US Bishops: Bloggers play ‘critical role’ in defending Church. Fr. Z makes a proposal.

When the Obama Administration began to attack the 1st Amendment, Catholic bloggers rose up.

When the U.S. Bishops called for rallies for religious freedom, Catholic bloggers posted links and dates and places.

When the USCCB and Card. Dolan and Bp. Lori made statements or gave interviews, Catholic bloggers spread the word.

Catholic bloggers are to the establishment and the dissident Catholic media what talk radio and cable are to the old time news and entertainment establishment.

The great majority of Catholic bloggers would (and perhaps might have to) go to the wall for the Catholic bishops in a good cause and with good leadership.

From Life News:

US Bishops: Bloggers play ‘critical role’ in defending the Church

Relations between Catholic bloggers and Church officials have at times been quite strained as the new media has developed in the last couple years. Some prelates, clergy, and chancery officials have expressed strong reservations about the Catholic blogosphere, with some even speaking quite derogatorily. [Is that a fact?  I am willing to let bygones be bygones.]

Church leaders have been angered by the penchant of many bloggers to call them out on their failures to expound and defend controversial Catholic teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion.

The difficulties got to the point that last year the Vatican convened a special conference for bloggersto try to build bridges and learn more about this new method for advancing the Gospel.

But now even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is saying Catholic bloggers have a “critical role” in defending the Church.

In a new statement on religious freedom released today they write:

The Catholic Church in America is blessed with an immense number of writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers, and bloggers employing all the means of communications—both old and new media—to expound and teach the faith. They too have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. [NB:]We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom.

For a PDF of the bishops’ statement click HERE.

Okay, let’s double-down.

I, in turn, call upon the U.S. Bishops to do what the Holy See did: host a conference… call a meeting with bloggers.

I ask fellow Catholic bloggers to pick up and renew this proposal on their own blogs.  Propose that the bishops organize a blogger summit, a blogger confab, a blogger powwow, a blognic on steroids.

Do they mean it, or not?  Are Catholic bloggers valued, or not?  Are these just words?  Vapor?

Your Excellencies…

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; gather the people. (Joel 2:15)


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kent says:

    It would be interesting to know how the bishops come to these decisions. Is a simple majority vote? Are there abstentions? Who votes for or against? Did a committee present this idea? Whose on the committee? I can’t help but feel that there are many in the USCCB who don’t necessarily feel that Catholic bloggers are a merit to the Church. [Now, turn the sock inside out and think about why I posted this.]

  2. Scott W. says:

    I’d prefer it if the Catholic blogosphere kept its status as a sort of Outliers for Orthodoxy. If we start getting too cozy we become tools. [Right. That’s going to happen.] To wit: Deeds not words. When bishops discipline their flocks with measures with real teeth in them, they will be cheered on. When they go into their usual confrontation-phobic PR nonsense, they feel their feet in the fire.

  3. Charivari Rob says:

    “Some prelates, clergy, and chancery officials have expressed strong reservations about the Catholic blogosphere, with some even speaking quite derogatorily.”

    Was that some prelates, clergy, and chancery officials speaking quite derogatorily of bloggers – or some bloggers speaking of prelates, clergy, etc..?

    “Church leaders have been angered by the penchant of many bloggers to call them out on their failures to expound and defend controversial Catholic teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion.”

    …or by the penchant of some bloggers (present host excepted, fortunately) to call them out on their failure to act in accord with whatever the blogger’s particular ax to grind is, no matter whether things actually work that way or not – like Why won’t the bishop put a full-page ad in the local papers that so-and-so is going to Hell?

    [Thanks for your unqualified support. BTW… which is your blog?]

  4. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    First, I would like to second this proposal, Father Z. I think it’s a grand idea.

    I know I’ll get raked over the coals by some in this thread, and that’s ok, but I think the bishops have much to learn from bloggers, despite our imperfections; and, I think bloggers can learn much from bishops despite their imperfections. We are all wounded in various ways from the effects of Original Sin. I think there is a value in bishops and bloggers building bridges in a way that is mutually beneficial. I, as a Catholic blogger, don’t feel threatened by that relationship and how it may affect my blogging. At the end of each and every day I have to reconcile my conscience with every word I have written and every omission I have made, regardless of any relationship with the bishops.

    God will bless the work of bloggers when they practice the virtues in blogging. We spend so much time on the outrage of the day that we don’t study the virtues. We have to look to the saints. I think we miss this mark when we fall into voicing our concerns in a condescending and disrespectful way. The complaints bishops have, I believe, have more to do with the way problems are communicated by people, than the fact that the problems are communicated. There are always exceptions, and some bishops will never be comfortable with hearing about our disappointments, even when we are right. That’s when it’s time to pray for them, and perhaps write a letter to Rome, and then put the whole thing on God’s shoulders, because with Him, nothing is impossible and some things can only be resolved with prayer and fasting.

    I also don’t think it is helpful to broad brush, “the bishops” in a bad light, and project the reticence of some onto the backs of them all. Some bishops are speaking up. Many of these newer bishops are not responsible for what took place the last 50 years; they have suffered too and now have to deal with the aftermath. When a new coach takes over a team, it’s ok to talk about things that didn’t go well under prior leadership; but, it’s even better to focus on the here and now, looking forward, rather than staring daily into the rearview mirror.

  5. Linus says:

    True, the bloggers can do a lot of good. But I’ll tell you who absolutely must do more than they have in the past and that is our parish priests. [But that is not the topic here.] Quite frankly, in my parish at least, they are absolutely missing on these issues. They did read the Bishop’s letter. Outside of that – total silence -and forget preaching the hard facts about the ” delicate ” moral issues. I don’t know what is happening in other parishes and that would be hear say anyway. [Rabbit hole alert!]

  6. Fr. Erik Richtsteig says:

    I can explain some so of that reluctance. The facts is than in far too many of our dioceses, priests who are vocal and active in promoting the Church’s teachings, especially on the ‘hard and sensitive’ issues receive no support from the chancery. Further, they are actively persecuted. It can cause a priest to pause if he knows that a likely consequence will be a call from the chancery that says something like, “Father, what did you say? We have been getting phone calls and letters.” Do this enough and you are labeled as a troublemaker. Add to this the fact that many seminaries have formed men into an attitude of “step into line and don’t rock the boat no matter what”. Many of us have genuine doubts as to whether our bishops, and even our brother priests, will back us up or throw us to the wolves.

  7. Fr. Tim Moyle says:

    If I can throw in a remark from the northern half of the continent, I believe such conference would be a great idea… but why be limited by national boundaries? Our economies and cultures are so enmeshed that it’s impossible to know where one starts and the other finishes. If the goal is to promote Catholic teaching, would it not benefit both countries if we all share best practices and forge and strengthen the connections that unite us as North American Catholics?

    Fr. Tim Moyle, Diocese of Pembroke
    ‘Where the Rubber Hits the Road’

  8. esiul says:

    I’m not much of a blogger, and the bishops certainly can use our help.
    I do agree with Linus, the “quietness is deafening”. I am sure Fr. Richtsteig knows too well.
    Without support from all of us on these issues they will remain more and more silent.
    These are the ones that are in my prayers all the time. Please continue to do as much as you possibly can. Thank you.

  9. Fr. Tim Moyle says:

    good grief! I misspelled my own URL!

  10. RichardC says:

    I agree that it is important to let by-gones be by-gones. I wonder about this meeting though. Father Z. has a clear vision of what his blog is about, what the forces attacking the Church are all about, what the key dates and links are, etc. If a blogger has read the Catechism, doesn’t go against the Catechism, and has a vision, then what is the point of a meetin? [Which is your blog?]

  11. Pingback: Bloggers Play ‘Critical Role’ in Defending the Church | Fr Stephen Smuts

  12. Supertradmum says:

    An international conference, please, as the Church is universal and experiencing the same trials worldwide…. [Since the US Bishops made the statement, let the US Bishops sponsor some meeting. Whom they invite is their business.]

    Thanks, Father Z, for this. We have much more freedom of speech than most newspapers, magazines, etc. and the youth read blogs and not print…

  13. Pingback: Dear Bishops: Let’s Start Anew

  14. Pingback: Father Z calls for Bishops to meet bloggers | Foolishness to the world

  15. Scott W. says:

    It can cause a priest to pause if he knows that a likely consequence will be a call from the chancery that says something like, “Father, what did you say? We have been getting phone calls and letters.”

    Seems that that makes a good case for priests posting their homilies online like Fr. Philip and others do. That way, no one can distort what you said and if somebody still makes a fuss about orthodoxy from the pulpit, the public record will show it for the baloney that it is.

  16. Scott W. says:

    like Why won’t the bishop put a full-page ad in the local papers that so-and-so is going to Hell?

    That’s a pretty outrageous example. Got a source?

  17. frjim4321 says:

    I admire anyone with the discipline to maintain a blog.

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  19. BethJanMarie says:

    Catholic bloggers are bloggers with Holy Boldness!

  20. JARay says:

    I am one who does not have his own blog. Maybe I lack the wit or the fortitude to maintain one. I do however have quite a list of Catholic blogs and even some non-Catholic ones. I do make comments on them from time to time and I have felt that in this way I have been able to make positive contributions to the various topics which pop up. As I type this I am just hearing on the radio, that here in Western Australia, a contract for a new hospital has been granted to the St. John of God hospital chain which, as the name suggests, is a Catholic chain of hospitals. The news item was from one member of the State opposition objecting to the granting of the contract to them…..guess why!!!
    Yes, it’s because these Catholic hospitals refuse to carry out certain “proceedures” and this man wants the contract to be cancelled because of this Catholic stance. So now I am able to spread to the world wide public that Catholics here face a similar kind of opposition that Catholics are facing in America and elsewhere.

  21. JARay says:

    May I add that whenever these politicians are in need of hospital treatment one can guarantee that the hospital which they choose to obtain that treatment in, is, almost invariably, one of the the St. John of God chain!

  22. rodin says:

    The conference idea sounds good, but when it comes to calling a conference that would educate our leadership as well as our membership might it not be reasonable for Bishops to do parish visitations, not at mass, wherein the Bishops could explain Church doctrine in such current matters as contraception, abortion, and receiving the Holy Eucharist when blatantly opposing Church doctrine, where attendees could ask questions and/or express opinions? Our then Bishop did that at the time the abusive priest issue broke.

    Of course, one can always send a letter to the Bishop, but not many people do that. Consequently at least one person in this Diocese addressed a letter recently to the editor of the local paper that was headlined “The Bishops Do Not Speak for Me!” The Bishops speak for the Church, not for her, but obviously her intention was to proclaim the Church to be in error. Instead she proclaimed her own ignorance and that might be corrected by such conferences.

    One could say it is the pastor’s job to do such catechizing. However, if the Bishop does it there will be no need for phone calls and letters to the chancery. It might also be useful for Bishops to learn just how strongly most Catholics feel about aberrant kathlicks and perhaps they would be more willing to emulate such leaders as Cardinal Burke, Bishop Finn, Bishop Neinstadt, Bishop Chaput and others.

    [So, I take it that you support the idea of a bloggers’ summit sponsored by the bishops.]

  23. adcola says:

    Father Z,
    At an opportune break-out session, please suggest some 4G way for blogospheric content to be tagged and submitted for an imprimatur.

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    Where the bishops are, there is the Church. They are called to be our teachers and fathers, and I like it when they show it. I support our bishops as they lead from the front.

  25. Mrs. O says:

    Well, if they call us all in and line us up against the wall and shoot us with, I don’t know, a new canon law about Catholic Bloggers, what we can/can not post, I am going to take this as sarcasm.
    BUT, in the mean time, I will keep doing what I do with or without their support. It is nice to be mentioned, I think. :\

  26. rodin says:

    Bloggers summit, yes. Parish visitation, yes. Greater interaction, yes.

  27. catholicmidwest says:

    Don’t forget Twitter and Facebook. The statements of the bishops and the addresses of that protest rippled across Twitter and Facebook almost instantaneously. They’re both very powerful ways to get a message across quickly and accurately.

  28. catholicmidwest says:

    It is the laity’s job to bring the Gospel to the world. You can’t lay back and expect the clergy to do everything for you. That’s not their vocation. It’s YOURS.

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  30. Kate says:

    I have been wondering about this very issue. I have found some very good blogs that offer practical insight, but if they are not theologically accurate they are a waste and misleading. I started one because I was fed up with loud mouth liberals and I wanted to get my piece in. Before I started I emailed Simcha Fisher and asked for advice.

  31. mumstheword says:

    The idea sounds good in theory but I have doubts about the reality. I have followed the orthodox Catholic blogs for several years now (my first list gathered from this blog Fr. Z). It seems our bishops lean more towards the temporal world than the spiritual and this mindset would need to change. They would need to remember they are shepherds and not politicos. They would need to once again become humble servants to the laity and throw off the cloak of mighty masters over us. [Quite a judgement of bishops.]

  32. RichardC says:

    @ Father Z. (and anyone else who wants to read this):

    I don’t have a blog. Someone has to read the Catholic blog writers and post comments in their comment boxes. There could be a conference between Catholic bishops and Catholic comment box commenters, preferably in Miami, but I kid. I do not see the goal of a meeting between Catholic bishops and Catholic blog writers. The blog writers who got invited to such a conference would suddenly have a special status among Catholic blog writers. Worthy, uninvited, blog writers would be crestfallen. I like the idea in some other Catholic comment box author’s comment that bishops visit their churchs, not during Mass, to teach and encourage and let us know that they exist.

  33. mrsmontoya says:

    I am in favor of the conference, thinking that it is a focussed goal that can gain enough support that it actually has a chance of occurring. Make it open-invitation. There are a few Bishops blogging, let’s get their support!

    And God’s blessing on all you bloggers who have the gift of blogging.

  34. RichardC says:

    I like this idea best of all: the bishop visiting one of his parishes one night a week, praying the rosary with his people, then teaching a little, encouraging a little–and thereby reminding us all of why we exist.

  35. Scott W. says:

    I seem to remember a list of advice for new bishops and one of the items was to sneak into a parish incognito, and if he catches any priest doing his daily office prayer, make him a monsignor on the spot.

  36. Hidden One says:

    I support the idea of a conference.

    I do not now have a blog, but I have run several in the past, and may one day begin blogging again. It would be very good if Catholic bishops and non-bishop bloggers were to begin to actively work together for the sake of Our Lord and His Church. Let us bloggers reform our own selves – I me, and thou thee – and let bygones be bygones in regard to our relationship with the successors of the Apostles. (We get the better end of that deal anyway. It’s not even close.)

    Let us all pray that His Will may be done in this matter.

  37. John Weidner says:

    To put this matter in a larger theoretical context, most existing (non-business) institutions are in difficulties today because they have not managed to transition to Information Age ways of living and working.

    The challenge to the Church is to find out how to be Catholic in this new world. We’ve hardly even begun to think.

    A similar thing happened at the coming of the Industrial Age. New possibilities were met by new Catholic growth. For instance the new possibilities of mass education and mass health care gave rise to many teaching and nursing orders, with a huge expansion of female religious. But the church also clung stubbornly to things that did not work in the new era. For instance, volunteers from around the world fought in the Pope’s army (I kid you not) trying to preserve the Papal States. Which had made sense in the Agricultural Age, when wealth was based on land.

    The question of bloggers is just a small part of the bigger picture of how we are moving from a world where information flows slowly up and down hierarchies, to one that is a vast and rich conversation, with much less in the way of authority and authoritative information channels full of “experts” and gatekeepers.

    I remember an instance when my own Archbishop was castigated by bloggers. And I wished so much that I had a way to communicate with him, because I wanted to tell him that what looked like irritating insubordination was really a huge opportunity for a conversation. If he had had something to say, those bloggers would have been thrilled to hear from him, and would have published his thoughts where tens-of-thousands would have read and pondered them! (And critiqued them too, but that’s what real conversations are like.) What a waste.

    It was a big teaching moment, but I’d guess it never occurred to him that a heart could speak to heart over the Interwebs…

  38. Jack Quirk says:

    I’m a Catholic with a blog, but it would would be incorrect to call my blog a Catholic blog, since I don’t usually touch on religious issues. Moreover, I’m not a Republican loyalist (or a Democratic one), so I don’t think I’ll be invited to the meeting. [Why would membership in a political party be a criterion for an invitation?] But I’m pleased to announce that I was out there at the beginning announcing that, because of the HHS mandate, I would not vote for Barack Obama. There are other reasons not to do that, of course, but people who don’t believe in the First Amendment shouldn’t be President. [Well said!] That’s the message that should go out, and I’ll be happy to continue beating that drum. If, as a result of this effort, the members of the Project for a New American Century come back into power, this time with a new Objectivist contingent, I (we all) will just have to suffer. Maybe this experience will finally inspire us to form a Catholic voting bloc. [If only!]

  39. MyBrokenFiat says:

    I adore this entire idea and much of this thread.

    Though my blog is about as green as they come, I’ll repost this as well (sorry, I don’t know how to “ping back” so please take my word that I’ll ship people back here to get the full heads-up).

    Also, I’d like to applaud Diane at Te Deum Laudamus for her commentary. I really found it to be charitable and illuminating (considering I’d never thought of the communication issue before). Thank you.

    Blessings, as always, Father Z. Thanks for the rallying cry.

  40. cecelia tone says:

    As a fairly new convert I attend Sunday Mass, and with 6 years under my belt the one time a Bishop has said Mass it seemed to me he was nervous with a crack or 2 in his voice, and in a hurry. It begs the question are they amoung there flock as a good Bishop should be?

  41. Autumn says:

    I think a conference like this would be great so we can collaboratively share our blogs and talk about the best means of reaching different audiences (i.e. young adults, families, women, clergy, etc). Great post!

  42. Tradster says:

    I’m not a blogger but I heartily applaud the suggestion. I have no way of knowing for certain but my gut feeling is that the majority of the bloggers are conservative. So it would be a wonderful gesture of goodwill and appreciation by the attending clergy if the conference Mass(es) were the TLM.

  43. John Weidner says:


    I’d love a TLM myself, but it would be tactically the worst thing. The aim here (as I understand it) is to bring Bishops and bloggers closer together. But it is the Church leaders who need to be wooed and coaxed into appreciating a new realm, which is probably strange and even obnoxious to them. We bloggers, as the “wooing” party, should try to appear as unobjectionable as possible.

    Harmless little lambs we should be…

  44. Kathleen10 says:

    Almost every time I visit this site I see how little I know, and on so many topics!

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