Longenecker’s Insincerity

A few weeks ago I posted a critique of Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s article on “Catholic fundamamentalism” which, in truth, was little more than a thinly disguised attack on traditional Catholics. You can read that post here. Since that time, Christopher Ferrara — longtime contributor to The Remnant and licensed attorney — dispatched a letter to Longenecker seeking a retraction of any statement from his piece on “Catholic fundamentalism” which implied that the editorial and writing staff of The Remnant — particularly its lead editor Michael Matt — are prone towards violence. Longenecker complied . . . sort of. Here, archived at The Remnant, is Longenecker’s original retraction, which was posted on March 31, 2016:

I have received a letter from Christopher A. Ferrara–an attorney for The Remnant which says:

“Accordingly, I hereby demand that within five days of the date of this letter you publish on your website, with as much prominence as the original article, your full and unequivocal retraction of the statements ‘given enough rope they will move from verbal violence to physical violence’ and ‘given enough rope they will move from verbal violence to personal violence’ as they apply to the Remnant its Editor and his associates.”

In compliance with Mr Ferrara’s request I retract fully, unequivocally and completely any statement or suggestion that Mr Matt, The Remnant staff, readers and associates might tend towards violence of any kind, nor would they ever threaten anybody.

Here is the “updated” of Longenecker’s “retraction,” which went up on his blog site today:

So in compliance with Mr Ferrara’s request I admit I was wrong. After reading his  letter I realize my mistake and I retract fully, unequivocally and completely any statement or suggestion that the editors, staff and readers of The Remnant might be self important, angry fundamentalists who react in anger and are inclined towards violence of any kind.

I repeat: Mr Matt and Mr Ferrara are not angry and violent men.

They would never dream of threatening anyone in any way.

These words are dripping with sarcasm, particularly when juxtaposed with Longenecker’s statements about Ferrara’s letter being “intimidating” and that Ferrara himself may be “a very aggressive lawyer.” Although I am not a big fan of attorney’s using nasty-grams, particularly when their grounds for an actual lawsuit are rather thin (and in this instance I think they are; Longenecker’s post was foolish, not necessarily libelous), it is unsettling that a priest of the Catholic Church would insincerely retract an arguably inflammatory insinuation and then, in less than a day, go back on that retraction by resorting to cheap sarcasm. If Longenecker believes he did nothing wrong in writing his “Catholic fundamentalism” piece, then he should say so clearly. And if he does believe he may have committed libel or at least given needless cause for offense, then he should say so. Playing games with the truth of his actual thoughts and feelings on the matter are unbecoming to say the least.

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4 comments

  1. Insincerity in the face of extremely dickish, threatening legal bluster is no sin.

    I’m no big fan of Longenecker or of his whole type of “no friends to the right” style of commentary, but this makes Ferrara and all of us Trads look extremely bad and petty.

  2. Having corresponded with Fr. L. myself on FB, having delivered myself of all manner of poisonous rantings toward him, having repented of such and asked for his forgiveness (which he generously gave), and finally, having seen some of the really poisonous stuff emitted by some trads toward him (and by poisonous, I mean blasphemous, libelous, and lethal), I can see how Fr. L. might come to believe that some trads might have violent intent towards him and other RC priests. I mean to say that repeated wishes for his early demise, and suggestions on the part of some as to how they might assist in said demise, might sour even the sweetest of dispositions. Just sayin’.

    I can also see how, when confronted with a threat of legal action by a registered hound of hell er, attorney, Fr. L. might give in to the temptation to make a formal retraction which nonetheless drips with irony.

    I find Fr. L’s ‘retraction’ particularly appropriate, since, having a J.D. myself, and not at all being afraid to use it, I would agree with you that Ferrara’s threat of legal action is ‘rather thin’. I would go rather further, and express my opinion that Fr. L’s allegedly ‘libelous’ utterance was fully protected under the First Amendment as the expression of his own opinion. I would further express the opinion that Ferrara’s action was nothing but rank lawfare, or to use the common law term, barratry. Finally, I would express the opinion that Ferrara’s actions are among the reasons why I consider most attorneys (present company excepted, of course) to be a particularly virulent species of louse and parasite. (While I was tempted to add offensive personalities like ‘warthog faced buffoon’ and such like, I am attempting to resist such temptation)

    That said, though, I think it singularly inappropriate that Ferrara should use lawfare to achieve his alleged ‘defense’ of ‘The Remnant’, particularly since it appears that true hounds of hell are in the process of drawing out the long knives of lawfare to expropriate the assets of RC churches, under the guise of defending the rights of the ‘differently gendered’ to marry in RC churches.

    1. I used to be impressed by Chris Ferrara, but now I see even he is more of a reactionary, which is how I would now characterize many “traditionalists” in the Latin rite, if not most. An unhealthy obsession with the Latin rite as the only bastion of Tradition, when other Eastern rites have done far better than we have with their liturgy, whatever else problems they may have! I am sometimes tempted to go the Eastern way, but my heart is still Western.

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