I seldom take part in bloggers’ controversies. When I do, I tend not to write the name of the culprits, unless there are very valid reasons to do so.
Today, the reasons are there.
I desire to express here my solidarity with New Catholic, concerning the way a Fr. Geiger – who has his own blog and is one of the handful of rebels of the FFI who gave Francis the pretext for the disgraceful persecution, subversion and probable liquidation now ongoing – obsessively, and I mean by that obsessively attacks him and the whole team of Rorate Caeli, but particularly him.
Far more powerful voices than mine have already intervened in favour of New Catholic and Rorate Caeli. Roberto De Mattei has a beautiful article mainly dealing with this. I will not add much on what De Mattei has brilliantly exposed, nor do I have any doubt the vast majority of my readers are on the right side on the FFI persecution and can distinguish a true man from a false one, a John from a Judas.
Still, I would like to point out a couple of things:
1. Father Geiger shows a personal fury against Rorate Caeli (and, in particular, against New Catholic) which, if worthy of reproach in a lay blogger, is outright disgraceful in a religious. But again, this is one able to mount a palace revolt against a saintly man like Father Manelli, and of being an accomplice at every step of the subversion of a succesful, and 100% orthodox order like the FFI; so he is acquainted with disgraceful behaviour.
2. Father Geiger continuously uses his blog to attack other Catholic bloggers of perfectly orthodox attitude.
When Bishop Campbell ordered Deacon Nick to suspend the blog “Protect the Pope”, the official motivation was his request to Deacon Nick to “enter a period of ‘reflection and prayer … on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.”’
I wonder whether these words, so unjustly applied to Deacon Nick, would not find a much more suitable application in the case of Father Geiger, a man whose obsession with New Catholic would put into question the soundness of his arguments against him even if they had any.
Allow me to express through my blog the appreciation, which I am sure many, many thousands have, for the sterling work of New Catholic, whose blog is a constant, precious source of accurate and orthodox information in the mad times we are living.
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.
“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.
I have no objection to censorship, if it is done within a settled legal framework; that is, by a qualified Censor librorum who, if he withholds a Nihil obstat, gives and is required to give precise reasons for doing so. I would have no criticism if the system were not only restored, but extended to the blogosphere, and, of course, to clerics and laics who write columns and editorials in 'catholic' journals! But it has fallen into disuse. My apprehension is that a public and canonical process might have been replaced by something furtive; that a bishop (or whatever) might act resentfully but covertly because of views which are doctrinally orthodox but which don't suit his personal agenda. Or that censorship might function as an informal, unminuted, understanding within an Inner Circle that X is 'off-message'; with subsequent disadvantages for X. In other words, I fear that what, at first sight, looks like a libertarian advance (the disappearance of formal Censorship), might in reality be simply a Bullies' Charter. As I have written before, I regard Dogma and Law as the safeguard of ordinary Catholics, both lay and clerical, against Arbitrary Power.
Firstly, I understand Father's concerns: when official control is substituted for unofficial suggestions to shut up, a huge door is open to, well, episcopal bullying. It grates me no end, for example, that in the matter of “Protect the Pope” the bishop asked Deacon Nick to stop blogging, without any public explanation of why a bishop asks a very public blogger to stop his very public blogging activity. Basically, it simply cannot be excluded Deacon Nick was requested to, ahem, “pull a Werling” and just be silent, losing his face as the bishop saved his. Fortunately, when Deacon Nick informed his readers of the fact he did not just state that he had decided to, but that he had been requested by the Bishop to, well, shut up; which in turn caused the many mails to the bishop; which in turn caused the press release with the notorious words I have already mentioned on this blog, and which put bishop Campbell, erm, rather in the soup.
Father Hunwicke's fear that “a Bullies' Charter” might be advancing is, therefore, entirely justified. Imagine that: you are a blogger priest, or a blogger deacon, and the Bishop summons you and tells you to stop blogging and not to tell your readers who has asked you to do so, in order not to foment “division” and “disharmony”. What now, skipper? When you add to this that that particular blogger has been asked by the bishop to stop blogging (call it as you want: that's what it is) because he was being a brave Catholic blogger, you get the picture.
Having said that, Father Hunwicke's censorship proposal is in my eyes entirely unfeasible. The huge number of blogging priests out there would cause an unmanageable administrative work and cost only to control what is going on; it would obviously be completely unrealistic to think that every blog post receives a previous nihil obstat, but it is not realistic to think that every blogger with holy orders receives one before starting to blog, and is monitored afterwards. This as we write the year 2014; but what might happen in the year 2024 or 2034 makes the idea of either previous control or institutionalised monitoring even less viable. Besides, if a nihil obstat is necessary for a new priestly blog, it would be very easy to put sand in the mechanism by just “delaying” approvals for new priestly blogs; there's no urgency to give approval to your blog, Father X; there are enough already of those.
Moreover, many priestly blogs exist exactly to provide a voice outside of the mainstream Vatican PC information. Would an excellent priestly blog like Traditional Catholic Priest obtain the coveted nihil obstat? I doubt it. What about Father Rodriguez? Or Gloria TV? Would we ever know that such and such an initiative was proposed and rejected, and why? You wish. It would be covert bullying instead of overt one; but in the end, much of a muchness. I do not doubt the likes of Nicholson and the other chap with the sword would obtain the Nihil obstat, but as Nicholson and his ilk are part of the problem we would be on square one.
This, only considering the blogs run by priests or deacons. If we extend the policy to the immense world of blogging laymen, the idea becomes utterly outlandish; besides the fact that most lay bloggers would react to the request of the bishop to stop blogging with a smile; if they are in a good day, that is. Hey, the bishops – and now the Bishop of Rome – are the main reason why they are blogging in the first place, so it would be like asking a physician to stop curing bubonic plague because there's an epidemy going on.
What to do, then?
My idea would be – and this is also what is going to happen, volens nolens – that everything continues as it is; that blogger priests blog because they are priests who feel they should blog and this is perfectly in line with the new evangelisation mantra, and that bishops stop them if they feel the blogger priest should be stopped; which unavoidably will – unless the priest does not even want to say that he was requested to stop blogging – be subject to public scrutiny, possibly involving not only bishop Campbell, but bishop Heinz and bishop Baxter as well.
Obviously, a priest or deacon can blog anonymously, de facto if possibly not de iure. The old and lamented Kreuz.net blog – forced to close by the German Gaystapo – was certainly the work of priests, and of excellent ones at that. But again, those must have been priests who needed that their bishop does not know they are blogging, lest the V II thought police intervenes.
The fact is, though, that by the grace of God we live in a time of atomised information sources, and this seems destined to increase in the foreseeable future. No bishop, no censor librorum, no Pope, not even the US secret services will be able to shut down this flow of information. The control of this tsunami of ASCII characters will be left to the reader, who will pick among the bonanza of sources those he find most worthy of his time. The reader will decide if he finds, say, Campbell's soup or the Deacon's pie or Mundabor's fettuccine to his taste, and there is no way anyone else can change this.
In short, this means that the best way for the bishops to prevent the spreading of bad blogging is by encouraging the spreading of sound Catholic instruction. This will in turn automatically filter away the bad sources, and reward the good ones.
Unfortunately, the spreading of sound Catholic teaching is exactly what bishop Campbell wants to prevent; which in turn means what we already know from the start: to wit, that bishops who try to stop bloggers are embarrassed by the bloggers making the job they are supposed but refuse to do: feed the sheep with sound instruction, fight heresy and heterodoxy, and care for the salvation of souls.
I prefer Mundabor's (or Deacon Nick's, or Father Z's) healthy homemade fare, and thank you very much.
Dear Bishop, Deacon Nick Donnelly, of the blog “Protect the Pope”, provided many of the faithful with a sound insight into church affairs, especially into the disgraceful activities of the ACTA organisation.
Could you please tell me, therefore, why you have asked him to observe a period of prayer and reflection?
Assuring you of my prayers. Richard Collins.
It is good to know Bishops have blogs. It allows the shepherds to “get out” in the world, and “get in touch” with the sheep. To “reach out” to the “outskirts”. More “dialogue”, and “inclusion”. So very Francis.
Alas, it would appear Mr Collins’ message was culled.
Now: the Bishop’s blog is his own living room, and I do not think I can tell him, or anyone else come to that, whom he should or should not welcome in his own living room. If he thinks the question impertinent or disrespectful he will certainly cancel the message, and that’s that.
But just in order to be sure that the message was not cancelled merely because the bishop does not like Mr Collins (perhaps confusing him with the slightly more famous Phil Collins, whom he might not like as a musician), I thought it fitting to copy and paste Mr (Richard) Collins’ message and to post it in the combox of a blog post pithily named: “Entering into Lent with the Syro-Malabar Catholic and launching “The Light is ON for YOU – Reconciliation Wednesday!”).
As I write this (Tuesday evening, 10:45 pm GMT), the message is respectfully waiting in the moderation room of the Bishop; probably sitting on a comfortable, if rather old-fashioned, sofa and nervously tapping the floor with the shoe, wondering “will I be allowed to get in?”. I am sure the Bishop’s assistant offered him a coffee, though, so the wait should be bearable.
You may want to check, tomorrow afternoon (19 March) GMT, whether the message has been posted, or even answered. In this case, I would be so kind as to forward said message to Mr Collins who, I should say, is entitled to read it before me.
If no message has been posted – perfectly legitimate, I repeat it: I cancel tons of messages myself – it cannot be excluded that this has happened because the Bishop does not like me, besides Mr Collins. Shocking, I know. But again, my comment box tells me every day that perhaps – just perhaps – somewhere, someone might not like me.
In this case, I would suggest that you also post a message. I am sure Mr Collins will not be offended if you allow yourself to copy and paste it, as I did. In the end, it isn’t much longer than the title of the Bishop’s blog post, so I doubt he’ll consider it beyond “fair usage of combox” policy. If that particular blog post does not allow to leave a message, I am sure the Bishop will fully understand if you leave the message using another one. If several of you do it, I think he will be even happier about the dialogue with faithful Catholics. He chose a wordpress blog, so I can tell you the message will appear in the same line on his screen wherever you may post it, even a one-month-old post.
The question posed by Mr Collins seems very legitimate to me, who have been scratching my head for days trying to understand what special need of prayer and reflection Mr Donnolly may have had.
The Deacon seemed a thoroughly fine chap to me. Never a wrong word. Not even “faggot”, or “dyke”. Exemplary.
It has nothing to do with ACTA, surely?
Surely not, but it would be nice to know more. The bishop likes the “Tablet”, I am told, so he must have read of the blog issue there, too.
And has the bishop noticed how nice the blog is? Happily, the Deacon’s prayer time has not made any damage at all.
Dear Readers, please let me know how this one goes. It’s good to be able to communicate directly with the Bishop on occasions like this one.
Actuosa Participatio, I call it.
The matter of the “Protect the Pope” blog is making waves, and one can be confident the one or other will learn a thing or two from this.
What I have learnt (up to now) is this:
1. It is very easy to silence an ordained blogger, if he is a priest or deacon. A phone call or meeting or even a letter should be enough. The casus belli will always be easily found, as a good Catholic blog will be controversial, and someone will always complain by the bishop; and the bishop will not need anything more. He will then smugly invite the blogger in question to “enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church”.
2. It might soon become fashionable to silence an ordained blogger. True, Pope Benedict has encouraged priests and deacons to blog; but that was then, and this is … Francis. Francis is a man who has already expressed his fear that the TLM might be “divisive”. It would be very easy for him to state, when he finds the time is ripe, to say that priests and deacons should just stop blogging and spend more time in the favela, or traveling with the bus, or embracing wheelchairs, or making phone calls around, or doing all other edifying things he does. Just not blogging, because blogging is divisive, and can easily be uncharitable, and this, and that, and the other, no? At this point, cue the regular purge starting, as a great number of bishops will protect their chances of advancement by just doing what the powers that be wish that they do.
3. Things are, though, not so easy. “Protect the Pope” has never been so linked to, and Bishop Campbell (the blog’s censor) has never looked so bad. The blog is alive and kicking and it will continue to be so; it will, probably, become a beacon of, so to speak, blogging resistance. This will put the bishop in an even worse soup than he is now, then the order to the deacon to make the wife stop the blog would not look very good, or modern, or Francis-like; and very probably the blog wouldn’t stop, either.
4. Other priest bloggers have intervened: Father Z and Father Finigan make no mystery as to whether they like the Campbell soup, and Rorate Caeli predictably finds it inedible. Countless others blog, smaller taken individually but not insignificant if taken together, also deal with the issue. So let us make some calculations here: you close one blog, one hundred blogger criticise you, and they will take care you are not forgotten. As a strategy, it doesn’t seem very brilliant to me. There will always be so many blogs run by Catholic laymen, that even the suppression of all the clerical ones will have pretty much a zero effect. People go on the internet to look for information, and they shall find it. Whether from moderate priests or from less moderate laymen, it depends from the soup the clerical bloggers are made to eat.
So, as I write the 17 March the situation is as follows: the blog has never been so read, and even if it were to be silenced one day it would still be like wanting to stop the tide with a sand barrier, as we did as children at the seaside.Only, as children we knew we could not stop the tide, we just had fun trying. In this case, I have the impression there is all of the trying, but there will be none of the fun.
No. I don’t think it’s smart. Unless the bishop wants those who look for information to be more likely to land on my blog, that is.
Well, Your Excellency, what shall it be? Chicken, or chilli soup?
Deacon Nick Donnelly, the author of the very successful blog “Protect the Pope” (mentioned several times on this blog, and therefore good) has been “asked to observe a period of prayer and reflection”. In English, he has been silenced.
After the Deacon’s wife (unofficial name: “Protect the Deacon”) smartly posted that the deacon was not just, say, ill, but had been requested to be silent, the Diocese of Lancaster had to make a statement and confirm the ugly truth: yes, they asked him to be silent.
Why did they do that? Because, being Catholic, the Deacon was clearly being “uncharitable”, “untruthful” and “divisive”. At least, this is how I read the following line from the diocese’s statement (emphasis mine):
[…] it was also confirmed that the Bishop asked Deacon Nick to use this pause to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.
I can well imagine this is only the first of a long list of blogs run by ordained bloggers to be shut down par ordre du mufti. The Church of Mercy will probably have no mercy with ordained Catholic bloggers. They will be made to be silent every time that the bishop is ready to acquiesce to pressure from above, or all too willing to exert the pressure himself.
Very sad. Still, I hope the Deacons’ wife will continue to post. Even in Francis’ nuChurch, women cannot be ordained. Therefore, the bishop has no power to order her to be silent, and it can’t be ordered to the deacon that he orders to his wife that she be silent.
The role of the women, you know, and all that. Very V II.
Still, in this “protect the Pope” matter there is something very ironic.
By silencing orthodox Catholics, the bishop of Lancaster is keeping faith with the blog’s statement.
He is protecting the Pope.