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.