Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Shine A Light: The Catholic Blogisterium

Out to reform the Church?
Or do we just write what we know and experience and observe?  Michael Voris** thinks there is more to it than that:
RealCatholicTV.com, working from studios in suburban Detroit, is hunting for "traitorous" nuns, priests or bishops throughout the American church.  "We're no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt," said Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com and St. Michael's Media. "We're just shining a light on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith."
John Allen, Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, has dubbed this trend "Taliban Catholicism." - Source
Remember they burned Savonarola.
I'm not sure I'm shining a light on people who do not live the faith - but I will discuss public figures - including clergy and religious - who may be misleading or confusing the faith.  I'm not sure why the blogosphere is so scary just because the average Catholic now has a voice.  For years people who have questioned novel teachings and practices in their diocese have been dismissed by chancery functionaries and pastors and bishops as trouble makers or sentimental old-believers: right smack in the middle of their denials regarding their abuse and cover-up in the sex-scandals.  To be sure people are not always nice - but that is definitely not a new development.  Diocesan bureaucracies have been downright vicious towards conservative Catholics in the past.  However, I think constructive criticism should be heeded by Catholic bloggers and journalists, lest anyone gets too big for his bandwidth... if you know what I mean.
For your consideration.
Nevertheless, Jesuit Fr. James Martin* makes some reasonable points regarding the issue - I'll add my commentary - just like the important people do!:
This is a disastrous trend for the Catholic church, for several reasons. (And, by the way, what I say applies to both the left and the right. And the middle, for that matter.)  [No it is not - the disaster happened - this phenomenon is part of the assessment and clean up.]
First of all, too many inquisitorial bloggers attack anonymously, which makes it next to impossible to hold them to any real accountability.  Likewise, some commenters on such blogs also hide their real identities when carrying out their attacks, which are linked to and repeated by other bloggers.  [I use my real name - just not a real photo.  I do have anonymous commenters but I will hunt them down and beat them up.  KIDDING!  Just kidding! Or am I?] 
Second, many of these attack-bloggers betray little theological knowledge.  It is one thing to be informed by a theological scholar with years of relevant experience working at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for example, that your article or book or lecture is not in keeping with the tenets of the Catholic faith.  [Seriously, this is a very good point - especially when it comes to passing judgement on canonical issues and juridical problems.  Who's a heretic and who is not.  Nevertheless - it sounds rather elitist to me - like the only valid blogs are those by academics and theologians.]
Third, the focus of their blogs is almost visibly narrow. Here are the sole topics of interest, in the order in which they cause foaming at the mouth (or on the keyboard): homosexuality, abortion, women's ordination, birth control, liturgical abuses and the exercise of church authority. Is this really the sum total of what makes us Catholic?  [No - it is not the sum total of what makes us Catholic - so let's get rid of the Ten Commandments.  C'mon - these are major issues which have undermined the faith.  These are real life issues.]
Fourth, anonymous attacks drummed up by these bloggers often make their way, slowly but surely, to the offices of church leaders, where they can do real damage to real people with real jobs in Catholic schools and universities, parishes and chanceries.  [Drummed up?  I don't think so.  There is almost always a paper trail, financial records, arrest warrants, news paper articles, and so on.  Document, document, document - I learned that in management.]
Fifth, there seems little apparent desire on the part of some of these watchdogs to speak to their targets. Rarely are the targets of ad hominem attacks contacted for any comment or explanation. And, in my experience, when you respond to some of these bloggers, while at times you will receive a thoughtful apology, or a revision on a blog, or you will agree to disagree in charity, most often than not you are met with even more invective and further hateful comments. After a while, you just find yourself give up.  [This may come as a huge surprise, but very often Catholic officials won't even respond to an email or agree to meet with a person of little or no importance.]  - America
All rightey then.
*BTW - I still Like Fr. Martin.  Some people think he looks like Stanley Tucci.  I can see it.
**Did you know some people think Voris looks like Robert Redford.  I can see it.


  1. "...To resounding applause Burke said, “When a person has publicly espoused and cooperated in gravely sinful acts, leading many into confusion and error about fundamental questions of respect for human life and the integrity of marriage and the family, his repentance of such actions must also be public.”

    The Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura then voiced a concern that struck a deep chord with many of the Catholic pro-life activists present at the conference.

    “One of the ironies of the present situation is that the person who experiences scandal at the gravely sinful public actions of a fellow Catholic is accused of a lack of charity and of causing division within the unity of the Church,” he said. “One sees the hand of the Father of Lies at work in the disregard for the situation of scandal or in the ridicule and even censure of those who experience scandal.”

    The Vatican prelate concluded the point stating:

    Lying or failing to tell the truth, however, is never a sign of charity. A unity which is not founded on the truth of the moral law is not the unity of the Church.

    The Church’s unity is founded on speaking the truth with love. The person who experiences scandal at public actions of Catholics, which are gravely contrary to the moral law, not only does not destroy unity but invites the Church to repair what is clearly a serious breach in Her life. Were he not to experience scandal at the public support of attacks on human life and the family, his conscience would be uninformed or dulled about the most sacred realities..." —LifeSiteNews, 10/15/10 Report


  2. So much for the "sensus fidelium"...that's only used when some moral teaching or dogmatic teaching is being questioned.
    Believe me, I realize that there are "nuts" in bloggerdom; and even good intentioned folks that are not "savvy" (ala Jack Spiro says in "Pirates of the Caribbean)...
    All of a sudden, things have to have somebody's "imprimatur" when before, any idiot. heretic or dissenter could say whatever...and that was his/her right.
    Well, bully!
    The heat is getting turned up a few thousand notches and the "big boys" are feelin' it...
    tell it to somebody who cares.
    Better to sort through all kinds of whatever than to have the "party line" of whatever bureaucratic 'talking head' from the USCCB or diocesan office (who often has absolutely no authority) shoved down the throats of the faithful who are already confused, demoralized and scandalized.
    This is just b.s.
    And I hope and pray that the ability for Catholics, in every station and walk of life, is not somehow stifled because "Big Brother" don't like it...

  3. I think we should flip it around: why doesn't Fr. Martin want to focus on homosexuality, abortion, women's ordination, birth control, liturgical abuses and the exercise of church authority?

    And this question, "Is this really the sum total of what makes us Catholic?" is a red herring.

    I'm not an academic (by profession anyway) nor a theologian, but I do have an opinion of Fr. Martin's work on the America blog: it is slippery.

  4. I like Voris, plain and simple and thank God for him and others and for the whole damn (ooops) Catholic Church. Whatever camp that puts me in, well, the heaven with it.

    word verification = zooter
    that's just plain funny

  5. Anonymous3:23 PM

    Thought you might like this: http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2010-10-20-catholic19_ST_N.htm?csp=usat.me

  6. Patrick: Spot on!
    What makes us Catholic is the received teaching of Our Lord, from the Apostles, in the Magisterium...and if Fr. Martin don't like it; too bad.
    I have lived through so much absolute crap (as I'm sure Mr. Terry and many of the readers here can attest) that to "neutralize" dissent and false teaching is just so off the mark.
    Get with it, Fr. Martin. And the rest of use dissenters.
    God shall not be mocked.
    Being pastoral is one thing (giving compassion and leniency to the sinner while acknowledging the sin) as opposed to making sin "good".

  7. Anonymous3:50 PM

    "Do as they say, not as they do" and that is exactly what I do do in regard to our bishops. Yes, I genuflect on my left knee and kiss their rings, whether they like it or not, but then I just do as they say and not as they do. Sadly, I trust none of them. As far as priests go, I look at them In Persona Christi. I receive the sacraments from them and THAT IS ALL. I get in and out and that is how I sadly live my faith in these troubled times.

    I spent years trying to fight the good fight. Writing charitable letters, trying to have charitable conversations, trying to ask questions to get things resolved at parish and diocesean level--no good. Just a lot of condescension. Then the scandals poured out and they keep coming.

    One priest I did trust, may he rest in peace, used to say, when we would come to him with the craziness, "Stop playing with the pagans! Just live your faith in a simple, unassuming manner. Keep your feet planted on God's green Earth, tell the devil to go to hell and keep walking toward Heaven." Well, he was right and so that is what I do now.

    I laud all of you serious Catholic bloggers out there. Seems the clergy is very frightened by this because the tables are turned, but in a good way. I don't look at these exposes as attacks on bishops and priests, but rather trying to salvage what has been lost. Where were these people 15-20+ years ago when we were trying to get them on the phone to stop the divisions? No, God has given the laity this tool. Use it for His glory and for the good of souls.

  8. Anonymous4:06 PM

    Oh, I am fuming! Yes, Fr Martin, some of us are angry because you ignored, patted us on our heads and sent us packing for years. Now we have the power to expose dissent when we see it and call the clergy out on corruption and false teaching.

    Interesting that the good priest is so concerned that people are making judgements without proper theological degrees. No, most of us do not. However, we do have something called common sense. Why is it that those of you with all of the theological degrees have made such bad decisions and have failed us the past 40 years? Answer that please.

  9. I wouldn't argue against the free exchange of ideas, and lively discussions of faith and morals in the blogosphere. Sure, people can call a spade a spade, and if the shoe fits, wear it. However some of the more vociferous ones need to remember the 8th commandment, and guard against calumny, detraction, and rash judgement. Which are still sins last time I checked.

  10. The irony: in the America blog post, Fr. Martin complains about 'attacks' and the lack of 'civility'--or, more dramatically, those who 'spew venom'--particularly through name calling that is, and I quote, "devoid of any sense of Christian charity." Father goes on in reference to a particular instance of the lack of civility: "Calling someone a 'cancer'? Does that sound like Christian charity?"

    Just ONE line above, Father employs John Allen's term "Catholic Taliban" to refer to those Father wishes to take issue with. At least the relativism is consistent.

    Other terms Father uses: "Inquisitors", "craven and cowardly", "watchdogs", "McCarthyism" (if someone made a Hitler comment...).

    Oh, and Father laments baseless ad hominem attacks too; I suppose the one he levels against those idiots who call him out on his blog can serve as an example: "It is quite another to be attacked with snide comments by someone barely out of college who spends his days cherry-picking quotes and thumbing through the Catechism in an endless game of Catholic gotcha."

    Does that sound like Christian charity?

    "They", claims Father, that is, "the Catholic Taliban," "say that calls for charity just mask dissent."

    Well, in Father's case--and this is merely the opinion of a nobody on the internet--I think that is precisely the tactic being used.

    The "those Catholics over there who 'attack' me aren't really very kind or nice" is a fair critique of behavior, but it doesn't address the problems the meanies raise with the unwillingness to address "homosexuality, abortion, women's ordination, birth control, liturgical abuses and the exercise of church authority".

  11. I'm proud to be, in Fr. Martin's terms, part of the "Catholic Taliban".
    At least I know what I believe.
    I may not live it as well as I should; but I confess my sins and try to do better.
    As for the opposite of the "Catholic Taliban"...
    well...why don't they just join or start another Church if this One doesn't suit their tastes?

  12. Terry - now you know why there will be an Apostolic Visitation of orthodox Catholic bloggers.

    That should make Fr Martin very happy.

  13. 1. Michael Voris has a STB (Bachelor's in Sacred Theology).
    2. Like Terry, I put my name on my blog.
    3. As I mentioned over at LarryD's blog, someone(s) at the Vatican are reading my blog. & I have caught Archbishop Burke saying something almost identical to something I posted more than once.
    4. The complaints about the Catholic blogs is aimed at those of us who uphold orthodox Catholic teaching despite what Fr. Martic claims. If you look most of the screaming is coming from the left who don't like it that there is an informed group of faithful Catholics who know the Catechism, have read what the Popes actually wrote as well as Church documents. They know that they can no longer use ignorance of people in the pew to foist off their agenda. They can't defend their message, so they are attacking the messenger who is showing the emporer has no clothes.

  14. Fr Martin's just perplexed at Catholic blogdom because his magazine sales are dropping exponentially because of it. Most of his comments sound like sour grapes to me.

  15. "...too many inquisitorial bloggers attack anonymously,..."

    Why would anyone pay serious attention to an anonymous comment? I don't read them when I am on somebody else's blog unless I am killing time.

    They irritate me on my own blog, especially when there is mroe than one "anon" posting.

    Chose a pseudonym if you must, but that's bad, too. I use Ray from MN, or MinnRay if no spaces are allowed. But generally it is linked to my email address or web page so people can figure out who I am. With newspapers, I use my real name, Terry Nelson.

    Pseudonyms might have value for some people (like the Pope) who want to get their message across without calling too much attention to themselves.

  16. Ray - that is funny. Next time I write something really outrageous I'll say you wrote it.

  17. Anonymous11:16 PM

    Hmmm...guess I missed something. At any rate, I never realized posting under anonymous upset so many people. I feel what I have to say is valid and so assumed my posts would speak for themselves as far as credibility goes.

    For those distraught by anon postings, please be aware it is sometimes a tech thing. The last thing I want to do is fill out one more form on the internet. In reading the above posts however, I see it means a lot to people to post with a proper identity, so I'll get my act together and create yet another account so that everyone will know who I am.

    In the meantime, I remain your faithful anon poster,

    HCC, NYC

  18. America Mag and the rest of the staff? I am reminded of what Fr. Hardons says: 1. Nothing so blinds like sin. 2. Every person in mortal sin is an agent of the enemy.
    I am proud to say very nearly all of my comments get deleted. I left stong words on this post re a the duty of a priest to save souls.

  19. Anonymous - intials and where you are from is good - thanks. Sometimes it is just nice to know that the comment isn't from a spiritual director or confessor telling me I'm going to hell. I hate it when the pope won't sign his name when he comments - he's so competitive about stats.

    Maria - I'm amazed that they would delete your comments - how un-PC of them - shouldn't all opinions be published? I'm serious. I publish every comment I get - unless there is profanity.

  20. Terry--Very nearly all of the editors and staff at America Mag, ie, priests, Martin and Keane et al are gay. They extrude comments that do not support their homosexualist agenda. They are attempting to shape the Church in their image. I just got home from work. Lord, don't get me started. They do not tolerate my Hardon quotations and Fr. Martin frequently deletes direct excerpts from the Catechsim. And, references to sin. As the Good Padre, Nazareth priest would say, foretaboutit. But, oh, calls for civility and charity abound, most notably, after a long post on how we are all so uncharitable to gays. Fr. Martin's pattern is to, almost without faul, after having decried the intolerance of the Church for homosexuakity, post a piece about "the Saints". Hence, we are meant to ideliby associate Fr. Martin w/ "the Saints" and somehow forget his homosexualist agenda. I don't.

  21. Fr. Martin SJ confirms others in their sin. Priests should not be at the helm providing an imprimatur for the perfidy of homosexuality. That he does so while simultaneously calling for charity from his readers for the same said sin is unconsienable. These priests have forgotten the mission:saving souls. Grrrrrrr.

  22. A perfect example:

    The final two comments on that post by "Dave" are spot-on.

  23. Patrick: It brings tears to your eyes. I well remember this post and
    I remember my response to the quesion Fr. Martins posed, ie, what remains to gays? My answer: "What remains, Father, is what remains for all of us: The Cross. Must we now instruct the Jesuits to review the Catechism"?

  24. Yes, it seems to me to be a failure to submit one's intellect and will to the teaching authority of the Church; rather than beginning with what the Church lays out which we must accept, and then going forward to build and expand one's worldview, theology, etc. from there, many do not seem to possess the Catholic Faith first and foremost, by which I mean all in our thinking and judgment is ultimately submitted to the Church and her teachings. So often with the "Yes, but..." kind of thinking, it's pretty evident to me that there is an agenda or concern that enjoys pride of place in these people's minds above the place that non-negotiable Church teaching holds. Without judging souls which we cannot do, it must be pointed out, it seems to me, that these people do not possess the Catholic Faith, understood rightly. They can be dangerous, and I find Fr. Martin to be a particularly dangerous 'witness' in that he is a priest, as you've noted, and also someone who apparently thoughtful and who has a voice (though the magazine, blog and even the celebrity of sorts he enjoys--I've seen him on CNN). His witness is confusing and misleading when it comes to certain key issues; readily, he will say things like "And yes, I've read the Catechism..." in the context of defending his submission to Church teaching. But when one reads what he opines at America, I don't think it's at all clear that Father accepts the Catechism fully.


Please comment with charity and avoid ad hominem attacks. I exercise the right to delete comments I find inappropriate. If you use your real name there is a better chance your comment will stay put.