Papal Adviser Rev. Thomas Rosica Almost Wrecked the Release of Pro-Life Movie Bella

Father Rosica has also resigned from a college board after admitting to serial plagiarism.

By John Zmirak Published on February 26, 2019

Pope Francis’s inner circle has never been that impressive. Perhaps the brightest bulb Team Francis had to offer was Fr. Thomas Rosica. You might remember him from a few months back. That was when he said that Pope Francis, unlike all other popes, stood above the Bible. And the solemn statements of every council and pope before him.

No, I’m not exaggerating. Here’s what Rosica wrote:

Pope Francis 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 Church has never taught anything like this. It’s a hideous pagan caricature of the papacy. I don’t think Martin Luther or the Rev. Ian Paisley ever charged that Catholics believe this. Though anti-Catholic tract-maker Jack Chick did, which led me to wonder if he’s running the Church from beyond the grave.

Rosica is also the leader of a Catholic media empire in Canada, Salt and Light Media. Imagine Mother Angelica’s EWTN, but run by Cardinal McCarrick.

Rosica, Vatican Censor

The Vatican made Rosica point man in its effort to quash independent Catholic media. A few months back, Pope Francis hinted to social media monopolies that they should deep-six as “fake news” stories by venues that criticized him. Father Rosica took this a bold step further. At the January meeting of U.S. Catholic bishops, he drew up a list of “approved” Catholic media. Virtually every one of them, a left or far-left periodical. Most had dissented from Church teaching under previous popes. The list appears below:

Now Father Rosica’s in trouble. It seems that he has this nasty and pervasive habit of plagiarism. That’s right, the Vatican’s arbiter of real news from “fake” has sticky fingers, and likes to steal others’ ideas. Not a good look, for a priest who served on the boards of numerous Catholic universities. (He has already started resigning from them.)

Perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked that Father Rosica flouted the most sacred academic standards. He also seemed willing to break the canons of journalism, and sabotage a crucial pro-life film.

Thirty Years of Stealing Ideas

Rosica’s acts of plagiarism apparently go back 30 years. Who knows, we might find out that the only original idea he ever had was the one about Pope Francis as a quasi-divine Delphic Oracle. Or maybe not even that one:

What I’d like to add to the farcical last act (one hopes) of Rosica’s career as a high-powered Catholic is this: I know of at least one instance where Rosica endangered an important pro-life work.

You might remember the wonderful movie Bella. It was the first, and is still the most significant, widely successful pro-life movie. Stream contributor Jason Jones was its executive producer. He has heard from more than a thousand women who saw the film during an unplanned pregnancy, who said that it helped them to choose life. It paved the way for dozens more pro-life films, such as the recent Gosnell and the current Unplanned. But the film almost vanished into obscurity. And it would have, if Fr. Rosica had had his way.

Sabotaging a Pro-Life Movie

Here’s the story Jason told me about that movie and Fr. Rosica’s involvement:

The makers of Bella are faithful Catholics, and proud Latinos. They wanted their film to be one where a Latino man is a hero, a role model. One which highlighted a loving Mexican family, and its positive impact on an American woman in trouble. Yes, she was going through a crisis pregnancy, and she did choose life. But they didn’t necessarily intend to step on the third rail of American politics.

I did. I saw the project as something that could move women to keep their babies. And encourage them to choose adoption over abortion. But I knew that we couldn’t lead with that. We needed the film to do well at mainstream film festivals, if we ever hoped to see it shown in theaters. So we said nothing about it as a “pro-life” film. Let people see that for themselves, by watching the movie — which we hoped would change women’s hearts, without hitting them over the head.

In the build-up to the make-or-break Toronto Film Festival (which we went on to win), our team was in Canada. We heard that Fr. Thomas Rosica was eager to interview us during the festival. I got back to him, and told him that we didn’t want to talk about the film as a pro-life vehicle, but just as a wonderful movie. He didn’t like that. He said that the pro-life theme was central, and we needed to talk about it.

We agreed to do an interview with him, but only if he promised to “embargo” the show. To air it only after the film had secured major distribution. We especially needed to win this festival, or the film might never get released in theaters, and drop like a stone in the “straight to video” well. Father Rosica agreed.

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We were driving to his studios when I got a phone call out of the blue. On the line was a 20-something employee at Salt and Light. She was crying. She told us that Father Rosica’s motives weren’t pure. That he didn’t like us or our film, and he intended to air our interview that very week. That would have been during the Festival, which then we’d be sure to lose.

I got off the phone, kind of skeptical. Would a priest really do something like that? Would a journalist break an embargo he’d promised to respect? I talked the question over with the other producers. At last we agreed. To be on the safe side, we would cancel the interview.

We turned the car around and I called Father Rosica. I told him that our schedule wouldn’t permit an interview after all.

He got violently angry, and shouted that he’d been counting on the interview to fill air time that same week. We’d left a hole in his broadcast schedule.

I was taken aback. I said, “Father, you promised us this interview wouldn’t air until after the Festival. That’s why we agreed to do it.”

Rosica got silent. He said something condescending and hung up the phone.

I guess we were foolish to trust someone, just because he wore a Roman collar. Rosica did want to politicize the film, in a way we’d warned him would sink it. And he was willing to lie in order to do that. His motives? I won’t speculate on those.

Thank God for Secular Standards

So perhaps we shouldn’t be shocked that Father Rosica flouted the most sacred academic standards. He also seemed willing to break the canons of journalism, and sabotage a crucial pro-life film. If he’d had his way, Bella would never have won any festival awards. Or shown in theaters nationwide. Those pregnant women would never have seen it, and their babies might not have been born.

I won’t mourn Father Rosica’s fall from power. It should have happened sooner. It’s ironic that he isn’t taking the fall for teaching a pagan heresy about the office of the pope. Or restricting access to the bishops meeting to dissenting, leftist media. No, it seems that on Team Francis the only way someone loses his post is to violate some secular norm or criminal law.

Like sexually badgering a seminarian who’s a day shy of 18.


Update: A former employee of Rev. Rosica has disputed Jason Jones’ account:

Jason has responded:

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