If you surf around for blogs written by Catholic priests, you will not be able to avoid noticing that the tones are becoming more and more critical. Some priests are more open in their criticism and do not shy away from the “F-word” (Francis, that it). Others are more circumspect, but nevertheless very clear in what they say and who is the addressee of their complaint. Other still criticise left and right of the target, Voris-style, but you sense the darts get nearer to the bull’s eye.
One truly wonders how long this will go on.
We must understand two important elements here:
1. Dissent is acted against extremely slowly, if at all, but in the new “time of mercy” there is no mercy for Catholicism. The LCWR continue their antics undisturbed, but the FFI are brutally persecuted after suspicion of “Proto-Lefebvrianism”.
2. If a professor or a theologian dissent from Church teaching no less than an official enquiry of the CDF will, perhaps, persuade them to at least tone down their tone. In contrast, every orthodox blogging priest can be ordered by his bishop to shut down his blog overnight.
It does not take a genius to recognise that if the present “age of m… arijuana” continues, the danger that many of these blogger priests will be requested to either renounce to criticism of the Destroyer or shut down their blogs is very real.Come October, it seems reasonable to think there will be open resistance and condemnation to any Kasperite measures that were to be adopted, or proposed, or offered to “reflection”. At this point, more an dmore bishop will be tempted to “go Campbell”, and order their priest to shut down their “divisive” blogs, that puts heretics against Catholics when everyone knows Jesus wants us to all play cards together.
Many priests will, I am sure, comply in a spirit of obedience; persuaded that no blog is indispensable; that others will carry on the flag; and that the responsibility for the cessation of the blog will be exclusively on the shoulder of the bishop.
But at some point a priest will simply refuse to comply, believing that the bishop is simply not due obedience when he acts in open complicity with evil; this priest will rather invite persecution and legal confrontation than stop caring for the salvation of souls through his blog.
At this point things will become interesting, because the matter will land in front of ecclesiastical courts, and they will have a rather hard time officially sanctioning the right of a bishop to muzzle perfectly Catholic opinions of their own priests because, being Catholic, they are deemed divisive. Then the bishop himself can be asked to stop being a bishop because either he is catholic, and then he is divisive, or he is not divisive, and then he is not being a bishop.
Let this kind of legal confrontation become very frequent and very public, and what we have is a first-class showdown between perfectly Catholic priests and their perfectly anti-Catholic bishops.
It might be, I often think, good for a priest with the intention to resist the muzzling to simply state it – purely hypothetically of course – in his own blog. Something on the line of: the bishop is a wonderful, wonderful shepherd and all that, but wrong orders will not be obeyed, and if the event were to happen (which it will neva! evah!), well then in this utterly hypothetical case, see you in court.
Not that it will ever happen, of course. No. ‘Course not. Perish the thought.
In this case, I think, there would be a kind of United Catholic Front, of people who simply say “I think blogging is integral part of the way I work as a priest, and I will be a priest through my blog as I am a priest otherwise, unless I am told in court I am wrong”.
Just a thought.
Bishop Campbell has reacted to the media echo of his treatment of the blog “Protect the Pope”.
There are some huge news. And some observations worthy of the one or other comment. I see the bishop’s main points as follows:
1. The Deacon writes that the blog reflects his personal opinions, but he does say that he is a deacon of the diocese, and this could lead the readers to think that the deacon reports the views of the diocese.
Well: if they are stupid, yes. But stupidity has no rights, nor would civilisation exist if everything that can be misconstrued by the stupid would not be written or told. Still, it seems to me the bishop has another point here, that I have made in another post: if one says he is a deacon, he has spent the office he holds. At this point, his bishop and superior may well have something to say about it. If one were to say “I am the CEO of Coca-Cola and I am in favour of so-called same-sex marriage”, the representatives of the shareholders (like big investment funds) would have every right to intervene in the matter and ask the man not to mix Coca-Cola with his own freedom of expression, because it can damage the shop.
This is, I think, almost the only point the Bishop has. Let us see the rest.
2. A blog is good if it protects the Pope. It is not good if it acts as a watchdog of bishops, clergy and theologians.
The bishops has not said why being a “watchdog” would be bad, if one watches over orthodoxy, and why a bishop would be above criticism, if the criticism is made in the light of orthodoxy. Priests themselves do that all the time. Bishop Campbell is a clericalist of the worst sort. He tells you in your face that blogs must not criticise bishops. The arrogance beggars belief.
3. Criticism is particularly bad, when it is addressed to alleged dissent inside the Church.
Every one with some sense knows that the enemies within are much worse than the enemies without. The Church of the past – the thinking one – knew this very well, and acted against heresy with a determination and ferocity fully in line with the danger represented from the enemy coming from within. Ask every military man, every politician, even every football manager. This alleged argument is emotional waste for old whining women, and unworthy of an adult or of a serious discussion. Embarrassing.
Father Z writes perhaps half of his non-liturgical post against Catholic dissenters. He knows why.
4. A Deacon can say what he thinks, but not if he divides the community (e.g. through ad hominem attacks, etc.)
Yes, and no.
Truth is per se divisive. If a blogger is not divisive, he is not telling the Truth.
One might agree – I would, in general, agree – that from a Deacon or Priest one would expect a different tone than from, say, Mundabor. I am the first one to admit this. But I personally have never noticed in the blog in question anything even remotely approaching, ahem, Mundaborian tones. The problem here is the Great Disease of this country: political correctness, niceness as religion, and sissidom on steroids. Someone felt “hurt”, therefore you were too aggressive. This requires a robust answer, but sissies do not like robust answers. They like their quiet.
They do not like assertiveness, either. To the sissy, everyone’s a bully.
5. I have nothing against blogging. In fact, you must know, I write a blog myself.
A blog that no one reads, that makes those who read it fall asleep, and that disappears utterly and completely when compared to the serious blog of a serious Catholic, his own very Deacon Nick. I do not want to insult the bishop’s intelligence, but he sounds as if he believed people go on the Internet to read bishops’ blogs.
Wrong. The exact contrary is the case: they go on the Internet because of all the rubbish they hear and read from their bishops. This press release is just another example of the embarrassing mediocrity of our hierarchy.
6. I have asked the Deacon several times not to attack individual people. Unfortunately, he did not listen to me.
What does the bishop mean by “people”? ACTA? What should the Deacon have done? Write in riddles? Yes, one tries to speak about the sin without mentioning the sinner if he can. But if this cannot be done, well then: things and people will have to be called with their names. And he is not prying into the private life of people, either. ACTA isn’t a secret society.
I understand calling things with their name is unknown to the bishop. This is, very probably, the reason why he is bishop! By the by, ACTA is a scandalous group of shameless dissenters. That a bishop dares to even think to put on the same level his orthodox Deacon and a group of saboteurs and enemies of Christ says a lot about where his priorities lie. For shame.
7. Cardinal Dolan bla, bla & bla.
Let us reason about this. This bishop is addressing a multitude of justly enraged orthodox Catholic blog readers, and he tries to impress them with… Cardinal Dolan.
These people must live on the moon.
8. I am very peeved that it was made public that I wanted to silence the blog.
I am accustomed to do what I please and get away with it. I was shocked this time it was not the case. Please note: I will not be criticised. See point 2. Thanks.
(Dulcis in fundo…)
9. I have not closed the blog. The Deacon has asked to be authorised to blog again, and I have said “reflect more”.
This is the huge news.
Obviously, this is either a massive backpedaling from the bishop, or he wanted – in non-authoritative style – let the Deacon understand he does not want him to write again, but without explicitly ordering him to stop blogging. Plausible deniability, you see. Something like “I think you are not ready to start writing again, but frankly it is difficult to think that you ever will”. In any way, it seems to me the bishop is saying “I will not – I do not have the guts to – order the closure of the blog”. Which translated means: the more pressure on the bishop, the sooner the blog will be live again. Clint Eastwood, this bishop ain’t.
(9b. There will be no further comment)
(Well, that’s a relief).
This is what I have gained from the frankly embarrassing “blog release” of the bishop.
I will visit William Hill and Betfred in the next days to see if they accept bets on “Protect the Pope” being active again, under the keyboard of Deacon Nick, before the end of the summer.
If this is a prince of the church ( I know a bishop is not a Prince, strictly speaking, but you get the drift) it’s no surprise the commoners are so confused.
After the shutting down of “Protect the Pope”, I think it might be useful to write some reflections on the matter of obedience.
A Deacon, say, writes a blog saying “I am a deacon in the Diocese of X”. In this case, he is “spending” the name of the diocese and the prestige and sacredness of the Holy Orders he has received (a Deacon is, let us remind ourselves of this, ordained). As a Deacon, he owes obedience to the Bishop. Not a blind one, certainly, and not obedience to every whim of the Bishop. But certainly, when the Bishop instruct him to do something – or not to do something – that is directly related to both his activity as a deacon and the diocese presided by the Bishop, the Deacon in question should, in my eyes, seriously reflect whether he really does not want to comply.
Now, if Deacon Nick had run his blog without spending his title, it would have been, in my eyes, different. If the bishop can't tell the deacon what he has to discuss at the pub with his friends, as “Nick”, he should also not be able to tell him what to discuss on the Internet with his friends, as “Nick”. In this case Deacon Nick could, I think, have legitimately replied that his own freedom of expression, particularly when the expressions are orthodox, is nothing upon which the Bishop has any say. But this is obviously different. This is someone writing in his role of ordained man, incardinated in a diocese, and who owes obedience to a bishop.
I am not a canonist, but I think Deacon Nick could have only done one of the following:
A) inform the bishop he will continue to blog, as this is his private exercise. No mention of deacons anymore, of course, unless perhaps and for some time for the clear statement the blog reflects his private opinions and is nothing to do with the diocese or his ministry as a Deacon. If the bishop wants to drag him in front of an ecclesiastical tribunal, welcome. The blog will report everything as it happens.
B) Go to court against the bishop to obtain the removal of the order (which I suppose was given in writing, and under exercise of the bishop's authority) to stop blogging.
C) obey the bishop's order.
Now: a Deacon of all people should reflect very attentively whether A or B are really wise courses of action. Is a blog so important that it justifies a very public conflict between a deacon and his bishop? Well yes, it might be, if the Deacon thinks the order to stop blogging is a scandal that must be made public, and fought against. But the Deacon can also legitimately decide that he will fight with Padre Pio's (and countless saints besides) weapons: silence, obedience, and prayer. If the Deacon obeys to the Bishop, the latter carries the responsibility of whatever results from his order. Let God, who sees everything, give the Deacon the premium for his obedience, and the Bishop the punishment for his insolence. If it is God's will, not one but ten new blogs will be born out of this outrage, and countless blog readers will be motivated to search the blogosphere for other authentic voices, and grow in faith as a result. We must not make the mistake of thinking this matter lies, so to speak, entirely in one or two persons' hands. Dio vede e provvede. God sees and provides.
Obviously, there are cases in which disobedience is or may be the only sensible way, or the most sensible way: say, when the preservation of the Mass of the Ages is in danger, or – I add – an excellent religious order is being trampled by an unconscionable Pontiff. In these cases we have to do with the Mass, and the Mass is more serious than any blog, and take precedence before the obedience to any Pope.
But honestly, there is no scarcity of orthodox Catholic blogs. Many more will be created. Again, God can give back ten times what was taken away. Obedience should, as a reasoned choice born of faith in Providence, always be respected.
It is, therefore, not fair to say that Deacon Mick is waving the white flag, or in a way “chickening out”. Rather, I think he has decided that he will put his obedience in the hands of the Lord, and He will do with it what He thinks appropriate: rewarding, and punishing, in His own good time.
Blogs like Deacon Nick's, or mine, are but grains of sand in the great scheme of things. The Lord can decide to sacrifice them – and to sacrifice much worthier things than a blog; perhaps through the allowing of an injustice – so that in the end more good may happen.
In these matters, it is always useful to remind ourselves of God's lavish abundance, a way that to our scarcity-accustomed minds may seem wastefulness. Billions of billions of suns, and accessory planets, just to give us a glimpse of His might. Schubert was dead at not even 32. Mozart at 35. Bizet before becoming 37. Mendelssohn at 38. Chopin at 39.
St Theresa of Lisieux, a Doctor of the Church, died at 24.
If God has decided the world could do without St. Therese of Lisieux when she was only 24, methinks we can relax at the thought of the Catholic blogosphere having to live without “Protect the Pope”, or this little effort.
All those who, then, suffer this loss may do worse than wondering whether, perhaps, they might start writing their own blog. At times, unpleasant events bear great fruit. If I had not been banned from “Homo Smoke” I would never, ever have come to the idea of blogging myself. I allow myself to think that it was a wise decision and, I hope, a meritorious one. But you see here how Providence works.
Deacon Nick will, then, be a non-blogging Deacon again, and my thanks to him for his sterling work and for the example of obedience he has now chosen to give. May God reward him and his worthy wife for their effort, time, and pain.
We, the non-deacons, will continue to blog and, perhaps, to blog more numerous and more motivated than before.
God works in mysterious ways.
But most of all, God isn't fooled by Bishop Campbell's religion of niceness.
“It is with sorrow that I am writing to let you know that Bishop Campbell, the Bishop of Lancaster, has refused Nick’s request to resume news posting on Protect the Pope. Bishop Campbell has also stated that he does not want anyone posting on Protect the Pope on Nick’s behalf.
Although I have been news posting on my own behalf on the site, I now feel unable to continue.
Protect the Pope will close as a news service on Sunday 4th May, the Feast of the English Martyrs to allow a short period for readers of Protect the Pope to say goodbye to each other.
Thank you (on my own behalf) for all the prayers, support and help we have received.
Please continue to pray for our Bishop.”
With these words, Deacon Nick’s wife announced the closure of the blog on the 4th May, and left no doubt as to who is responsible for it.
Deacon Nick is a deacon and he would obey. Deacon Nick’s wife is not a deacon but she has chosen – wisely, I think – to obey, too.
“Protect the Pope” has been an orthodox, courageous voice for Catholicism. Bishop Campbell will have to answer to heaven for his decision.It is truly indicative of the time that as Catholicism in Britain sinks in a pool of common places and is headed toward irrelevance, the Bishops are busy with shutting down the sincere Catholic voices out there. The ways of Satan are also very numerous.
Deacon Nick can be proud. He and his wife have done a sterling job. He can stop blogging in the serene knowledge that he is obedient, and the responsibility of the closure of the blog rest on the shoulder of the man to whom he owes obedience. Pray for him and his wife today if you can. And pray for the bishop, poor soul.
The closure of this blog could be only the first of many.
From today, every priestly or deacon’s blog – particularly in England, where there is a precedent – can be closed par ordre du mufti whenever leftist bitches say it is “divisive”.
Bishop Campbell’s religion is clearly harmony, not Catholicism, and I wonder how many are like him, and how many more will follow in this “age of mercy” that has no mercy only for orthodoxy.
This will happen, I think, quietly and slowly, one blog at a time, and waiting for the usual,useful controversy. If, in fact, the blogger or deacon priest is good, controversies will not be awaited for long, and if the blogger priest neuters his blog to prevent closure the effect will be the same as if it had been closed.
What happened with “Protect the Pope” is very grave. It is another demonstration that Catholics are now the only legitimate enemy of Catholic bishops. The same bishop who shut down this blog will, no doubt, be engaged in various kind of ecumenical dialogue with people whose blog – mutatis mutandis – he would have shut down after three hours. But you see, they aren’t Catholics, so all is fine.
In the coming years, I was saying, we might well see the closure of many priestly blogs. But I can imagine a good number of anonymous blogs run by priests being written. Anonymous blogging is not difficult, and if done with some intelligence it is rather safe; not from the police of course; but from a nosy bishop, most certainly.
As an aside, I have written just hours ago about Father John X. It appears the man goes around threatening various blogger priests, and writing to their bishop asking that they be silenced. Now, people like him are the perfect pretext (as in: pretext; or you might say: pretext) for a bishop to silence a blog. The blog can, after the bitching, be safely described as “uncharitable, and fomenting division”. Father John X might, in fact, have been the pretext – or one of them – used by Bishop Campbell to shut down “Protect the Pope”.
The bishop should be ashamed of himself, but I doubt there are many bishops in England who still know what shame means, or how it feels. Worse, his action offers a dangerous precedent for other equally shameless bishops, and let us hope there are not too many of them around.
I repeat here what I have already written: the more moderate priestly blogs are closed, the more Catholics will read less moderate blogs like this one. And if a bishop thinks lay bloggers cannot be very effective in exposing the shame of the modern church, a smart bishop he ain’t. This, beside the fact that many lay bloggers might be, in fact, priests.
Catholics do not browse the Internet for Catholic blogs because they do not know what to do with their time. They do it because they are fed up with the Bishop Campbells of the world, and have decided to seek some sound Catholicism on the net. And yes, Catholicism is divisive.
Christ came with a sword.
Bishop Campbell came with a tomato soup can.
Enriched with hemlock.