Friday, June 18, 2010

Bishops Are Very Troubled By Catholic Blogs...

Okay then - "some Catholic blogs"Like Cathy's and Kat's and Larry's and Fr. ___ and Cardinal___ and....  (Sorry - I can't help myself.) 
Gee... I wonder why?

Bishop Gabino Zavala, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles and Chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Communications Committee, recently spoke at the annual Catholic Media Association convention. He had a lot of really good things to say, particularly about what it means to be faithful Catholics in the media and what we can teach the secular media in the process. But he also had a message for Catholic blogs:

“There was consistent agreement [among brother bishops] that one aspect that is most alarming to us about media is when it becomes unchristian and hurtful to individuals. For example, we are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.” - Matthew Warner

I've been saying this all along.  We bloggers are mean S.O.B.s sometimes - I'm repenting all of the time.  I have to say, I think I'm really with the bishops on this one.  In fact, I think they should set up new guidelines... Such as:  Only designated, properly educated Catholics - preferably with degrees - should be allowed to blog - and then only after their posts have been approved by a committee at USCCB headquarters.  (Committee still to be set up.)  Absolutely no criticism of Catholic priests or bishops would be allowed - not even constructive criticism.  The bishops need to take control of all those loose canons out there - no pun intended.  If they take care of the blogger problem, maybe then they can focus the rest of their energies on big issues such as Global Warming. 
Seriously.  Tongue-out-of-my-cheek and all sarcasm aside - the bishop really does make a valid point.  That said, he and his colleagues need to wake up to the fact that many Roman Catholic people (not just bloggers) have been - and continue to be - very troubled by some Catholic bishops... as well as the USCCB bureaucracy.


  1. Well, I have a thing or two to say to that bishop, and I'm going to put up a blog post right this very minute!!!!

    In all seriousness, though, he does have a point. Being in the marketplace of ideas, us lay Catholics have to be more careful in our tone and always speak charitably, even when we're right. Lots of non-Catholics read our blogs, too, and if we appear to be as b*tchy as the Episcopalians, then who's gonna want to be a Catholic?

    I'm not changing my post about Bp Trautman, though. He's got to stop whining about the new translation already.

  2. I think there is so much friction around this issue because it is such a delicate balance. It's a delicate balance between providing just and righteous criticism out of love vs. denigrating to backbiting and detraction. In Matt. 18:15-17 it says how to prevent scandal you should go to the person first and if that doesn't work go to the church. And what seems to be happening is that on all sides that is *not* happening. So you have some bishops who are complaining out in the open about something they should not be making public and instead should be taking it to the church. Since they are not, it causes scandal in the Body of Christ and it gets talked about on the internet. But then those people talking about it do so in such a way that furthers the scandal as they too are not following Matt. 18:15-17 and they are denigrating to detraction rather than speaking in love. Of those people critiquing and complaining about bishops-how many take the time to pray for those same bishops? Also, as people critique they seem to forget that a priest is still a priest. You don't have to agree with some of the inaction etc. on their part, but no matter how justified your indignation and frustration may be, you do need to be respectful. (I am saying "you" as a general term and it is not directed at anyone specifically! And is also directed at *myself*)

  3. I do agree with both of you as well as the bishop's remarks and concerns.

    I'm not so sure this blog is even on anyone's radar screen amongst the USCCB. Admittedly, I have difficulty when comes to 'respect of persons' at times, although I respect the office.

    It seems to me there are other very mean spirited blogs the bishop may really be referring too however - commentators included. 'Throw the Bums Out' comes to mind, then there is that group of guys who were out to discredit the USCCB fundraising connections, and of course the liturgical blogs which nail certain bishops all of the time. I can think of at least one priest who may not be on the A-list because of his opinions - and for heaven's sake, don't forget the Trad blogs. I've also read some pretty harsh things said about bishops because they aren't waving the wand of excommunication for politicians and radical nuns.

    What to conclude by the bishop's statements other than the obvious? Perhaps the bishops aren't as open to transparency as they say they are. Nevertheless, as public figures they are subject to criticism - when done by Catholics, it should be charitable - but that doesn't mean it's always 'nice', or easy to hear.

    A cappa magna covers a multitude of sins for only so long you know - eventually the dress has to come off.

    Bishops and their flocks have to get real.

  4. Okay..I'll behave myself on my comments...I'll try anyway.

  5. " ...preferably with degrees - should be allowed to blog..." Terry

    LOL ... oh come on now, ya know the weirdness there too ... there is no escape ...

  6. J Man8:53 PM

    I am going to have to side with the bishops to the extent that there are views expressed on some blogs so impolitic that the bishops dont want to be associated with them.

    It is not criticism of the church per se (heck the secular media does that all the time), but rather the divisiveness of some blogs that call themselves "catholic" that troubles them.

    For instance, the USCCB's position on immigration is a bit different than what you will read on some blogs that call themselves "catholic."

  7. Free speech aside, I'll side with them too, mostly.
    Venom is so common on blogs of all kinds, chiefly the political and religious ones. The political ones I can understand (though it irritates me): politics is a dirty business.
    The religious venom drives me bonkers.
    We are NOT going to win many converts with a poison pen.

  8. Aceman10:24 AM

    If it wasn't for a very concerned blogger, the Orthodox Church in America (OCA) would still be mired in corruption, right from the top! You bloggers rule!


  9. My Bishop, Vlazny, spoke on Catholic communications and the address by Bishop Gabino Zavala; with a pointedly Oregon twist...

    "He also issued a cry for civility and a move away from positions of attacking or being defensive. He also addressed the concerns heard by many church leaders these days about blogs that “engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language.” Here in Oregon we too suffer from such actions and activities that harm the communion of our church."

    I know of one such blog my Bishop is refering to here in Oregon; She has long been a pro-life advocate in the Archdiocese and staunch supporter of the "Teaching" Magisterium. And as we all know, if you defend authentic Catholic teaching and support directives from Rome in this current environment there is bound to be what appears to be judgmentalism and divisiveness, when really the person is simply insisting on catholic orthodoxy and obedience.

    As fellow member (along with the woman) of the Catholic Media Coalition, I'm one of those who strongly support reform of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development; and I can't help thinking that these critical comments by my bishop and Zavala concerning blogs are related. At least in part.

    For instance, my pastor asked if I would create a blog for our parish mission (on my Wordpress). The only problem was he wanted me to do so without linking my own blog to the new one-- I was told it was because of my 'Reform CCHD Now' tag, which Archbishop Vlazny wholeheartedly supports.

    Geez... Maybe I'm one of those blogs?

    Like you Terry, I don't think I'm on the radar... Soon to be target?



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