‘Sally on Sunday’ is Radio Scotland’s answer to BBC Radio 4′s popular ‘Desert Island Discs’, where another Scots presenter – Kirsty Young - interviews famous personalities and plays their favourite music.
Every Sunday, Sally Magnusson slips out of her newsreader’s role to play hostess with the mostest on Radio Scotland. Her TV and radio appearances and hearances, respectively, communicate a sweet, very personable, lady about town.
More times than you’ve had haggis & neeps, Sally Magnusson has interviewed Ronnie Convery (you know, the Communications Director for the Archdiocese of Glasgow) – Mr Convery ManyPeople – but today, Sunday 9th November, she moved up a notch in the world of religious broadcasting and found herself a real live priest to interview.
‘Father’ David Cotter of St Aidan’s, Johnstone – Diocese of Paisley - is the latest priest to hit the Scottish airwaves – albeit, in his case, with an American accent. Lately, I’ve taken to putting inverted commas round the title ‘Father’ because, try as I do, I just cannot take these dissenters seriously as Catholic priests.
So, what will you hear when you click on the link below, to the ’Sally on Sunday’ broadcast? You’ll hear two things to shock. Firstly, a priest promoting president-elect Obama and belittling the few American bishops who did their level best to stop Catholics voting for that barbarian, dismissing his policy on same-sex unions and referring more than once to Obama’s position on “so-called life issues”.
He cunningly weighed Obama’s pro-abortion-to-the-point-of-infanticide voting record – that is, the murder of the most vulnerable and completely innocent beings in the entire universe – with his anti-Iraq war policy and threw in the Church’s support for capital punishment to further muddy the waters. I’m truly surprised we’ve not heard of this disgraceful priest before. It’s taken the Protestant Sally Magnusson to bring him to our attention. He’s now got our attention, big-time. Oh and when I refer to Sally’s Protestantism, I should add that her usual, carefully crafted, ecumenical veneer crumbled when she grasped the opportunity given to her by this bad priest to mock Our Lady.
Yes, you guessed: that’s the second shocking thing that you’ll hear when you click on the link to ‘Sally on Sunday’. ’Father’ Cotter and Sally Magnusson are at one in mocking our beautiful prayer to Our Lady – the Ave Maria, a prayer straight out of Sacred Scripture, sung, sensationally, by the latest showbiz discovery, the singing group, The Priests. Now, I intensely dislike this growing practice of priests singing semi-professionally, whatever the excuse. The world of the theatre and show business is diametrically opposed to everything that should direct and occupy a priest. I have to admit, though, that their rendering of Ave Maria was easily one of the most beautiful I have ever heard. See if you agree.
Whether you agree with me on that or not, though, I’d be amazed if you are not profoundly shocked at the conversation which immediately followed it. Sally Magnusson laughs and tells ‘Father’ Cotter that he’s not looking quite as transported as might be expected, adding: “You become immune to it after a while”.
This unconscionable priest joins in the laughter and agrees that “you do hear it with a certain frequency…”
The giggly pair then enjoy a joke about contacting his agent to see what he can work out in terms of a possible career move for ‘Father’ Cotter … Well, here’s a message from Catholic Truth, straight from the heart: please do. Soon. That you’re no use as a Catholic priest is eminently clear from your interview on Sally on Sunday.
Your mocking laughter on hearing ANY rendition of the Hail Mary, can only come straight from Hell. The inspiration to mock and roll your eyes, to quote Sally, after hearing what anyone with a soul would consider to be an eminently beautiful performance of Ave Maria, (by fellow priests, no less) emanates from precisely the same place. For a Catholic priest to mock the beautiful Ave Maria is nothing short of despicable. Diabolical and despicable.
I’ll pass over in near silence what I think about Sally’s pronouncedly UN-ecumenical insult to traditional Catholic sensibilities. There’s some little excuse for her – she’s a Protestant and Protestants have never pretended to have any love for Our Lady. Sadly. She obviously does have a love for our national poet, Robert Burns, though, for she played one of his poems and believe me, there was no mocking of the Rabbie Burns piece which was as tuneless as the Ave Maria had been heavenly. Mind you, I’m the wrong person to ask – I can’t stand (most of) Burns’ alleged poetry.
Now, I happen to know that Bishop Tartaglia is as computer literate as Bill Gates. He’ll read this. If he didn’t know before that he’s got a problem in St Aidan’s in Johnstone, he knows now. In his shoes I’d be sending for the anything-but-Reverend Cotter and reminding him that we still have planes going to the States and we can still afford a one-way ticket for him, credit crunch or no credit crunch. Contact Miss McMoneypenny if you need financial assistance, Bishop Tartaglia, because this is one cause we’re happy to support.
Remember – Fr John Fitzsimmon, the last Paisley priest-broadcaster to host his own show on Radio Scotland, caused much scandal and ignored all our approaches to mend his ways. He died on 17th May, the very day of our Conference. If only he’d taken the hint. Rev. David Cotter looks set to become Fizsimmons, mark two.
What do YOU think Bishop Tartaglia should do about this latest priest from his patch to hit the airwaves? He must do something before ‘Father’ Cotter, like ‘Father’ Fitzsimmons before him, progresses to his own show, misleading listeners about the nature and purpose of the Church and – as he did in conversation with Sally Magnusson – distorting Catholic Teaching. Just listen to the rubbish he talks about conscience for an example of the way he twisted doctrine on ‘Sally on Sunday’.
Click on the link to ‘Sally on Sunday’ and then tell us, asap, what you think Bishop Tartaglia should do. http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00ff7nj (listen again – 9th November, online for six days)
Update – 18/11/08
Today, I was proved wrong. Contrary to my comment in yesterday’s update, Bishop Tartaglia had not stopped answering my emails. And we must, at least, give him credit for this good grace – unlike some of his brother bishops, Bishop Tartaglia does reply to our communications. In his email today, he writes:
“I know you will write what you want to write about Father David Cotter’s radio interview. I have attached a few thoughts of mine on the matter. I rather hoped you would moderate your attack on him in the light of these observations.”
Now, listen. There ain’t been no “attack” on Father Cotter, here at Catholic Truth. There is no shortage of gloves-off commentary on his radio performance, that’s true, but we provided a link to the show so that readers could hear him for themselves. I’ve not had a single email nor are there any comments on the two threads about Fr Cotter arguing a different interpretation from mine, of his words and actions.
I know that calling him “Cowboy Cotter”, not to mention poor Sally Magnusson “Syruppy Sally” is not very nice. (Edited out later, headline changed, because I felt bad about that) But it is about the only perk there is in this job, that I get to use a wee bit of poetic licence now and again. There’s no money in it and the hours are terrible. Truth is, I like Sally Magnusson. She IS nice (and not really “syrupy” – sweet, not syrupy) And I’ll say this for her: in all the years I’ve heard her on radio and TV, when she has frequently mentioned her Protestant faith, I’ve not once heard her mock any aspect of it. Not once. She is a loyal Protestant – ‘Father’ Cotter take note. So, I’ve been a bit naughty with the poetic licence, I’ll give you that, but we have to have a laugh, don’t we?
In any event, rather than go over the whole story again, I believe that – in order that justice be served - the fair thing for me to do now is to publish Bishop Tartaglia’s commentary and allow readers to re-assess the whole situation in the light of his remarks. If you think my interpretation has been flawed, please say so. You’d be wrong, but my up-market team of regular bloggers will soon demonstrate that, so see if I care. Be upstanding now, please, for Bishop Tartaglia…
Bishop Tartaglia’s comments on Fr Cotter’s radio interview
With regards to your various emails on the subject of Father David Cotter’s radio interview last Sunday morning on Sally Magnusson’s programme, “Sally on Sunday”, I hope you will bear in the mind the following in whatever you choose to write in Catholic Truth:
1) Father Cotter’s interview was rather brief and could not be said to be an in-depth analysis of the matters which were touched upon rather superficially. It is most unwise and unfair to demonise Father Cotter on the basis of that radio programme.
2) Father Cotter said nothing at all about Our Lady or about the Hail Mary. He merely suggested that the recording of Schubert’s Ave Maria which was played to him was not to his taste.
3) Father Cotter revealed that he voted for Barak Obama in the presidential election. He tried to explain that a vote for Obama was not necessarily a vote for his policies in favour of abortion and gay rights. It is possible to discuss further what Father Cotter said, but it is premature and therefore unjust to infer the worst from what he said or did not say.
4) It is reported that a goodly minority of American bishops advised Catholics in their diocese that abortion is not just one subject among others, but is a defining subject for the Catholic conscience. This is advice with which I totally concur. But, unless I am mistaken, no Catholic bishop said that American Catholics must not vote for Obama. They recognised that the choice had to come from within, not from positive law. And the United States Bishops’ Conference, which is very worried about Obama’s pro-abortion policies, did not have a declared position on which candidate Catholics should vote for.
5) I am unwilling to bow to pressure to reveal what transpired between me and Father Cotter about his radio interview. Bishop Philip Tartaglia
Ed: I’ve emailed to thank Bishop Tartaglia for this response and to remind him that I did not expect him to spell out what transpired between him and Father Cotter; I merely asked for his reassurance that he would address the issues with Fr Cotter and it would appear that he has, indeed, done so – I’m sensing that the above comments are Fr Cotter’s self-defence. I could be wrong. Tell us what you think.
Update – 17/11/08
After posting this thread, I had an exchange of emails with Bishop Tartaglia who disagrees with my assessment of Father Cotter. Clearly, however, the Bishop knows perfectly well that openly supporting a politician as viciously devoted to the culture of death as Barack Obama is not quite the thing for any priest to do, and I suspect that he also realises that a priest who can mock the Hail Mary is not the kind of priest to whom you want to be seen giving your unqualified support, so he’s allowed himself this minimal qualification about Fr Cotter’s radio interview:
There are many points for debate and discussion which arise from what Father Cotter said. But it seems premature and hasty to conclude that Father Cotter has dissented ‘tout court’ from Catholic teaching. (Bishop Tartaglia, email, 13/11/08)
“Premature and hasty?” I don’t think so. Let’s take what Fr Cotter said about conscience. To clarify Fr Cotter’s remarks, the Bishop must answer the following question…
May Catholics vote for a political candidate who not only supports abortion legislation but wants to extend it up to birth? (Remember, John McCain, alternative candidate, is pro-life).
Bishop Tartaglia has stopped answering my emails, so there’s no point in me writing to ask him if Father Cotter has correctly described the teaching of the Church on conscience (even tongue in cheek).
But, why don’t you ask him that key question? Email email@example.com