Blogging Priests And The Pope

Simon Vouet - Prudence

Simon Vouet – Prudence

I always admired the quiet style and soft diplomacy of blogging priests, a feat of which I am entirely incapable. I actually suspect in seminary they are trained to face confrontations or thorny issues in a fitting way, as I seem to recognise a certain “style” through the board; as if there were rules they all follow, though they don’t write about them.

In the last three months, the traumatic transition from one Papacy to the other has put blogging priests in front of huge challenges because of the (now) conflicting duties between loyalty to the Pope – which is clearly more pronounced in a priest than in a layman, as it should be – and the loyalty to sound – at times, basic – Catholicism, both of them slapped in the face by the present Pontiff everytime the fancy takes him to say something he thinks smart, or pleasing to his audience.

Speaking here only of the blogs I like, up to now I have recognised three styles of reaction. They all have in common a soft, diplomatic, conciliatory approach, but differ visibly in the way they do it. In my eyes, they are the following.

1. Ignore the scandals. Whenever the Pope blunders, the blogging priest of type 1 just does not write on the matter, at all. “Bishop XYZ appointed to the archdiocese of ABC”, or “Conference on TLM in ABC” are the likely blog post issues. They seem to say – without saying it – “what is a poor blogging priest to do in a situation like this…”. My sympathy goes out to them.

2. Amplify the good news. This type of blogger will insist in wanting that we see Francis as a continuation of Benedict, and exhibit in a triple salto mortale to persuade us Francis is a perfectly suited Pope, if we just care to look at things from the right angle. Not bad, merely different. Again, I appreciate the spirit and admire the good will. As I see it, though, the problem with this approach is firstly that, if you allow the metaphor, a peasant has succeeded a professor, and the difference is so brutally evident no amount of good will can ever bridge it; secondly, that the new Pontiff talks nonsense with such alarming frequency – and, which is worse, with such indifference towards his own blunders; clearly the fruit of humility – that every comparison with his extremely guarded predecessor has been untenable for the last, erm, three months. Summa summarum, I would call strategy Nr 2 a very nice try, that would have great success if Pope Francis were not so … Pope Francis.

3. Criticise brutally with nice words. This third – and by far littlest – group will word the criticism in such a way that it is still clearly within the boundaries allowed to a blogging priest, but does not hide much of everything that is going wrong. Again, I have found only very few of these blogs, but when I do they are worth the reading. They find the way to make the messages very clear, but so nicely wrapped.

It will be interesting to see how this situation evolves as this Papacy unfolds. I find it very difficult to believe Francis will want to make his reign more similar to Pope Benedict’s as time goes by; actually, I suspect the contrary will be the case, with the new Pope introducing more and more his own style (or lack thereof) in the years to come, particularly after the not improbable death of the Pontiff Emeritus (may he have a long and happy retirement) during Pope Francis’ pontificate.

We shall see. Please cut some slack to your favourite blogging priests, whose situation is rather different from the one of a layman, and not easy at all.


Posted on June 14, 2013, in Catholicism, Conservative Catholicism, Traditional Catholicism and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. More interesting to me, is the reaction of the faithful, traditional Catholic. You fill a place, a very needed place for blunt honesty. You, and other great Catholic bloggers are looking at the entire picture, and that has been more than helpful. We still need the little child to remind us when the Emperors have no clothes.

    • Reading around the blogosphere, it seems to me most prefer to say how astonishing clever it is from the Pope to pretend he is not wearing anything, whilst cleverly carrying on his work of evangelisation.

      Not even the fact that he is so popular among the… nudists seems to force them to look.


  2. Helpful analysis. I read one blogging priest whom I sense is walking a tightrope. His holiness is a tonic that keeps me in check in regards to Francis who seems to have been dropped from Mars. I long for the days of Benedict, when complete joy filled my heart and there was a lilt in my step in regards to the papacy and the future of the Church.

    Somewhere I read that the diocese of Buenos Aires under Francis was a “shabby” place, and I am haunted by a vision of a dying Church in a magnificent city near the bottom of the world. Glorious edifices of churches, empty, but with giant Pinocchio heads entombed within. Imagine the twilight of the Church in Buenos Aires…no vibrancy, no joyous faith, no big families attending TL Mass singing with reverent intensity and living the gospel given to us by Christ to counter the ugly heresy of Protestantism which runs rampant down under. I imagine a figure of an archbishop traveling down a cobbled lane to take his shoes to his personal cobbler to save a few pesos… a solitary figure, unnoticed, a diocese without the splendor of the Faith with a few apathetic Catholic stragglers while most of the sheep are consumed with the degradation of the West.

    Unfair? Perhaps, because what do I really know of the state of the Church of Buenos Aires? I do know that I would not travel to hear what Francis has to say, as I would for Benedict. I would not attend a Pinocchio Mass at a soccer stadium.

    • Not unfair at all.

      Very perceptive, I should say.

      As to the priests, these are ungrateful times for conservative blogging priests. To us, the laity, things are far easier, as we do not have the added bond of employment and hierarchical obedience added to our duties as faithful.


  3. “Blogging Priests” Priests on Facebook, and now Pope hires Management Consultant to help him reform the Curia

    Whats next, P.R. Firm to help manage gaffes, and an agent to handle book and movie deals? Ugh…thats all I can say

    • Oh, I am personally all in favour of competent people instead of incompetent ones. As they will have to re-shape the entire shops, it must be outsiders, then otherwise nothing will ever happen.

      They should be chosen among people of proven Catholic faith, though, then they are the ones best suited to understand what’s required in the end.


  4. Care to share who your favorite Priest Bloggers are?

%d bloggers like this: