Wednesday, 30 April 2014

It's not fair! (UPDATED - again)

I have already observed that, in my view, Bishop Campbell accurately identified the problems inherent in Protect the Pope in the statement that the Bishop's office has already made about the situation:
.... the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.
I would bracket the word "ordained" and suggest that the duties apply to any Catholic who blogs, particularly if they blog about Church affairs.

It has been taken for granted by all and sundry (at least as far a I can  tell) that Bishop Campbell's intervention had to do with Deacon Donnelly's criticisms of dissent in the Church, and that the blog is being silenced because of that. I do not think it had to do with that at all. It had to do with whether or not what was posted, and the "spin" given to it, was or was not true. And in at least some situations that I am aware of what was posted was not true.

I don't live in the bubble which seems to thrive on accusing the Bishops of this, that and the other. A consequence is that I do not see such an accusatory attitude as being "heroic defence of the faith". And it is this that became the problem inherent in Protect the Pope and which Bishop Campbell's statement referred to with the words "unity in the Church" - not, in my view, any concerns about the content otherwise of posts.

The Catholic Herald report - Popular blog closed down by bishop - ends quoting Deacon Donnelly:
"Maybe some of you will even consider setting up your own versions of ‘Protect the Pope’. I’d be happy to give you advice about how to go about this.”
Which leaves me thinking that there is some way to go before the real issue at stake has been understood.

I have also pondered in the last week or so the notion of "parties" (in the sense of factions) in the Church which, if I recall correctly, was something of Newman's experience of the Church of England. And I wondered whether the "faithful and loyal Catholic" of the brouhaha around Protect the Pope is not the "I am for Paul", or the "I am for Apollos", or the "I  am for Cephas" or the "I am for Christ" of the First Letter to the Corinthians. After all, the very nature of the Christian mystery, epitomised by the Sacrament of Penance, is one of failure and rising again; of a dialogue between returning to the attempt to be faithful after having failed in that faithfulness. The call to be Catholic does not need qualification by additional descriptors such as "faithful" or "loyal", the additional descriptors all to easily coming to represent a party or faction in the Church.

But why is all of this so, so unfair?

The one person who of the nature of the situation is not able to defend their position in the electronic media is Bishop Campbell.  And his action is currently the target of a significant campaign in that media. As a medium of communication, blogs (and, more so, twitter) can be profoundly asymmetrical in their impact - and this appears to me to be one of those situations. It does not appear to me that this has come about by accident.

UPDATED: The Apostle in Lancaster provides further comment that is worth considering, in the light of my post above.

UPDATED AGAIN: Bishop Campbell has issued a statement - something that I find unexpected, given the nature of the matter - which gives an account of his actions with regard to Deacon Donnelly and Protect the Pope: Bishop Campbell did not close down Protect the Pope. I would share the comment made by Mark Lambert in his post about Bishop Campbell's press release:
In fact it is clear that Bishop Michael has done his level best to handle this with diplomacy and dignity and his hand has been forced—largely by Deacon Nick—into making this statement. 


Adrian said...

A very wise and perceptive post.

Rita said...

Thank you for writing this. Had I been able to spend any time on this matter, something similar would have appeared on my blog, though not perhaps as well written.

Fr John said...

Here, here!!!