Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Copyrighted Catholic

Michael Voris.  You've seen him on +Ponderings+ and elsewhere on the internet.  He's the energetic guy with a whole lot of zeal for the Church and a double blessing of hair on his head.  Never afraid to speak his mind, and always doing so out of his undying love for Christ and His Church, Mr. Voris sometimes ends up in the spotlight himself.  Having been on the receiving end of poor catechesis in his youth, Mr. Voris has apparently made it his life mission to expose cafeteria Catholicism for the evil that it is and to lead the stray sheep back to the fold.  He unapologetically has exposed many issues which he backs with evidence gained by lengthy research and shares the information and sources for others to use in discernment.

On December 15, 2011, the Archdiocese of Detroit released the following statement:

The Church encourages the Christian faithful to promote or sustain a variety of apostolic undertakings but, nevertheless, prohibits any such undertaking from claiming the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority (see canon 216 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law). For some time, the Archdiocese of Detroit has been in communication with Mr. Michael Voris and his media partner at Real Catholic TV regarding their prominent use of the word "Catholic" in identifying and promoting their public activities disseminated from the enterprise's production facility in Ferndale, Michigan. The Archdiocese has informed Mr. Voris and Real Catholic TV, RealCatholicTV.com, that it does not regard them as being authorized to use the word "Catholic" to identify or promote their public activities. Questions about this matter may be directed to the Archdiocese of Detroit, Department of Communications. Source
Following the release of the statement, there have been heated comments directed toward the Archdiocese and many questions raised.  Canon lawyers have weighed in on both sides and a lot of people have pointed out that some entities use Catholic in their name within the Archdiocese of Detroit, and they are clearly operating in ways contrary to the Catholic faith.  Is the word 'Catholic' copyrighted and just who does and does not have the right to use 'Catholic' in a name?  If some can use Catholic and others cannot, why does it appear that Michael Voris from RealCatholicTV is being called out and others not?  There have been no allegations of wrong-doing made against RealCatholicTV, yet they are being told that they cannot use the word 'Catholic' in their name.  On January 3, 2012 the Archdiocese of Detroit released a follow-up statement:

Subsequent to the release in mid-December, 2011, of a "Statement regarding Real Catholic TV and its name," inquiries have come to the Archdiocesan Department of Communications regarding the timing and need for this particular declaration. The Director of Communications presents this response:
"The Archdiocese of Detroit has been consistent in its statements to and about Real Catholic TV since the fall of 2008. (Regarding RealCatholicTV.com) Due to continued requests made to the Detroit archdiocese for clarification concerning the use of the title Catholic by Real Catholic TV, and to avoid any confusion among the faithful, it was determined a public statement should make clear what has been told to Real Catholic TV, namely, that it does not have the authorization required under Church law to identify or promote itself as Catholic."
Canon Law Commentary In the Light of the Law: blog entries from Dr. Edward Peters, a widely-known lay canon lawyer on the graduate faculty at Sacred Heart Major Seminary.

Here is the video response to the story from Michael Voris himself:

Lifesitenews.com has interviewed Fr. Mark Gurtner, Judicial Vicar of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana in regard to the matter.  They report on their site:

Speaking as a canon lawyer and not an official of the diocese, Gurtner also said he believes the jurisdiction of the case resides with the Indiana diocese. “It certainly seems to me that canonically Michael Voris would not be the one that this would be imposed on,” he said. “Even though he is the one that regularly appears on (the show) he, in a sense, is really just an employee of (RealCatholicTV.com).” 
“It seems like if the Archdiocese of Detroit is trying to go after (Voris), that’s the wrong person to address this with, that would have to be with the owner of the website or blog,” he added.
“I suppose if this Marc Brammer [owner of RealCatholicTV and Indiana resident] is paying for and running, constructing his blog from our diocese in his home I suppose you could make the argument that we have jurisdiction canonically.”
When asked by LifeSiteNews what concerns the Detroit Archdiocese had about Voris and RealCatholicTV.com, Detroit Archdiocesan Director of Communications McGrath would not specify any concern other than the use of the word ‘Catholic’. 
Asked if the archdiocese has asked any other group or individual in the archdiocese not to use the name Catholic, McGrath said he couldn’t remember any other cases during his 20 years with the diocese.  “I don’t know. I’ve been here 20 years I can’t say that we’ve never done that in the history of the Archdiocese,” he said. 
Pressed on the point, he said, “I wouldn’t want to say that definitively. But not any that I can recall recently, no.”

What a tangled web and I can't help feeling that I am caught up in it.  Afterall, this is +Catholic Ponderings+ and I cannot tell which, if any, canon law I may or may not be breaking.  I suppose I should just be thankful to not be under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese of Detroit.  In my opinion, Michael Voris has shined a light on something or someone somewhere and a certain Archbishop didn't like it.  He can tell Mr. Voris to put his lamp under the basket, but I will not.  I don't always agree with Mr. Voris but I love his tenacity.  I can think of a lot of "Catholic" people, universities, and leaders who bear the Catholic trademark, but a nagging inner voice tells me they have clearly ventured into the realm of small 'c' catholicism.

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