Prayer Should be Free

Yesterday my friend, Liturgy of the Hours expert Daria Sockey gave me a heads-up that my favorite Liturgy of the Hours app was being removed from the App Store and Google Play Store because of copyright issues with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

We have been a ministry dedicated to bringing the Liturgy of the Hours to everyone everywhere for many years. We grew out of an RCIA Committee to become facilitators of thousands of people who pray together. I have dedicated more than 10 years in God’s service to this work. In that zeal to serve and naivety we acquired some permissions, but we are missing some key ones. —Dane Falkner, producer of Divine Office

Daria kindly gave me permission to share her article on the subject at CatholicMom.com, encouraging readers to purchase the app at a discounted price before it would be removed from the stores today.

And then, overnight, the app was pulled from the stores early; it appears that pressure was brought to bear by the USCCB.

I’m all for giving credit where credit is due and for obtaining permission before using text or images that belong to other people.

But the USCCB’s policy of requiring complicated permissions on their translation of Biblical texts is absolutely ridiculous and counterproductive. Divine Office’s app and website are there to help people pray.

This is not the first time this has happened; see Matthew Warner’s comments on Daria Sockey’s original post on this subject.

The USCCB and LEV need a serious wakeup call when it comes to this stuff. They are literally requiring you to pay them money in order for you to share the bible, catechism and other liturgical texts with people FOR FREE. It’s insane and the definition of scandal. They are literally SELLING CHURCH TEACHING. This is not like selling a book or some material (where clearly the physical item and those who produce, market and distribute deserve just compensation). But even if I want to take the most basic and essential church teachings, do ALL of the work myself to share it with somebody, give it to people FOR FREE…the USCCB and LEV STILL demand somebody pay them huge amounts of money (royalties), all for helping them do the work of the Church! It’s insane and we should be ashamed. Bishops should be outraged the the organization that represents them is going around threatening to sue the good guys and implementing policies that don’t stop the bad guys. —Matthew Warner

What can you do to help save DivineOffice.org?

Daria has some good ideas. I’ve summarized them here, but go to her blog for full information.

  • register as a user on their website (it’s FREE) while you still can
  • respectfully write to your Bishop and to Bishop Serratelli (of the Paterson, NJ diocese)
  • donate to DivineOffice.org to help with the legal expenses they will undoubtedly incur as they fight to keep their site open and their app available

And please spread the word. I’ve seen hashtags #prayershouldbefree and #freetheword and #savedivineoffice — and the USCCB is on Twitter @USCCB. Find Divine Office on Twitter @DivineOffice.

Divine Office for FI prayer should be free

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