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Thursday, January 19, 2012


Charles E Flynn

Issues surrounding the proper use of the term "Catholic" can be important in ways that some people might find scarcely imaginable. Years ago, in miserable circumstances I need not describe now, I concluded that if the Herman Miller furniture company in Zeeland, Michigan and the estate of Charles and Ray Eames had the right to define what was a real Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman (670/671) and what was an unauthorized reproduction, then the Pope, also known as the Vicar of Christ, had the right to decide what was authentic Catholic doctrine, and what was not.

Around the same time, I saw an evidently lower-caste Hindu man read an article in the New York Times in which Pope John Paul II made some comments about the nature of the human being. The Hindu man ran from the library screaming, "The Pope says I'm not a piece of s---." Evidently, the Pope’s authority mattered. From that moment on, I was free of the 1960s interpretation of the entire concept of authority.


Jurisdiction seems the real issue here. If, for example, a Bishop from another diocese was to give the consent required under Canon Law, someone who is sympathetic to RCTV and Voris, would that be sufficient for the Archdiocese of Detroit?

To this point, as I understand it, they have not claimed jurisdiction, only stated that RCTV does not have the consent. Who is the "competent ecclesiastical authority" in this case? I think that this may well set legal precedent, because it is dealing with the new media. The fact that internet programming can be done from anywhere and broadcast everywhere changes the dynamic considerably and Canon Law needs to reflect that, at least in legal precedent.

Perhaps the Holy See is the only competent authority, considering that the reach of the internet is instantaneously worldwide. In fact, in the future, a particular office or branch of an existing office may need to be set up to deal specifically with this issue.

What is the underlying principle in determining jurisdiction? Is it point of origin or production? That makes a certain amount of sense, or does it have more to do with the reach of the programming, because the protection of the faithful is the central concern?

I am curious to see how this goes.

On the same theme, I seem to remember that EWTN was so named to avoid this kind of skirmish, if I recall Raymond Arroyo's book on Mother Angelica correctly.

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