I picked this up from the blog of my friend Fr. Raymond Blake (whom I hope to see, perhaps in February). I think it is worth some attention in the Catholic blogosphere.
I thought you might be interested to know that attempts are being made to shut up a certain Catholic journalist; no it is no-one on the dreadful Tablet, not even the ghastly sneering Bobby Mickens.Apparently the Cardinal, [His Eminence the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster no doubt] and maybe others, the Papal Nuncio‘s name has mentioned, has made representations to the owner and chairman of the Catholic Herald and the editors of two national newspapers. They want the scalp of Damien Thompson, or at least they want his fingers broken so he can’t criticise the hierarchy, Eccleston Square, inaction on the Motu Proprio, Church bureaucracy, or make suggestions on Cormac’s successor, or criticise the dreadful Tablet.Damien Thompson, once described as "a blood crazed ferret" by the Church Times, is a commentator on the Daily Telegraph, and Editor-in-Chief on the Catholic Herald, Thompson. He can be outrageous at times, but that in a healthy society, or Church, should be function of a journalist.I find it truly worrying if senior clergy are trying to silence the press – not of course The Tablet, that is beyond censure by the hierarchy.
I have a couple view on this.
First, I think that over time market forces will take care of most of the stupid or wicked Catholic commentary. I believe in sort of a reverse Gresham’s Law when it comes to information on the internet: good information will eventually drive bad information out of circulation. A correlation of this law is that "people are smart". This last point is the one most frequently violated by liberals, who are far more likely to desire that only one side of an issue have a free voice.
Second, prelates may have a role in "silencing" some Catholic commentators. However, that would pertain when the commentators were falling into error about issues of faith and morals or creating confusion about the Church’s proper discipline, etc. For example, I think that it would not be out of the question for the Catholic hierarchy to exercise their office of oversight in regard some dimensions of the National Catholic Reporter. I believe something was done in relation to the former editor of America. It is difficult to balance all the elements in this. However, I think I must come down on the side of freedom to comment and then depend on those "market forces" to sort things out.
I have as working paradigms in this issue the interesting exchanges between, for example, Umberto Eco and Card. Martini, or the press exchange years ago between Cardinals Ratzinger and Kasper. I also am taking into consideration the way Pope Benedict opened himself to commentary and criticism in the preface of his book Jesus of Nazareth.