Daily Archives: April 2, 2014
And so you are now, dear reader, a Pope. A Very Bad One. I mean, one of those Gandhi-cum-Dalai Lama people unable to go beyond the most banal platitudes, but so much in love with themselves they will do everything to please the world that lavishes praises on them.
One of the problems you have, my dear reader turned bad Pope, is the army of divorced Catholics who live with their lovers. This bothers you. Not, mind, because they live with their lovers; rather, because they lament your Church’s (and, by extension, yours) lack of approval for their behaviour. You like approval. These people are very loud. They think like the world, and the world likes them, and you want to be liked by the world. Ergo, you must do something for them.
Now: being a bad Pope, you also think that all these old notions of “judging others” should be discarded. If people are in good faith and follow their conscience, who are you to judge? A scribe? A hypocrite? A Holy Card face?
No, you have to do something there. Still, you realise that fundamental changes in the way the Church operates would cause a huge stir, and real doctrinal changes are not allowed to you anyway. After talking to your advisors – the homosexual friend of yours is a smart chap; yes, you know, but who are you to judge? – they suggest that you do the following:
1. Announce an extraordinary synod, taking your time: 13 or 14 months, say. This needs to be prepared carefully, you know.
2. Allow those most interested in material changes to make a lot of noise, demand shockingly sweeping reforms, and even create the expectation that they are now unavoidable. You will support them not openly, but clearly enough. You will talk generally of the necessity of “not judging”, and they will fill your slogan with the desired content. You will praise the one or other Cardinal on their side. But not too much. You are on the sidelines.
3. Wait for the unavoidable reaction and huge resistance, which you know will come. Allow the opposing camps to fight it to the knife; all the while inviting the contending parties to “tolerance”, “dialogue” and, of course, “charity”. At this point, the two sides have equal dignity. It’s not about right and wrong, you will let it transpire; rather, it is about how mercy must be lived in these oh so new times of ours, in which new phenomena, unknown to humanity before, have appeared: like sluttish wives and horny husbands, broken marriages and public concubines. If the Cardinals are against you, you will use the bishops – far more numerous, younger, and hungrier – to let things go your way. It’s not you, you see. It must be the “Spirit”. You will talk about the “Spirit” a lot; because like parsley, the “Spirit” can be used everywhere.
4. At the very end, intervene with a solution that whilst negating to the reformers the absurdly unrealistic changes they have pretended to demand, concedes to them vastly more than what would have been feasible if the unrealistic and absurd demands had not been made in the first place. You have listened to everyone. You have noticed the cry for help, the need for reform. You can feel the “Spirit” work. The reforms of VII must be continued. We live in the time of mercy now.
At this point, you have delivered for your friends more than they could ever dream of, whilst being presented by your useful idiots – a Pope has never any scarcity of those – as a merciful, conservative Pope wisely steering the Church through difficult times. Countless bloggers will praise your delicate and pastoral hand, and the Catholic Press will start to prepare the faithful for your now allegedly unavoidable canonisation.
5. This is the consolidation phase, the maintenance programme, but also the harvest time. The world will rejoice. You have delivered again. The secular press will point out to how much you are demolishing, er, modernising, the way the Church understands Herself. They will send to their readers the clear message that the Church was always wrong anyway, and you get it; that you are now destroying all that can reasonably be destroyed considering the constraints of your position; that whilst still the Pope, you are on their side. They will still feebly criticise you at times – for example, for not openly celebrating sodomy – but this will work for you just fine, as the Pollyannas’ Army will immediately pick up every criticism to shout to the world how orthodox you are. “Is the Pope Catholic?”, they will ask, smiling. Business as usual, folks. Nothing to look at; or, as the Italian guard would say: circolare, circolare!
At this point, your victory will be almost total. Yes, a minority of party-poopers will insist in criticising you. They will do so vocally, insistently, for as long as you live. They will use harsh words. But you are prepared. You will launch the Pollyannas’ Army against them; you will talk all the time about the “judgmental” people, the “hypocrites”, the “Neo-Pelagians”. You will call them all sorts of names and insult them in all possible ways, whilst repeating without pause that we must not be judgmental. They will never be destroyed, but they won’t be much in your way, either, at least if things go according to plan. You will, in fact, try to use them to present yourself as the innocent victim of “judgmentalism”, the man of mercy criticised by two-dimensional, holy-card-like “people of the law”.
Dear reader and bad Pope, as a I write this you are at point 2, and everything is going according to plan. Point 3 will be a huge shock for Catholics, but it will work well for you. Point 4 will be the most difficult for you personally. Point 5 might be challenging but, given time, perfectly doable.
At every moment, you will be free to backpedal if you see the game is getting too dangerous. You will be, at all times, the one who calls the shots, the one who brakes publicly and sends covert messages it is time to put the foot on the gas again. Nothing will be directly attributed to you until the very end; and when the end game comes you will be seen to merely react, wisely and pastorally, to external circumstances, whilst listening to the Spirit.
So do not worry. Allow other people to fight your fight. But you, you just stay calm: kiss children, embrace wheelchairs, stay near to the cameras, and prepare the ground.
There’s no downside for you. You will get out of this as the winner anyway.
The world is such a fool.
And it came to pass an excellent, not or not constantly moderated blog was disrupted for weeks on end by the usual – possibly only one – suspects. The comments are now suspended as the blog owner examines ways to improve things.
The platform I use does not leave one with many choices. You can’t, for example, say “some commenters get in the moderation queue, others are free to write”. What you can do is to moderate everyone or no one, and obviously allow some names to get directly in the rubbish bin.
I do not know what other platforms allow, and I do not care because what I have now is perfectly fitting for my tightly monitored blog. But if I were to allow unmoderated comments I would use the following policy:
1. Make clear to my readers I go through the comments possibly every day, every second day at the maximum. This would have to be put in the line inviting people to comment.
2. When I do so, I delete all comments of disrupters, and all comments of those who react to them. Without exception, and in full.
As a result, every conversation two or more days old would be guaranteed troll-free. But those messages that feed the trolls would be deleted too, and they would be deleted even if a great part of the message was not about the troll.
Everyone would soon understand real troll feeding is wasted time, and actually even an oblique reference to the troll causes all the work to be lost. The troll is left alone, with a stage that will go on for some hours. The lurkers will soon notice almost no one reacts to the troll, and certainly no one of the frequent posters. Those who do – and some would, for the fun of it – would post short, copy and paste messages like “this will soon be deleted together with your reaction, so just ignore it”, or very short funny remarks about the message about to die, and so on. Those who don’t learn to react appropriately and actually answer to the troll quickly learn it wasn’t the smart thing to do. Trolls are immediately put in the spam list with their email address – which the blog owner can always read -, so they will need a new email for every trolling exercise.
Of course, if one has better technical options at his disposal this can be different.
But I think this can be enough of control – and a useful training to self discipline and humour concerning trolls – to allow blogs not to be highjacked by them.
Just a thought.
As for my little effort, nothing will change.
No “Ganganelli” here, either.
What follows is the complete text of a letter written by Father Brian W. Harrison, O.S. from St. Louis, Missouri.
The letter appeared on Catholic Family News’ blog. Emphases in bold. Comments in red.
Dear Dr. Moynihan,
In your latest Letter from Rome, commenting on the new appointments to the College of Cardinals, you report rather nonchalantly that “[Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig] Müller is also known for having said that the Church’s position on admitting to divorced and remarried Catholics to the sacrament of Communion is not something that can or will be changed. But other German Church leaders, including Cardinal Walter Kasper, have recently gone on record saying the teaching may and will be changed.”
Your brief, matter-of-fact report on this controversy reminds me of the tip of an iceberg. It alludes to, but does not reveal the immensity of, a massive, looming threat that bids…
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