After Scandal, Fr. Rosica Resigns From Salt + Light TV

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  June 19, 2019   

Canadian priest leaves post at Catholic TV station after plagiarism scandal, three-month sabbatical

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TORONTO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Canadian priest resigned this week from a Catholic television network, months after his rampant plagiarism was exposed.

Father Thomas Rosica, formerly the CEO of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, announced his resignation on Monday.

"After 16 years as the founding Chief Executive Officer, I have submitted my resignation to the Board of Directors of the Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation, effective today," Fr. Rosica wrote in the June 17 statement.

He said elsewhere in the statement, "I ask forgiveness for errors in not properly acknowledging individuals and attributing sources in my writings."

Father Rosica, formerly a Vatican spokesman, is a priest in the Congregation of St. Basil. He founded Salt and Light TV in 2003.

He has been on sabbatical since March this year, after revelations that he committed plagiarism repeatedly over the years in his writings and speeches.


On Feb. 15, a LifeSiteNews article alleged that Fr. Rosica had committed plagiarism in a recent lecture, stealing whole sentences from other people's writings without any attribution.

After that report was published, further digging indicated that Rosica had a long-time habit of stealing other people's words without credit.

Rosica offered an apology to Toronto-based The Catholic Register on Feb. 19, saying, "I realize that I was not prudent nor vigilant with several of the texts that have surfaced and I will be very vigilant with future texts and compositions."

The priest emphasized in a Feb. 22 phone interview with the National Post, "What I've done is wrong, and I am sorry about that. I don't know how else to say it."

Rosica mentioned to National Post that he often had the assistance of interns in finding sources to quote. He also said he sometimes lost track of attributions and would neglect to get things sorted out due to tight deadlines.

"I realize I relied too much on compiled notes," he said.

Even after this apology, people continued unearthing more and more instances of plagiarism in Fr. Rosica's works. Plagiarism was even found in academic writings by Rosica from more than 20 years ago — long before he had interns.

Later in February, America magazine announced it had removed a September 2015 Rosica article due to plagiarism. Similar announcements came from other publications, such as the Catholic Herald.

As the plagiarism scandal deepened, Fr. Rosica resigned from the collegium at the University of St. Michael's College (USMC) in Toronto and from the boards of two other colleges.

Among those sharing examples of Fr. Rosica's plagiarism were the blog Retraction Watch and professors Michael Dougherty and Joshua Hochschild.

Doughtery petitioned the editors of liturgical studies journal Worship to retract a 1994 article by Rosica, which was replete with stolen, unattributed quotes. Retraction Watch announced that the editors of Worship decided to retract Rosica's 25-year-old piece.

According to Hochschild, the editors of academic journal Humanitas Review decided to retract a 2016 article by Fr. Rosica after discovering that the article was full of plagiarism.

Hochschild posted on Twitter this March 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."

In a 2013 piece for CNN, Rosica apparently plagiarized George Weigel's 2004 book Letters to a Young Catholic.

Father Rosica stirred up controversy in July 2018 with a blog post (no longer available online) celebrating Pope Francis as a radical reformer. Rosica even said that the Pope "breaks Catholic traditions whenever he wants because he is 'free from disordered attachments.' 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 criticism from faithful Catholics, who called it scandalous that a priest would write in such a celebratory tone about a pope "break[ing] Catholic traditions whenever he wants."

In April 2019, it was reported that large portions of the blog post were actually plagiarized from a Protestant blogger's criticism of Francis.

In March, it was reported that Fr. Rosica was misrepresenting his academic credentials.

As head of Salt and Light, Fr. Rosica repeatedly gave a platform to notorious 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 openly dissented against Catholic teachings on numerous subjects, including contraception and homosexuality. In a book he wrote shortly before his death, Baum admitted to having a homosexual affair with a fellow ex-priest.

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