An Interview with David Domet, the Vox Cantoris blogger who stood up to Fr. Rosica
. The Catholic world is gladdened to hear today that Fr. Rosica has decided not to take legal action against you, for your public criticism of his positions at your now famous blog, Vox Cantoris. As one of those who would like to know more about this sad episode, I am honored that you have consented to be interviewed by the From Rome blog.
Let us begin, therefore, with the facts of the case. When and how did you receive the threat of legal action, what Fr. Rosica now calls, the cease and desist letter?
Mr. Domet: Well, it clearly did not seem to me as a “cease and desist letter” which could have been written by him without the aid of one of Toronto’s most expensive law firms (though he does state the work was “pro bono; the fees to my Solicitor are certainly not, I’ve already paid her a retainer, as is just). The letter was quite clear on its demands and what was more astounding was the continued threat of a lawsuit even had I complied with their demands which I was not prepared to do. I was at lunch on Tuesday, February 17, the day before Ash Wednesday with a colleague and it came across my smartphone. Suffice to say, after reading it, lunch was over. The letter is available on line at my blog, people can read it and draw their own conclusions.
Q. What was your and your wife’s reaction at receiving such a communication from a man of God? and this at the beginning of Lent?
Mr. Domet: I was astounded and shocked, and my wife was extremely hurt and upset; and frankly, afraid as I was of what this meant for us and our home and my son; this has been very hard on her, especially coming from a priest. We know so many and work with so many priests organizing and assisting, consulting and training for the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite and chanting the Mass. She herself has a beautiful voice and assists me every week in the traditional rite. I also sing weekly in the Ordinary Form so my work with priests is well known and my love and respect for these good priests with whom I work is without doubt. The affects upon us have been physical, too, with more than a few chiropractic adjustments for neck and shoulder pain and stress. As for Lent, well; since we married nearly two years ago, life’s been pretty soft. Our Lent began with a very heavy cross much more so than the usual we might try to put upon ourselves. We have both been sustained by prayers from so many people around the world and we have many times offered up this trial to God our Father united with the Cross of Christ. We are happy that we can now regroup over the next few days and rest and then get on with a more structured Lenten focus.
Q. Who is Jesus Christ and what does the Catholic Faith mean to you? And how did this magnify your dismay at what had happened?
Mr. Domet: He is my LORD and saviour and King of all; if I try to do anything without him I fail – I’ve proven that more than once and “I can do all things in Him who strengthens me” was what I remembered in this matter. Nothing is more important than the Catholic Faith as given to us by Our Blessed Lord; He and It are the rock on which life makes sense and truth is anchored.
As for my dismay, what else can we expect? Look around at the world and at the Church. The Church for many reasons is weak so faith is weak; when faith is weak, Catholics are weak and the world is inflamed with evil and terror. I am dismayed that there are so few Catholics, whether priest, prelate or laity, prepared to stand up for Our Lord Jesus Christ and His Church. In Canada, we have over 40% baptized as Catholics, in the United States of America maybe 30% ; if every one of us went to the Sacraments and Mass on Sunday and lived our faith we would change our nations overnight! If that is the situation here, how much more for Europe where the percentages are even higher? My dismay is your dismay—the failings of Catholics to be Catholic and stand up for Our Lord.
Mr. Domet: I sought advice from a very small group of close advisors. I did not contact the law firm directly – I needed to secure the right Solicitor and found her, a Catholic with some other background knowledge which I cannot reveal but which aided our strategy. Our first contact back to the law firm apparently engaged “pro bono” by Father Rosica was by mail with the response to their first letter and contact was only made by my Solicitor.
Mr. Domet: As I indicated this on my own blog, Vox Cantoris; we responded to the deadline in the first letter to prevent an injunction on their part, though not meeting their demands, of course. We stated our position and suggested other options for discussion within the Church which were rejected.
Other items were then put on the table, making demands on me that were impossible to accept. It became apparent to me that we needed to communicate with clarity what we were not prepared to do, and what were prepared to do, which was to defend ourselves and engage a crowd-funding campaign to sustain it.
Q. Out of respect for your contact in the Secretariat of State, I won’t ask you to divulge his name. And, assuming the advice he gave you was not his own, but that which he was counseled to give, can you tell us what advice did he give you? And did you ask him to explain why he gave such unexpected advice?
Mr. Domet: As I stated on my blog, I first “took it to the Church” as we are commanded to do in Holy Scripture. Frankly, it was easier to go to my contact in Rome than my own Chancery in Toronto. I can only assume that the information coming back to me was his personal advice and nobody else’s and I have no reason to believe otherwise. However, I was asked to state my “intention” and I did not respond to it and was then asked the next morning again and that maybe it would be better to “seek humility” and “apologise.” I did not and was advised not to respond to either. The fact is, intervention could have happened on the first or second day.
Q. Personally, I have seen time and time again, members of the clergy use spiritual counsels to convince the laity to assume a posture of excessive respect toward the clergy which seems to be would only enable further abusive behavior by members of the clergy, the same or otherwise. Was this any part of your own reaction to the advice given you through your contact in the Secretariate of State? And how does that reflect on the state of affairs in the Vatican, under Pope Francis, in your opinion?
Mr. Domet: I don’t think that I am qualified to give an opinion on the Secretariat of State and its operation under Pope Francis. However, let me state this; I’ve heard a lot of clergy do exactly as you stated and I myself have seen it directly, I have experienced it directly. It is the height of clericalism and it is detestable.
It is particularly detestable to attempt to do it to informed laity, which is in direct contravention of our rights and duties under Canon 212 §3 and the precepts of Vatican II, which they preach when it suits them.
Look, our parents and grandparents were victims of a clericalism that destroyed the liturgy and the faith for millions of souls. The same clericalism abused and sodomised and destroyed lives. This same clericalist attitude demanded that we “pay, pray and obey” while they “preyed!”
Some of them say that we who wish to live by the Law and desire proper liturgy are Pharisaical and pelagian and desire clericalism. Nonsense! It is they that are the Pharisees, they are the clericalists –I’ve seen it; I’ve lived it and I’ve had direct experience with all of it and in some ways that I would rather not discuss at this time.
Mr. Domet: Pray. Ask for spiritual warriors to pray especially Carmelite Nuns (thank you to them!!!). Assemble a small team of advisors and a practicing Catholic lawyer including a Canon Lawyer; but something tells me this won’t be happening again anytime soon.
Q. And how do you think your case gives good example of what should be done in the future, regarding attempts by an ever increasing number of clergy and religious to urge and push the Church to abandon Christ’s teaching about faith and penance, marriage, chastity, and the traditional Eucharistic Discipline?
Mr. Domet: The example is quite clear; the Catholic blogosphere lit up with what happened; we need to see the power in that and take up the cause for the faith the family and the Holy Eucharist which seems to me to be at the heart of the matter.
How can those of us now unite to form an army of devoted and believing Catholics that blog to prevent an attempt to overturn doctrine at the Synod?
What vehicle can we use to coordinate our work, not control it, but to coordinate and disseminate and educate and catechise beyond just our few hundred readers?
Well, that’s what it was, I dare say now it is in the thousands! This situation since Ash Wednesday also shows the Church the power of blogs and how we will not be silent anymore in the face of heterodoxy. I can still remember as a child how my late mother particularly lamented what was done in the 1960’s. They had no way to stop it, no tools to fight back, we do and there is no excuse anymore not to use it to the advantage of the Church with “clarity and charity” as my own Archbishop will often state.
Q. Do you believe the proposals of Cardinal Kasper are, as Cardinals Muller and Sarah describe them, heretical, inasmuch as they propose to divorce Catholic Faith from Traditional discipline regarding the Sacraments?
Mr. Domet: Yes, 100% without reservation. Let me say this too. I married my lovely Frankie nearly two years ago; we courted for nearly two before that. I was married previously in the Church but was granted a “Decree of Nullity” many years ago. Let these prelates stop with the distortion of the facts. The annulment process, at least I can speak of here in Toronto, is rigorous and thorough as it must be, but it was not “painful.” It took time because I was lazy with my documents. My recollection is the cost was a suggested donation of $900 Canadian for which I received a tax receipt — so we can get off that carousel that it is not possible to obtain one.
One cannot divorce the Catholic Faith from Traditional discipline regarding the Sacraments and still remain Catholic.
Q. What do you think Catholic Cardinals and Bishops should be doing now to avert a disaster in October at the Synod for the Family?
Mr. Domet: Our own Cardinal Archbishop Thomas Collins has addressed the matter publicly and upholds the doctrine. He has asked for input from the faithful and I have certainly provided my own. What the Catholic faithful need to see are more examples of prelates such as Cardinal Burke and Bishop Athanasius Schneider, Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Cordileone, the Polish bishops and many of those in Africa. Why are they not all speaking out? What are they afraid of? I’ve had enough of bishops in Belgium and the United States and here in Canada musing about blessing and accepting of alternative lifestyles. Yes, they have said this; I don’t need to name them here. I’ve heard enough of this “mercy” it is a false mercy – there is nothing mercy about someone being left in a place that will jeopardise their eternal salvation.
Q. If the Pope and those who prefer loyalty to him to loyalty to Christ Jesus, should push or declare any deviation from the Faith or traditional discipline of the Sacraments in the October Synod, will you stand with the Pope or with Jesus Christ?
Mr. Domet: I stand with Jesus Christ my Lord and Saviour. Let us not, as Catholics, give an exaggerated status to any pope along the lines of what our protestant friends think – an infallibility without respect for the Gospel, which he does not possess. The First Vatican Council defined it very clearly.
Q. How high do you think the stakes are in this battle?
This kind of clerical intimidation is more prevalent than your readers imagine and it is closer to home than any of them in this diocese know. Mr. Domet nails it when he bemoans about "the precepts of Vatican II, which they preach when it suits them."
When it suits them indeed. Let the laity rise up when they see error and wrongdoing and you will see just how much the laity is truly respected by the clerical establishment and just how "loving", "gentle" and "merciful" they will be. And it starts at the top.
Disclaimer: I have no knowledge of the incident being commented on here. based on this item alone...
It's not "clerical" intimidation -it is simply intimidation. It seems the "clerical" is added to make it sound extra-special awful in an ecclesial context.
If a doctor threatens a lawsuit, is it "medical" intimidation? If if a college professor threatens a lawsuit, is it "academic" intimidation?
A "man of God" has every right to threaten or bring a lawsuit against someone who has committed libel, doesn't he? And whether it is at the beginning of Lent or the beginning of Advent or the beginning of the Octave of Easter shouldn't matter at all.
Finally, it seems that there is much, much more to this dispute than a threatened lawsuit or anyone intimidating anyone else.
When the person who initiates the lawsuit has all of the power or is in an authoritative position, especially a position in which he should be serving the party he is prosecuting, then it is intimidation. Some would go further and call it abuse.
Well, Fr. Kavanaugh, the only question that remains in my mind is why a very important Vatican priest would care even one jot about something posted about him on a relatively unknown blog. That the first action Fr. Rosica takes is to threaten a lawsuit is very telling. Wouldn't you think he would contact the blogger to request the most egregious posts (in Fr. Rosica's mind, or course) be removed? Is Fr. Rosica claiming libel, which is when a person KNOWINGLY writes false statements WITH an intent to do malicious harm?
Perhaps you are just being the Devil's Advocate here in defending Fr. Rosica, but to me it does seem he is a bit heavy handed given the offense. And because of the heavy handedness, it does seem to be a kind of intimidation, clerical or of the ordinary garden variety, I don't think it matters. Certainly doesn't seem a study in charity, that's for sure.
From the context--that,as Bee points out, Fr. Rosica's first step was to engage a powerful law firm to write a threatening letter of warning--it seems clear that his intent was to intimidate, not merely to seek legal redress. If so, surely this constitutes abuse of his clerical power.
Bee - For the same reason(s) that anyone in a public position would be concerned if his/her integrity was attacked.
I don't know that Vox Cantoris is a "relatively unknown blog." On the blog homepage ther visit counter reads almost half a million page views since January 2013.
Do we know that the "first action" taken was to threaten a lawsuit?
If the claims made against Fr. Rosica are valid, or if, as it seems, the suit has been dropped, the blogger has no worries. If the claims are libelous, the lack of charity is not found in Fr. Rosica.
Fr. Kavanaugh said: If the claims are libelous, the lack of charity is not found in Fr. Rosica.
Forgive me Father for presuming to tell you about your area of professional expertise, but it's my understanding that we laity are to look to the clergy for good example and how one lives and deals with things in real life according to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I thought it is not only our actions that determine if we are living as good Christians, but also our reactions to evil done to us and our reputations. Somehow, an powerfully worded legal letter threatening a lawsuit seems out of character with the actions I would expect from a meek and peaceful man of God, but maybe it's just me who sees it that way.
Even in my ignorance of all things theological, I am certain I would be in the wrong if I were to respond to insults and derision and even public false statements about me with anger and malice and threats of lawsuits. (Not that I know if Fr. Rosica had anger and malice, but one would suppose some serious concern on his part to generate such a strong letter of intent.) If I were to behave that way, I would question my charity toward my enemy, in light of Jesus' command to love him. But perhaps I am without insight into God's demands of those in leadership, and His standards for those in the clergy. Perhaps the command to return good for evil is not applicable to clergymen. I'm sure you will enlighten me to the truth with a strongly worded correction. I will, of course, be expected to meekly submit.
Bee - Filing a lawsuit when injury has occurred - or is thought to have occurred - is a perfectly legitimate course of action.
Filing a lawsuit is a "peaceable" action, certainly more peaceable than challenging the offender to a duel or beating him/her up in a back alley.
Making oneself a doormat for the evil actions of others is not an act of charity or humility. The teaching that we have a right to defend ourselves includes lawsuits against libel or slander.
Former PI, you miss the point. We're speaking about a priest who first should have gone to the person from whom he was taking offense and speak to him. I would have suggested in person or over the phone. Then if no positive outcome came from that, the priest should have involved others in the Church, perhaps this man's bishop.
Then after consulting himself with others, including the Vatican, he could have enlisted an attorney for a lawsuit concering libel.
The problem, which you seem to miss altogether, is the pastoral dimension of this situation as it is a priest who did not follow what should have been natural for him as a pastor and in addition to this, his high ranking in the Vatican Press office made it look like a crack down on obscure bloggers and using undue force and intimidation to accomplish this purpose and not just by this lone priest but by the Vatican itself.
Fr. McDonald: You might have suggested many things to Fr. Rosica, however, since he considered himself the aggrieved party, the decision on how he should have proceeded was his and his attorney's.
To say "he should" without knowing the facts in the case (we only know what we've read, and we know how many blogs, such as your own, and blog commenters revel in hyperbole and "bombshells") is not a wise course of action.
Case in point: Fr. Rosica does not hold "high rank" in the Vatican Press office. Since 2013 he has been English language assistant to the Holy See Press Office.
You and other like to make mountains out of mole hills when it serves your purpose.
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