I have come late to the spat that has been taking place between Salt and Light Catholic TV Network and others in relation to the funeral of Senator Edward Kennedy. If I have understood the situation correctly, Salt and Light were approached by Lifesite News (and perhaps others) to join a lobby/campaign to stop Cardinal O'Malley's participation in the funeral and Cardinal McCarrick's participation in the interment. When they did not join in such a campaign, heated exchanges (well, very heated exchanges) followed through e-mail and blog posts.
The original texts are, so far as I can see, these:
Fr Thomas Rosica's strongly worded post of 3rd September, which reproduces the text of Cardinal O'Malley's own blog post. Fr Rosica is the Chief Executive of Salt and Light Catholic TV.
Lifesite News commentary of 4th September responding to Fr Rosica's post.
A radio interview by Fr Rosica, broadcast on 9th September. The transcript is here, posted on 15th September.
A Lifesite News editorial of 14th September, responding to Fr Rosica's Sirius interview.
A Lifesite News editorial of 17th September, responding to Fr Rosica's contributions.
1. Lifesite News
Quite some time ago now, I had reason to read a Lifesite News report in looking up a story. I found a problem then that I have found with every attempt since to use a Lifesite News report. That problem is one of being able to distinguish the hard news content of the report from the spin or emphasis being added to the hard news content. It makes Lifesite News unusable as a reliable source of news reporting - you always have to go and find another report of the same story elsewhere in order to check that you really know what is going on. This is why I do not link to Lifesite News, and why I would only very cautiously base a post on a report from Lifesite News.
What purpose is, then, served by Lifesite News reports? There is, of course, some purpose served in providing news, or at least giving a head up on a story. And there is probably also some political value in terms of indicating a clear opposition to those who support abortion. But, as with most public voice politics, is the essential audience Lifesite News' own supporters? Is it most effective in building its own standing with its own supporters? I make this as a morally neutral observation - the building of status with your own constituency is a perfectly legitimate part of the process of politics and is the ordinary bread and butter of seeking election to office. But issue politics, as opposed to party politics or the politics of electoral office, needs to be successful in influencing those outside your own constituency - and my question is about how far Lifesite News can do this or, indeed, if they want to do this.
Fr Rosica has posted an account of a meeting he had with young people on 10th September, in the context of this controversy, which provides a good example of what I am trying to say is needed here.
2. Internet lobbying
I have posted previously (I'll insert the link to that post when I find it!) about using blogs to encourage others to e-mail or protest to people. Even if the resulting communications are courteous and considered, there is still a point at which this becomes a form of cyber-bullying. It is a modus operandi which takes advantage of the ease of electronic communication to get people to lobby over something in which they may not have a direct stake. A much more appropriate way of doing things seems to me to be one which encourages others to post on their own blogs their views about an issue.
The following, at the bottom of Lifesite News editorial of 14th September, is, in my view, quite out of order, despite that word "respectfully":
To RESPECTFULLY contact Fr. Rosica: email@example.com
To say that the kind of spat between parties who should be allies which has occurred here is the work of the devil isn't to blame either of the parties as if they were directly undertaking the work of the devil. Somewhere in it all we might accept that the devil has worked his mischief and that the parties involved might need to keep their eyes open to try and see where this mischief is present.
But, that having been said, this blog is declaring on the side of Fr Rosica on this one, and a link to Salt and Light TV Network can now be found on the links list.