The Tablet: no dissent allowed

Damian at Holy Smoke reports that The Tablet, after launching bitter personal attacks on Fr. Finigan of The Hermeneutic of Continuity, will not publish a contrasting letter by a once favored contributor, the fine composer James MacMillan.

Since The Tablet won’t publish it, here it is:

Dear Ms Curti,

I am a Scottish Catholic composer who has on many occasions contributed articles to your magazine, The Tablet. I have always seen the journal as an important and sensible Catholic voice in the media. Nevertheless, I have been alarmed at the  drift of the paper in recent months, especially relating to matters to do with the liturgy, which is a special interest of mine. Your latest article on Fr Tim Finigan has unfortunately plumbed new depths that I thought I would never see in a Christian publication. The whole tone was disrespectful, mischief-making and opportunistic, lacking no palpable sense of Christian charity. The Tablet has a special responsibility not to allow these issues to develop into a "civil war" between Catholics. Our liturgy is in a deplorable state and, in the spirit of Vatican II, it is imperative that steps are taken to reform the reform for the good of the faithful. There is no attempt by the Pope, or Fr Finigan for that matter, to turn back the clock. The limited reappearance of the Extraordinary Rite will contribute to a renewal and blossoming in our wider liturgical education and awareness, and in the process advance the faith of Catholics starved of good practice in this regard.

The implied assaults on the character of Fr Finigan were a disgrace, and at one point, when you suggest financial impropriety, may be  actionable. I hope the good parishioners of Our Lady of the Rosary can find it in their hearts to forgive you and pray for you.

Yours sincerely,

James MacMillan CBE

The Tablet: no dissent allowed
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32 Responses to The Tablet: no dissent allowed

  1. Marko T says:

    A fine response to the attack!

  2. Ad Orientem says:

    This whole sordid affair makes one long for a more civilized age, when men were more careful about casting aspersions on one another. Such a scurrilous article would surely have resulted in an early morning encounter. Pistols for two and coffee for one.

  3. London Calling says:

    Father, given some of the characterisations that fill the blogs — including this one, and especially Damian Thompson’s — of people like Douglas Kmeic (“squishy”), Iggy O’Donovan (“what a slime”), Richard McBrien (“aging-hippe … defeatist … foolish”), it seems a bit rich to describe Elena Curti’s article as “a bitter personal attack”.

    I usually agree with your assessment of the views of McBrien, O’Donovan, Kmeic and their ilk, though I find the language and style that the blogs use, especially in the ghastly “fisks”, more than a bit off-putting. And I think Elena Curti wasted her time and her readers’ time with a pointless and silly “investigation” of Fr Finigan’s parish.

    Nonetheless you are issuing attacks that are more bitter, more personal, than anything she printed.

    Or are “bitter personal attacks” only inappropriate when you disagree with the attacker? Or perhaps “bitter personal attacks” are OK on blogs, just not in the print media?

  4. Mary Rose says:

    As someone who has recently returned to the Catholic church and fallen in love with the Extraordinary Rite, I feel torn as I watch this battle. On one hand, I fired off a blazing email to Ms. Curti and The Tablet for what they did. On the other, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit to be more charitable in this area. I truly don’t know how to act anymore.

    My heart is full of love for this precious rite, and amazed by the beauty of the rubrics. My journey into a deeper and more sacred expression of my faith could not, in my estimation, gone as far as it has in such a short time without my attending the Traditional Latin Mass.

    I am dismayed and deeply disappointed with other Catholics, especially writers, who should know better than to take potshots at the way Catholics worship. What is wrong with their Editor-in-Chief? Could not a better story be found? I agree with Fr. Z’s assessment that those who are more liberal are greatly intimidated by the growing popularity of this rite. Things seem to be changing and it is toward the direction of rebuilding our Catholic identity. The expiration date for “anything goes” is up.

    Meanwhile, I will try to express myself more charitably and keep The Tablet and its contributors in prayer.

  5. Diane says:

    Excellent letter. I hope the Tablet does the right thing and prints it.

    This was spot on:

    The whole tone was disrespectful, mischief-making and opportunistic, lacking no palpable sense of Christian charity. The Tablet has a special responsibility not to allow these issues to develop into a “civil war” between Catholics.

    Mischief-making is an understatement and goes directly to concupiscence.

    The comment also brouht to mind what our Holy Father, Pope Benedict just said about the destructive nature of polemics in the Church.

  6. Tomas says:

    I wish I understood what the liberals are so afraid of that they have to resort to these despicable tactics, worldly tactics. Are they afraid of the Church being restored to health after 40 years of post-Conciliar chaos and mass exodus? Are they afraid they will have to stop being worldly and amend their lives? Are they afraid they will lose the respect of the world? Are they afraid they will have to work harder? Act like clergy instead of pagans or PC ecumaniacs? Lose their influence?

    Everything I read indicates that the Church was flourishing during the 50s and early 60s, yet She somehow managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Apparently the liberals do not want the Church to flourish again, so what are the benefits to them of not flourishing?

  7. AReader says:

    We, as members of a Church, have been asked to report abuse to the Bishop (archbishop) of the diocese (archdiocese) in which we reside. It has been my experience that when I question the actions at Liturgy, do the research and then finally mention the repetetive abuse to the priest then the bishop(archbishop) nothing is done. I have yet to hear of an instance that an abuse had been corrected. In this case a possible misuse of a word can cause question. But is there any evidence of following up to correct the misuse ? At one time I had exchanged letters with the diocesian office of divine worship and I was told they are only an instructional body and do not follow up on reported abuses. (!)
    My point is this — the people of the Church want to do the right thing, yet some of those in the know who are aware of the rubrics take liberties and lisence that cause confusion and scandal. Its frustrating when the laity have the respect for what the clery has “put in writting” yet the clergy find exception to do it.

  8. Nigel says:

    Uh, this was not “spot-on”:

    lacking no palpable sense of Christian charity

    should be

    lacking ANY palpable sense of Christian charity

  9. jacques says:

    I don’t like too much the words “spirit of VATII”. They are overused and not for the best (peculiarly by the liberal/progrssivists)

  10. RBrown says:

    The whole tone was disrespectful, mischief-making and opportunistic, lacking no palpable sense of Christian charity. The Tablet has a special responsibility not to allow these issues to develop into a “civil war” between Catholics. Our liturgy is in a deplorable state and, in the spirit of Vatican II, it is imperative that steps are taken to reform the reform for the good of the faithful.

    Could it be that the Tablet is being . . . divisive?

  11. RBrown says:

    I don’t mind the phrase “Spirit of Vat II” as long as it doesn’t indicate using Gaudium et Spes as a hermeneutic for the other Conciliar documents (cf JRatzinger).

    Unfortunately, for the past 30+ years “Spirit of Vat II” usually seems to indicate a strategy that opposed the actual documents of Vat II and the doctrine of the Church.

  12. AlephGamma says:

    The magisterium of the left – the press, in this case The Tablet – does not like the plank in their eye. I know it’s a form of ‘tu quoque’ but the wiki-war is an example of how controversies are judged and removed (ala 1984 ‘we were always at war with East_Asia’) by viewing the Tablet’s wiki history tab. But The Catholic Herald (Damian’s publication) is not ‘protected’ from controversies. Talk amongst yourselves, un-verklempt of course.

  13. LeonG says:

    I stopped taking Tablets a long time ago.

  14. Vincent says:

    I’m not too familiar with the history of the Tablet, being an American, so I wonder whether it is true that the publication has only in recent months begun to tend leftward. Is this the case? Did the publication used to be balanced in its approach?

  15. Nancy Roberts says:

    Mary Rose, I agree so wholeheartedly with what you said. Following VII, I was so heartbroken by what I saw happening in my local parish I just slunk away (yes, I’m a coward, and didn’t stay and fight the good fight). Finding a TLM (and a very traditional parish) again after many years, I finally felt as though I had a home again.

    What puzzles me about the vehemence of the anti-TLM reaction with some people is: how could a liturgy, and an approach to Catholicism that includes weekly Benediction, frequent Confession, regular small penances (like fasting, or abstinence), devotions like family Rosaries,and so on – how could this way of being Catholic, which helped form so many Saints be a bad thing??

  16. PMcGrath says:

    Nancy Roberts: “how could a liturgy, and an approach to Catholicism that includes weekly Benediction, frequent Confession, regular small penances (like fasting, or abstinence), devotions like family Rosaries,and so on – how could this way of being Catholic, which helped form so many Saints be a bad thing??

    Because, to the Bitter Pill editors, wreckovators, liturgical dancers, and tabernacle hiders, Tradition, as such, IS The Bad Thing. It represents everything that they’re against. Why else would they want to purge every last scrap of it from the life of the Church?

  17. Angels Stole my Phonebox says:

    Vincent. No..

  18. TJM says:

    Question for my British friends here. Will the appointment of a new Archbishop of Westminster have any affect on the “editorial tone” of
    the Tablet? Tom

  19. London Calling says:

    Tom: Question for my British friends here. Will the appointment of a new Archbishop of Westminster have any affect on the “editorial tone” of the Tablet?

    Highly unlikely, Tom, because The Tablet is run by an company with an independent board of directors. I don’t think it is dependent on the archdiocese for funding or other support. The Archbishop has influence, of course, but as far as I know no formal control.

    The “progressivist” or “lefty” character of The Tablet is grossly overstated in the blogs. Articles like this one are not that uncommon. The last paragraph is especially worth reading. Keep in mind that this was published in 2005, a few years before Summorum Pontificum, and that the author is Dr Alcuin Reid.

    My parish newspaper stand offers both The Tablet and The Catholic Herald; one is more “left”, one more “right”, but there is an enormous amount of common editorial ground. I benefit from reading both.

  20. RichR says:

    online petition to Tablet to give formal apology to Fr. Finigan:

    http://www.petitiononline.com/tabletap/

  21. TJM says:

    London Calling, thanks for the information. Tom

  22. Member of the Church Militant says:

    Does the Tablet also promote or give a voice to, even a little, Catholics for Free Choice, Womyn “priests”, homosexual unions, contraception, etc? Just curious because even a little evil mixed with truth poisons the well.

  23. Tomas says:

    Member of the CM: excellent question. If the door is open even a crack, that is entirely too much.

  24. RBrown says:

    Nancy Roberts: “how could a liturgy, and an approach to Catholicism that includes weekly Benediction, frequent Confession, regular small penances (like fasting, or abstinence), devotions like family Rosaries,and so on – how could this way of being Catholic, which helped form so many Saints be a bad thing??

    Because, to the Bitter Pill editors, wreckovators, liturgical dancers, and tabernacle hiders, Tradition, as such, IS The Bad Thing. It represents everything that they’re against. Why else would they want to purge every last scrap of it from the life of the Church?
    Comment by PMcGrath

    Usually, contemporary liberalism makes getting-along-with-people is the foundation of their ideology. And so anything that distinguishes Catholics from Protestants and/or the secular culture makes them nervous.

    It’s a type of Pelagianism–Conservatives have their own version.

  25. Mary Rose says:

    Usually, contemporary liberalism makes getting-along-with-people is the foundation of their ideology. And so anything that distinguishes Catholics from Protestants and/or the secular culture makes them nervous.

    RBrown, you presented a perspective I never considered. I think it has merit. In the spirit of ecumenicalism, I think many Catholics tipped so far over that they became irrelevant in their Catholicism – which seemed to suit them just fine. In their haste to throw out their rosaries and the tabernacle; it would seem they also threw out their opportunities for special graces. Pelagianism sounds like a fancy word for atheism. ;-)

    I can’t tell you how proud I am to be a Catholic right now. In fact, I’m tempted to get a t-shirt that says:

    Audaciter Catholicam
    Adamo Latin

    (Not sure if it’s entirely correct but: Boldly Catholic, Lover of Latin)

    Nancy Roberts, thank you. I totally agree with you. Anything that helped a saint become a saint has to be good, right? Unless people at The Tablet don’t believe in saints.

  26. shadrach says:

    London Calling is correct. Frankly, the lack of focus of some of the responses to the heinous article by Curti, is worrying. We will convert many to our position, if we are attractive in the manner that we present it. Let the Liturgy, our charity and our good-humouredness make the argument for us. ‘The Tablet’ is less the bogeyman that it is being painted by those who append comments in the blogosphere. It has lost its Catholic rudder and the current editorial crew, bar one or two, aren’t clued into the hermeneutic of continuity at all. Blame for the article and the subsequent treatment of correspondence relating to it must be laid at the door of the editor Catherine Pepinster. Her career would seem to indicate that she regards being editor of a Catholic magazine primarily as a chance for journalistic promotion. Unlike John Wilkins, her personal investment in ‘The Tablet’ and its Catholic identity (even its soi-disant ‘liberal’ Catholic identity), it could be argued, appears to be secondary to its reception among a milieu of London journalists, editors and maybe future employers. The article passed over her desk and she must have agreed its publication. Furthermore, it should be stressed there is no connection between the Abp of Westminster (who, although no great advocate of the TLM, does not deserve the demonization which is often meted out to him in the blogosphere) and ‘The Tablet’ editorial line.

  27. chironomo says:

    London Calling;

    There is a big difference between a “personal attack” on a figure such as Fr. Finnegan – consisiting of an attack on his motives without really knowing anything about such things, and an attack on a person’s positions and teachings, such as frequerntly happens here with Fr. McBrien. Fr. Finnegan’s actions and beliefs are those of the Holy Father and of the Catholic Church. To criticize them is to criticize the Church herself. To criticize Fr. McBrien’s views is to criticize dissent and corrupted teachings. There is a big difference, and to try and pass them off as equivalent is itself a “bit rich” as you might say….

  28. shadrach says:

    Just to clarify. I agree with London Calling in his/her characterization of “The Tablet’. The tone of attacks against McBrien et al I think stems from the long dominance they had in pre-electronic media, specifically in the 80s and 90s, on Catholic topics; a dominance that did great damage. The fact that Iggy O’Donovan is still saying a mass in Drogheda is a mystery to me. Clemency is only an act of love if it is educates people in the truth, and Iggy appears to have acquired a ‘Brisbane’ strain of megalomania masquerading as ‘humility’ and ‘let’s-just-all-get-alongness’. That is vile.

  29. Angels Stole my Phonebox says:

    As a Brit, I have never known the Tablet to be anything other than a nasty pseudo-intellectual lefty rag. Though I am under 40 therefore it may have been orthodox before that lol.

  30. therese b says:

    Whenever I hear about the “Spirit of Vatican 2″ I am seized with a strong desire to ring Fr Amorth to come and exorcise it.

    Have just returned from Blackfen EF Mass, having received a generous dose of ashes from His Hermeneuticalness, and where attendance was very healthy indeed; choir was in tune, and sermon intelligent.

    That was my Mass.

  31. TerryC says:

    Of course by refusing to publish this letter they assured that it would be posted on many sites across the Internet, also assuring it would be read by many more people than would ever pick up the Bitter Pill.
    They no doubt hope it will all go away before their obvious hatchet job garners it’s own coverage in the mainstream secular media.

  32. Gedsmk says:

    The Tablet has deteriorated alarmingly since John Wilkins retired. He was much more even-handed and sensible. Would never have dreamt of publishing the anti-Blackfen and anti-Heythrop stuff that crops up nowadays. However, they have every right not to publish letters just as blogs have every right to delete posts.