Canada Bishops Yank Fr. Rosica’s Writings for Plagiarism

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 1, 2019   

Canadian bishops conference retracts works of Fr. Thomas Rosica in fallout from plagiarism scandal

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OTTAWA, Ontario (ChurchMilitant.com) - Canada's bishops are retracting the works of a prominent priest due to allegations of rampant plagiarism. 

On June 21, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) issued a retraction notice, announcing that Fr. Thomas Rosica' writings published by the bishops' conference were now being rescinded.

The notice stated:

Given that the works authored by Rev. Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., which were published by CCCB Publications, failed to provide all the appropriate citations, as well as bibliographic references, and did not acknowledge a number of original sources, CCCB Publications has retracted said works and apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused.

This retraction notice came after months of revelations of rampant plagiarism in Fr. Rosica's works, and just days after the Basilian priest resigned from his position as CEO of Salt + Light TV.

Rosica's resignation was announced on June 17, following a three-month sabbatical.

Back in March, LifeSiteNews reported on dozens of instances of apparent plagiarism in Words Made Flesh: Biblical Reflections for Year B, one of the works by Fr. Rosica that was published in collaboration with CCCB Publications. The book is the second volume in a three-part series of scriptural reflections corresponding to the three-year cycle of readings used at Sunday Mass.

Words Made Flesh was mainly compiled from reflections Fr. Rosica had written for Zenit. In those reflections and in the subsequent book, Fr. Rosica stole whole sentences from a variety of sources — anything from a footnote in the New American Bible to a homily by Pope Benedict XVI.


Father Rosica's plagiarism scandal began on Feb. 15, when LifeSiteNews reported that Fr. Rosica had plagiarized in a recent lecture, lifting whole sentences without attribution from the writings of others.

The scandal deepened in the days to come, as further digging by scholars and Catholic journalists indicated that the Canadian priest had a long history of plagiarism.

Later in February, Fr. Rosica offered apologies. In one case, he claimed that he often had the assistance of interns in finding sources to quote. He also said he sometimes lost track of attributions and neglected to sort them out in order to meet deadlines.

But apparent plagiarism was found in Rosica's works going back 30 years — long before he had interns and before he was operating on tight media deadlines.

Apparent plagiarism was found in Rosica's works going back 30 years.

Liturgical studies journal Worship decided earlier this year to retract a 1994 article by Rosica because it was ridden with phrases stolen wholesale from various sources without quotation marks or proper citation.

In March, professor Joshua Hochschild posted on Twitter about a 1989 essay by Rosica which contained signs of plagiarism. Hochschild called it "ironic" that the title of the 30-year-old essay was "A Time to be True to Our Words."

Soon after the plagiarism scandal broke, numerous publications such as the Catholic Herald and America magazine issued retractions of Fr. Rosica's writings. In like manner, Canada's The Globe and Mail added proper attributions to Rosica's old articles and announced they wouldn't be featuring his writings anymore.

Among the instances of plagiarism was a 2013 piece for CNN in which Fr. Rosica lifted phrases from George Weigel's 2004 book Letters to a Young Catholic.

In July 2018, months before the plagiarism scandal broke, Fr. Rosica put out a blog post (no longer available online) celebrating Pope Francis as a radical reformer, stating that the current pope "breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is 'free from disordered attachments.'"

It went on to state, "Our Church has indeed entered a new phase: with the advent of this first Jesuit pope, it is openly ruled by an individual rather than by the authority of Scripture alone or even its own dictates of tradition plus Scripture."

The blog post drew immediate backlash from faithful Catholics, who found it scandalous that a priest would write in a celebratory tone about a pope "break[ing] Catholic traditions whenever he wants" and overruling the "dictates of tradition plus Scripture."

In April 2019, it was revealed that large portions of the controversial piece were plagiarized from a Protestant ex-Catholic blogger. In the original context, the phrases about the Pope going against Scripture and tradition were actually criticisms of Francis and the Catholic Church.

As head of Salt + Light, Fr. Rosica repeatedly gave a platform to dissident theologians.

For instance, he once interviewed on camera the late ex-priest Gregory Baum, who had left the priesthood and married an ex-nun. Baum was a prominent figure in the Canadian rebellion against Catholic teaching on artificial contraception and dissented against numerous other teachings of the Church. 

In a book he wrote shortly before his death, Baum admitted that he had a homosexual affair with another ex-priest.

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