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Saturday, 18 April 2009

Blogging news for Low Week

Last year, as is fairly well-known, the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, at their Low Week meeting, discussed the phenomenon of Catholic blogging. Since then, the Tablet newspaper launched an attack on my parish because one of our four weekend precept Masses and one of our six weekday Masses is said in the extraordinary form. From the vast correspondence sent to me, much of it including copies of perfectly well-balanced and reasonable letters sent to the editor of the Tablet (and not published), I hazard a guess that the subsequent correspondence published on the letters page was far from a fair reflection of the correspondence received.

Be that as it may, the Catholic blogosphere responded with great generosity, enabling me to pay for our new rose vestments in full with some money left over to save up for some silver candlesticks for our Lady altar.

A further consequence of this debacle was that bloggers around the world were left in little doubt about the character of the Tablet. Whereas many people before had rather ignored it as a possibly slightly highbrow English weekly, they now took a closer look and realised, from various articles and snippets that were published and fisked around the web, that it is the English voice of dissent from Rome; dissent that began with a conscious editorial decision at the time of the publication of Humanae Vitae in 1968 and has continued ever since.

Almost overnight, the Tablet's position as a leading opinion former was compromised by the democratic and rather scary freedom of ordinary Catholics to write on the internet without editorial censorship. It is no surprise, then, that the Tablet has chosen to launch a blanket attack on Catholic blogging during the two weeks leading up to the Low Week meeting. After all, it would be very much in their interests if the Bishops were to go along with the idea that blogs are rather bad and dangerous.

Last week, the "Letter from Rome" questioned how "ordained ministers" have time to "feed a blog" rather than visit the housebound or those in hospital or prison. It is amusing that the use of the liberal Catholic cipher "ordained ministers" (as opposed to "priests" or "clergy") raises the question about "lay ministers". In the spirit of collaborative ministry, should blogging lay ministers not also be using the wee small hours to visit the housebound? Come to that, what was St Thomas Aquinas doing, spending his time writing about essence and existence? The thirteenth century was a period of global warming - surely the Angelic Doctor should have been devoting his energies to saving the planet?

This week, the editorial "Voices from the Lower Depths" is a broadside against blogging generally. Ostensibly tut-tutting about the role of blogs in the McBride scandal, the Tablet could not resist lashing out against Catholic bloggers: "often right-wing, polemical and vituperative". Worst of all, as the leader bemoans, their targets "often seem to include the Tablet."

When you have picked yourself up from the floor and dried your eyes, you might take the opportunity to post one or other of the following in the combox here or on your own blog:
  • a polite explanation of why the Tablet should not be sold in our Cathedrals or parish Churches (with examples and quotations)
  • an account of the work done by Catholic blogs in supporting Pope Benedict (with links)
  • a list of the ways that Catholic blogs have helped ordinary Catholics to grow in their faith (with links or personal testimonies)
This is actually meant seriously. Not all Bishops are familiar with blogs and it would be a pity if they were left unaware of the great good that many Catholics do, in their spare time, for the love of God, by writing on various subjects at various levels, to help others know more about Our Lord and about the Catholic faith. To dismiss all these good people as polemical and vituperative is lazy journalism and unhelpful in the discussion which Pope Benedict has engaged in regarding the new media.

OTHER COMMENTS:
Holy Smoke: The Tablet hits out at Right-wing bloggers 'from the lower depths'
"The most revealing detail of all, however, is that the Tablet has to explain to its readers what the word blog means"

The Sensible Bond: The Tablet's world of evil Catholic blogdom
"Wait a minute, Tablet, what on earth are you saying about the community of British Catholic blogs on the net?"

That the bones you have crushed may thrill: In Defence of Priestly Bloggers
"The Tablet would rather that the 'liberal' voice was the only voice heard, and that the 'voices crying out in the wilderness' were banished into exile forever."

Mulier Fortis: The Latest Stupid Comment From The Suppository... and The Suppository's Attempts At Comedy...
"The only "conspiracy with the bishops" is the one which allows The Suppository to call itself a Catholic publication despite consistently attacking the Holy Father and continuing to dissent from Catholic teaching in matters regarding marriage, sexuality and contraception (among other things) without being called to account by those Bishops"

Catholic Mom of 10 Journey: "Losing the Plot!" In Defence of Priestly Bloggers
"Do all bloggers need a psychiatrist? Well I'm ahead of the game already having one! Do all editors need one too? Do editors of the Tablet need one? What do you think?"

Anglican Samizdat: The right-wing blog conspiracy
"It’s rather quaint observing an establishment antediluvian attempt to explain the dangers of a burgeoning technological trend"

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