Salt and Light Network Backs Fr. Rosica Despite Admission of Plagiarism

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 4, 2019   

Board of directors declares support for disgraced priest's leadership

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TORONTO (ChurchMilitant.com) - Canada's Salt + Light TV is pledging support for CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica.

Writing on behalf of Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation's directors, on Friday, board chair Tony Gagliano issued a public statement backing Rosica. 

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Tony Gagliano

Though admitting plagiarism "is always very serious and wrong," Gagliano lauded Rosica's work "on many media platforms and in multiple languages to offer experiences of unity, prayer, celebration, reflection, education, dialogue, thought-provoking reporting and stories of faith and action," and insisted this work "must continue," declaring: "We unanimously pledge our support of the continued leadership of Fr. Rosica as Chief Executive Officer of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation." 

Earlier Friday, Church Militant contacted Salt + Light by phone and email for comment on the fallout over the plagiarism scandal — specifically, for answers to the following questions:

  1. In light of the scandal, do Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation board members still have confidence in his leadership?
  2. Will Fr. Rosica retain his position as Salt + Light CEO? If so, how is that decision being justified?
  3. What disciplinary measures, if any, are being taken against Fr. Rosica?

Church Militant's email outreach went unanswered. The apostolate was able to contact a Salt + Light representative by phone, but when Church Militant asked to speak with a spokesperson about the fallout, the representative responded: "You can speak directly with him (Fr. Rosica)."

After asking how Rosica could be reached, Church Militant was put on hold. Seconds later, the representative returned to say: "He's not available right now." When Church Militant asked when Rosica might be available for conversation, the representative replied: "That's all the information I've been given."

Though Salt + Light and the Basilians remain committed to Rosica's leadership, he is taking a growing number of hits elsewhere.

The Basilian Fathers, of which Rosica is a member, is also standing by him. In a statement posted on its website, the order declared:  

The members of the Congregation of St. Basil (the Basilian Fathers) are aware of the recent reports regarding plagiarism by our brother, Father Thomas Rosica, CSB. Plagiarism of any kind is wrong. When it is committed knowingly it rises to the level of a moral offense. As a community of Catholic educators we condemn it, without qualification. At the same time, embrace our brother despite this failing for which he has taken full responsibility. With him, we apologize to those who have been offended by the misuse of their literary gifts.

Critics are calling both statements a whitewash, observing that Rosica's plagiarism stretches back more than 30 years; they also note that in acknowledging wrongdoing, the disgraced priest tried to shift some of the blame onto interns. 

Though Salt + Light and the Basilians remain committed to Rosica's leadership, he is taking a growing number of hits elsewhere. 

On Feb. 25, the University of St. Michael's College in Toronto announced Rosica's resignation from the school's governing body, the Collegium.

In the wake of the scandal, Rosica has also stepped down from positions of leadership at Houston's University of St. Thomas and his alma mater, St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York.


Again on Feb. 25, citing the plagiarism scandal, the Jesuits of Canada announced they were disinviting Rosica from their April 24 Annual Provincial's Dinner where he was scheduled to receive their Magis Award.

That same day, America magazine announced it had expunged a September 2015 Rosica article: "America has become aware that this article included extensive unattributed material from other sources. Accordingly, we have removed the text."

On Feb. 26, Liturgical Press, publisher of the journal Worship, announced on Twitter that its editors were retracting a 1994 Rosica piece "because of plagiarism."

A similar "Notice of Retraction" was posted on Worship's website, declaring:

We have recently learned that large portions of the article, "The Road to Emmaus and the Road to Gaza: Luke 24:13–35 and Acts 8:26–40" (Worship, 68.2, March 1994, 117–131) by Basilian Father Thomas M. Rosica were plagiarized from a variety of sources. We are in the process of retracting the article and notifying the various publications and/or authors from whose work elements were used without appropriate documentation.

On Feb. 27, leading Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail announced it will no longer feature Rosica as a contributor.

"Globe and Mail editors say they will not use his writings in the future," public editor Sylvia Stead revealed. 

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