Canada celebrates 10th anniversary of television network for the new evangelisation
A television network launched after the 2002 World Youth Day in ultra secularist Canada celebrates its 10th anniversary
When it was born ten years ago - following the huge success of John Paul II’s last World Youth Day in Toronto in 2002- few were optimistic about its success: launching a Catholic television network in Canada, one of the planet’s most secularised countries, seemed like a gamble even in light of the wave of enthusiasm left behind by the late Polish pope.
Indeed, Salt + Light’s current managing director and promoter, Basilian father, Thomas Rosica was very hesitant before he finally gave in to the insistent “advances” made by 85 year old Gaetano Gagliano, head of a wealthy Italo-Canadian family which had decided to invest in the launch of a Catholic television company in Canada.
After a number of fruitless attempts, it was John Paul II himself who finally convinced Rosica to take on the task: “One day, - he told Canadian magazine The Walrus - I had lunch with the Holy Father and told him that these people in Canada wanted me to start a television network. ‘You will take it,’ he responded. ‘Canada is a mission country!’ ”
Rosica, a 53 year old American from New York State, had had the chance to get to know Pope John Paul II well during the World Youth Day in Toronto – which he was managing director of – an experience which drove him away from the world of biblical studies in Canada, Rome and Jerusalem; a world he never returned to.
This week Salt + Light celebrates its 10th “birthday” with a gala evening and a concert by The Priests, the trio of Irish priest-singers whose classical music has earn them record breaking sales. Messages of congratulations came not just from leaders of the Canadian Catholic Church, but also from the U.S. and Rome, in the form of a letter from Mgr. Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Rosica has been a member of this Council since 2009.
Since its very first broadcasts in 2003 - just a handful of studios in three Canadian cities, producing mainly live coverage of papal events - Salt + Light grew to become a network with non-stop live broadcasting 27/7 in English, French and Chinese, with 2 and a half million viewers in Canada and a staff made up predominantly of young people. The network is expanding across the U.S. and its programmes and award-winning documentaries are sold across the world. It also recently launched a radio station and a smartphone app.
The “secret” according to Fr. Rosica, was the effort to avoid the mistakes made by other Catholic television networks that is, addressing a mainly elderly public, getting involved in “cultural wars” that create deep divisions within the Catholic world, between conservatives and progressivists. This happens in North America more than it does in Europe.
“On our network, we have decided as far as possible to avoid bias, particularly at a time of crisis in the Church and a world such as ours. The temptation is to become so fundamentalist and rigid with regard to doctrine and life, that one ends up closing themselves in a castle and no one listens to them a part from those inside it. On the other hand, there is also the temptation to conform to worldly values to such an extent that Church doctrine and the truth in the Gospel become diluted, distorted and flavourless.”
Salt + Light’s aim, in line with the “new evangelisation” promoted by Benedict XVI, is to teach Jesus’ message and that of the Church, sharing stories of hope that inspire people to approach Christ and the faith,” the network’s presentation message reads.
Let there be (Salt +) Light
“But the unique thing is, we have the full support of the Church.”
Do some Catholics complain of their proverbial dirty linen being aired in public?
“Oh, yeah, all the time,” Rosica said. “There’s a certain form of Taliban Catholicism out there right now that would like to dictate everything and, really, it doesn’t speak to the future.
“We uphold the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and respectfully differ with those who do not share our views.”
LifeSiteNews.com (LSN) readers will remember Fr. Rosica as the priest who, back in 2009, criticizedLSN during an appearance on a Catholic radio program as “not credible,” “not ethical,” “not honest,” “bombastic,” “derisive,” and who said that, insofar as it is “divisive,” LSN is doing “the work of Satan.”
Since then the head of Canada’s Salt & Light Catholic television network, who is now also a consultor to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, has led an ongoing campaign against what he sees as an overly angry, harsh, and condemnatory pro-life movement and “Taliban Catholicism,” as he puts it. He has, however, recently remained silent, at least in the media, on the subject of LSN specifically – until now.
It was Fr. Raymond Gravel’s lawsuit against LifeSiteNews that provoked Fr. Rosica to once again condemn this news service with his comments in an article about the lawsuit written by Montreal correspondent Graeme Hamilton in last Saturday’s National Post.
“At best,” he is quoted as saying, “the activity of LifeSite is a form of unthinking activism akin to a shooting gallery. Now and then they hit a target. More often, however, they leave a vast trail of collateral damage, character assassination and destruction of reputations of good people…”
“Taliban Catholicism,” then, is an exaggerated allergy to anything that smacks of secularism, liberalization, or corruption by modernity – an angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate and condemn.
Of course, Catholicism hardly enjoys a monopoly on the “Taliban” instinct, which is more akin to a potential distortion within any religious system. In some ways it may be especially virulent within ultra-traditional and nationalist strains of Orthodoxy, as a recent “Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical” from Archbishop Bartholomew of Constantinople makes clear.
[KWTC: John Allen's latest creation, "Evangelical Catholics" has me confused]
First, whether anyone likes it or not, pressure related to Catholic identity is here to stay. This is not only because a fragmented, post-modern world always makes identity contentious, but because one key trend in today’s church is precisely the rise of “evangelical Catholicism.” It’s premised on recovering a strong sense of Catholic identity (including traditional markers of Catholic thought, speech and practice, such as Eucharistic adoration and Marian devotion) and using that identity as a lever to transform culture – beginning with the culture of the church. This evangelical wave comes from the top down, in the sense that policy-makers are understandably concerned to defend Catholic identity vis-à-vis secularism. Yet it also comes from the bottom up, in the form of strong evangelical energy among younger priests, religious, theology students and lay activists.
National Catholic Reporter defies Vatican, calls for women's ordination
“Barring women from ordination to the priesthood is an injustice that cannot be allowed to stand,” the Reporter proclaimed in an editorial published December 3.
The editorial decried the Vatican’s decision to dismiss Roy Bourgeois from the Maryknoll society because of his public support for women’s ordination, and concluded by saying that the paper “joins its voice” with that of Bourgeois in that effort.
Position of the Church
In 1968, NCR's ordinary, Bishop Charles Herman Helmsing "issue[d] a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings," condemning its "poisonous character" and "disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith."  Helmsing warned that NCR's writers were likely guilty of heresy, had likely incurred latae sententiae excommunications, and because the publication "does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching," he "ask[ed] the editors in all honesty to drop the term 'Catholic' from their masthead," because "[b]y retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings."
NCR refused to comply with its ordinary, and 66 Catholic journalists signed a statement disagreeing with the condemnation based on its "underlying definition of the legitimate boundaries of religious journalism in service to the church." The Catholic Press Association reported that the dispute arose from a difference of opinion regarding the function of the press."