Once upon a time, a man learned that the Holy See has stepped up its concern about the rise of Satanism and has stressed that all dioceses should have an appointed exorcist. The man, whose interest was peaked, sent an email note to all the dioceses far and wide across the land actually having an email contact address – not all did, it seems – asking whether or not those dioceses had appointed exorcists. Of the 21 dioceses he querried, 2 replied. Of those 2 one refused to answer. And it is the message sent with that refusal which is the object of my puzzlement.
Here now are some of the details.
The person who did the writing with the question is Richard Collins who has the blog Linen on the Hedgerow.
The diocesan official who wrote with a refusal to Mr. Collins is Fr Derek Turnham of Stokesley, North Yorkshire, which is the Diocese of Middlesbrough. Fr. Turnham is a communications officer for the diocese.
This is what Fr. Turnham wrote to Mr. Collins:
Thank you very much for kindly responding with the information about your research.
I am afraid that for personal ethical reasons I am not prepared to co-operate – I believe that blogging as currently manifested should be made a serious criminal office because of the significantly negative comments that are so often made about people who are trying to do their best are so destructive to the good of society.
I noticed that the website of Fr. Turnham’s diocese, Middlesbrough, is actually in a blog format. CAFOD is the largest word in their tag cloud.
Okay. I think we can all stipulate that some people using the Catholic blogosphere, for whatever reason – excess of zeal, perhaps, old scars, mischievousness, Asperger’s syndrome, rarely malice – write things which are better left unwritten. But in the main the Catholic use of the blogosphere is quite fruitful. Bloggers have responded well to the Church’s call to use better the new tools of social communication and they are getting better and better as they live and learn.
But Fr. Turnham seems to have some animus for bloggers. Fr. Turnham, a former Anglican married Catholic priest, has been willing to speak to the BBC. He wasn’t so reticent with The Tablet back in 1997. So it is not as if Fr. Turnham doesn’t like to communicate. Right? On the other hand, maybe he doesn’t like the fact that blogs sometimes bring to light things people ought to know about.
What it is that Fr. Turnham finds so objectionable about blogs and bloggers that he would send such a hysterical answer to a layman who asked a reasonable question?
Perhaps the answer lies with Fr. Turnham’s desire for attention?
After all, he wrote that obnoxious and rather benighted response about blogging to a blogger. Fr. Turnham, who probably knows something about communications – given that he is an official handing these matters for his diocese – must have known that his rude answer would be disseminated in the blogosphere. Pretty obvious, right?
I can only conclude that Fr. Turnham wanted some attention.
And now he has some!