advanced degree’

Dorothy Cummings McLean Dorothy Cummings McLean Follow Dorothy
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Screen grab from Salt and Light's website where it states Fr. Rosica has an 'advanced degrees' from universities, including the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem. Saltandlighttv.org / screen grab

TORONTO, March 6, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) ― Vatican spokesman and Salt + Light CEO Father Thomas Rosica — currently at the center of a plagiarism scandal — does not hold an advanced degree from a graduate school in Jerusalem despite his claims to the contrary. 

Rosica’s official biography at Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation claims that he “holds advanced degrees in Theology and Sacred Scripture from Regis College in the Toronto School of Theology [1985], the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome [1991] and the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem [1994].”

However, the École Biblique et Archéologique Française de Jérusalem (EBAF) informed LifeSiteNews on March 5 that the media priest has neither a degree nor a diploma from them. 

“Here is what we can say,” wrote EBAF’s director, Jean Jacques Pérennès:

“Fr. Rosica came here in 1991, from the Biblicum in Rome, and during the academic year 1991-1992 he prepared a Mémoire of the Ecole [essay] on Understanding what we are reading...The Use of the Scripture in Acts 8:26-40.

“His mémoire was accepted on 8 May 1992, after reports of 3 professors: Prof. Justin Taylor, Prof. M-E Boismard and  Prof. Jerry Murphy O'Connor,” Pérennès continued. 

“On 22 May 1992, he passed with success the lectio coram and was allowed to enter formally in doctorate, but on 7 June 1994 the record of the academic council mentions that Fr. Rosica had stopped his doctorate. No reason is written.” 

LifeSiteNews subsequently confirmed with EBAF that Rosica received no diploma or degree for passing the lectio coram, an investigation into a passage of Scripture.

“There is no formal diploma after a lectio coram. It is just an agreement to be allowed to start a Ph D,” Pérennès explained.

Not only does a claim that Rosica has a "degree" from the Jerusalem college appear on Salt + Light's website, the priest himself makes the claim on film.  

"You know, I did my degrees in Scripture in Toronto, and in Rome, and in Jerusalem," he said in a 2017 Salt and Light video

His claim has also been reproduced by the publisher of his most recent books, Novalis. "Fr. Thomas Rosica, CSB, holds advanced degrees in Theology and Sacred Scripture from Regis College in the University of Toronto, the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome and the Ecole Biblique in Jerusalem," the publisher states

An entry in the Canadian Biblical Association’s Membership Roll, published in 2004, comes closer to the mark than the biographies that grace the Salt + Light website and the backs of Rosica’s books. 

According to the Canadian Biblical Association, Rosica studied at Regis College at the University of Toronto from 1982 until 1985, receiving a Master of Divinity degree and a Bachelor of Theology (S.T.B.). He subsequently studied Scripture at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome from 1987 until 1990, receiving a License in Sacred Scripture (S.S.L.). He then studied from 1990 to 1992 at the École Biblique (EBAF) as an “élève titulaire” or junior student. 

LifeSiteNews has contacted the Pontifical Biblical Institute, or “Biblicum”, in Rome to confirm that Rosica has the S.S.L., which would permit him to teach Scripture in a major seminary.  According to the Canadian Biblical Association entry, Rosica has taught at the University of Saint Michael’s College in Toronto and St. Peter’s Seminary in London. Rosica is also the President Emeritus of Assumption University in Windsor, Ontario. 

We have not yet received a response. 

Nevertheless, it is currently believed that a Thomas M. Rosica submitted a thesis in 1990 to the Biblicum for the S.S.L.  It is titled  “Emmaus: The Road to Recognition. The Literary Structure of Luke 24:13-35. An Exegetical Study".  

Luke 24:13-35 is the story of the disciples who travel to Emmaus and recognize the Resurrected Christ in the fellow traveler who breaks break with them. Two philosophy professors, Professor Joshua Hochschild and Professor Michael Dougherty each discovered extensive plagiarism in Rosica’s 1994 essay “The Road to Emmaus and the Road to Gaza: Luke 24:13-35 and Acts 8:26-40," in the peer-reviewed  journal Worship. The article has since been formally retracted by Worship’s publishers, Liturgical Press.

On February 24, Hochschild tweeted, “It is reasonable to guess that Rosica's Worship article is related to his 1990 thesis for the Licentiate in Sacred Scripture for the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.”  

Rosica has been at the center of a plagiarism scandal that erupted after LifeSiteNews discovered that the Vatican spokesman had misappropriated the writings of at least five men for a speech he gave at the Von Hügel Institute at St. Edmund’s College, Cambridge University. Subsequent research revealed that Rosica had been passing off the words of others as his own for many years.  After Rosica admitted his plagiarism to Joseph Brean of the National Post, the story went viral and news of the priest's word-lifting was published in French, German, Italian, Spanish and Polish. 

Jonathan Bailey, founder of the website Plagiarism Today, wrote in a Feb. 28 article that it remains a "mystery" why Rosica's plagiarism was discovered only recently. 

"The peculiarity of Rosica’s plagiarism is that none of it is well-hidden at all. He routinely plagiarized lengthy passages from other, well-known Catholic authors and well-recognized secular sources and he did it in very public places including columns in major newspapers," he wrote. 

"All of this begs a difficult question: How did Rosica last so long? Did no one notice the plagiarism? Did some see it and not think it was a big deal? Did someone see it and doubt their findings? Was there an attempt to keep this a secret?" he continued. 

Bailey wrote that, in the end, "there doesn’t appear to be much that he wrote that wasn’t plagiarized in some way. It seems that plagiarism was (and may still be) very central to his writing process."

"Still, as the story winds to a close, it appears that Rosica’s career as a communicator is, most likely, over," he added.

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