Father Longenecker Retracts[?]
Written by Michael Matt | Editor
Readers may recall Fr. Dwight Longenecker’s unprovoked attack on traditional Catholics last month in an article entitled “Ten Traits of Catholic Fundamentalism” (Patheos). In the wake of that article, The Remnant issued a demand for public retraction from Fr. Longenecker.
On March 12, one of Father Longenecker’s parishioners, Steve Stewart, sent The Remnant a brief and respectful word of defense, not of his pastor’s attack on traditional Catholics, but rather of Longenecker as confessor.
Since my reply to Mr. Stewart sets the context for this exchange, I repost it here:
“Steve: Father needs to retract. And if he’s half the priest you say he is, he will know that he must retract. Here’s why: There is absolutely no reason for anyone anywhere to jump to the outrageous conclusion that given enough rope, traditional Catholics (even the nutty ones) will resort to physical violence. This is calumny, pure and simple. It’s wrong on so many levels—but coming from a Catholic priest it is dangerous and scandalous. Through guilt by association, it also naturally runs the calculated risk of dragging the whole traditionalist movement into the fever swamps of domestic terrorism where the Southern Poverty Law Center and other far-Left groups have been maliciously trying to confine traditional Catholics for years. Here’s where Father’s article enters into the realm of the indefensible, regardless of how good he is in the confessional. There is no excuse for this—none at all—and he’s too intelligent to have failed to anticipate the fallout. This was either malicious or incredibly stupid. I prefer to presume it was a stupid mistake on his part. So, all Father needs to do now is publicly retract and I will pull this article down. MJM”
With no word of that retraction having surfaced in the days that followed, The Remnant’s Chris Ferrara, a member of the South Carolina bar, sent a formal demand for the same, citing South Carolina law on libel.
We are pleased to announce that Father Longenecker complied with The Remnant’s demand for retraction three days later. On March 31, 2016, he posted the following on his blogsite at Patheos:
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.
As far as The Remnant is concerned this matter is now closed.
As The Remnant remains committed to the defense of traditional Catholics unjustly accused, we pledge to use our resources to expose slander and false accusations whenever and wherever they surface. And if public retractions and/or corrections cannot be obtained through the usual channels, we will make recourse to the legal option to ensure that Traditional Catholics are not maligned, calumniated or slandered as would-be hate criminals by any critic in any quarter.
Turning the other cheek does mean that faithful Catholics must allow their very lives (and those of their families) to be in any sense threatened by the reckless antics of any and all Internet critics. As we see it, especially given the violent attacks on pro-tradition Christian groups, such as the office invasion of the Family Research Council by a gunman—this is a matter both of self-defense and natural justice, and thereby abundantly supported by Catholic moral theology.
The Remnant will not be intimidated and it will not back down when it comes to immoral and illegal slander leveled against us, either directly or by extension.
For the Record
Though we anticipate that Father Longenecker—a Catholic priest—will have the integrity to stand by his word (as posted on his own site and later confirmed in his telephone call to Christopher Ferrara on March 31) in the matter of his retraction, we would like the record to show exactly what Father posted on his site on March 31, 2016. See Fr. Longenecker’s [March 31st] retraction HERE [as archived on The Remnant website]
Whatever edits or changes that may occur to this retraction in the days that follow are on Father’s conscience and are of no concern to us.