A deacon’s blog suppressed

I want everyone to know about this.

This was posted at the blog Protect The Pope, which was run by Deacon Nick Donnelly.

Diocese of Lancaster’s statement about Deacon Nick Donnelly
The Bishop’s office of the Diocese of Lancaster has kindly sent Nick the statement they issued to the press about him and Protect the Pope which is copied below.

“After learning that a notice had been placed upon the Protect the Pope website on 7 March saying: ‘Deacon Nick stands down from Protect the Pope for a period of prayer and reflection’ the Bishop’s Office at the Diocese of Lancaster was able to confirm that Bishop Campbell had recently requested Deacon Nick Donnelly to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site.

Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that the Bishop asked Deacon Nick to use this pause to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church.

Deacon Nick has agreed to the Bishop’s request at this time”.

I, for one, can imagine that a lot of pressure was exerted on the Bishop of Lancaster to have gone to such an extreme as to command a cleric under his charge not to think aloud in public.

I see now, however, that “M Donnelly” is posting at the blog. I take it that this is Missus Deacon. Good for her.

Go get ’em.

In the meantime, every click HERE to visit their blog and to give them a spike in stats.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in The Drill and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. brhenry says:

    Must a cleric have “universal preaching faculties” to blog?

  2. NBW says:

    Who are they going to replace him with…Deacon Sandy??

  3. Genna says:

    Deacon Nick started his blog to defend Pope Benedict from a maelstrom of secular calumnies in the run-up to Benedict’s UK visit which, incidentally, got a lukewarm response from the UK hierarchy. Deacon Nick’s blog has been successful because he has been a robust supporter of Catholic teaching and an energetic opponent of the dissident/modernist UK group ACTA, (A Call to Action – no guesses what that entails). ACTA is suddenly being given house-room by one or two high-ranking churchmen in the interests of “dialogue”. ACTA stayed below the radar during the previous pontificate.

  4. Why aren’t clerics who publish articles dissenting from Church teachings ever invited to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church?

  5. tcreek says:

    “…the only thing that makes the Church endurable is that it is somehow the body of Christ and that on this we are fed. It seems to be a fact that you have to suffer as much from the Church as for it but if you believe in the divinity of Christ, you have to cherish the world at the same time that you struggle to endure it. ”
    Flannery O’Connor

  6. I’ve not previously heard of the Bishop of Lancaster. Can anyone tell us anything about him? Perhaps something that puts him in a better light than the way this action looks on its face? Or something that puts this action into context?

  7. JacobWall says:

    Yes, M Donnelly is this bishop’s wife, as she clarifies in the first sentence of this post: http://protectthepope.com/?p=10125.

    It appears that she has opened an invitation to others to submit articles (http://protectthepope.com/?p=10146) and that this invitation has been taken up by other clergy (such as a certain Deacon Augustine – http://protectthepope.com/?p=10150.)

    Deacon Sandy (as per above comment) has not yet submitted any content. He must be really busy looking for ways to take jabs at an old man who has been a faithful servent of God, or perhaps just contemplating and writing those “spectacular” sermons he has.

    Perhaps some readers of this blog could submit some content to keep the blog rolling? Perhaps you, Fr. Z?

  8. JacobWall says:

    oops, that was a big slip – “DEACON’S wife”, not “bishop’s wife”!!!

  9. JacobWall says:

    another correction/clarification – it looks like my first comment (due to links I included) is still in moderation. The correction above refers to the fact that I intended to affirm that M Connelly is the deacon’s wife, but I accidentally wrote “bishop’s wife.”

  10. pseudomodo says:


    If he looks like David Niven then you may have been right the first time!!

  11. Good question Henry Edwards. The same type of question should be posed and answered in many blog scenarios today.

    Here’s hoping this good deacon’s situation improves. Although the laity has more freedom to speak out, we need faithful religious and clergy to bravely guide us.

    Not knowing anything about this Bishop or the Deacon’s blog, other than my cursory check just now, I will add one observation: Generally in any organization, it is risky to publicly embarrass your own boss.

  12. JacobWall says:


    I agree that there could be something behind the scenes we don’t know about. But this move seems to be specifically about him *blogging* since the only request was to take a break from blogging; as far as we know, he is still tin active ministry, etc.

    So I took a look over his blog. All solid stuff, from what I saw. Look at his blogroll – diocese websites, and the names that I recognize are certainly bloggers who are “in-line” so to speak. I certainly don’t get the perception that he was bashing his bishop on this blog.

    What could’ve ruffled feathers? I saw one post that criticized the direction of Catholic schools in the diocese. Another addressed the issue of dessent among clergy in the diocese. Perhaps these would be considered “internal” matters that clergy should address internally rather than in public criticism? Yet, still that is only two posts among about 50 that I browsed through. If it were an issue of a handful of posts like this, I could see the bishop asking him to take them down – but stop blogging?

    On the other hand, his menu bar touts a big complaint against “ACTA.” If the bishops are warming up to this group, as Genna says, perhaps that could have something to do with it?

    I’m not going to jump to conclusions. We have no reason to believe that this bishop’s actions are questionable, so with the information we have (or don’t have) I would not criticize this bishop or his actions.

    But this isn’t a question of “taking sides.” Looking over the deacon’s blog, I see nothing objectionable – on the contrary, it seems to be a solid blog. So, consequently, I do not hesitate to show support in a positive way; without making implications about the bishop or focussing on him, I would be glad to show support for the blog that (as far as I can see) should be kept alive.

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  14. Sixupman says:

    When will they come for/suppress the other orthodox clergy bloggers in England & Wales?

  15. Fr AJ says:

    Too bad, had he been blogging about how bad the new missal is, or how we need women Cardinals, or that that the Mass of St. Gregory is horrible and should be banned, I’m sure he would’ve gotten a diocesan award instead being told to stop and reflect.

  16. jacobi says:

    Deacon Nick has been requested to “voluntarily pause” from posting on his blog. He has, as an Ordained Minister in the Church, obediently agreed.
    The period of prayer and reflection requested by the bishop should concern the urgent need in this 21st Century to use relevant methods to project Truth and Unity, and that certainly includes, and will include ever more in the future, blogging.

    You can rest assured that St Catherine of Sienna, communicator and reformer as she was, would have used it enthusiastically if it had then been available!

    I trust and pray that Deacon Nick will come back after such a period, a month perhaps, refreshed and ever more ready to uphold and project the Truth and Teaching of the One True Catholic and Apostolic Church.

    In the meantime, M. Donnelly has invited considered notes ?

  17. Brooklyn says:

    “Go get ‘em.”

    Who is she suppose to go get?

  18. paladin says:

    Why aren’t clerics who publish articles dissenting from Church teachings ever invited to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church?

    I wish I could suspect otherwise, but it’s often the case that orthodox commenters, etc., are “called on the carpet” more often because the powers-that-be have done a sort of “risk analysis”, and the powers-that-be figure that orthodox people are more likely to obey, and less likely to do the destructive sort of things (tantrums, press conferences, boycotts, obscene phone calls and messages, etc.) that heterodox people often do.

    To illustrate: imagine, for a moment, a bishop inviting a flambuoyantly heterodox (or heretical), dissenting figure to “quiet themselves and retire for prayerful reflection”. I think of Mr. (nee “Father”) Matthew Fox’s reaction to the Vatican’s directive that he retire for a year of prayerful reflection: “[it is] an honor to be silenced by the present regime in the Vatican!” (20 Oct., 1988) That was coupled by a letter-writing campaign against those who “cruelly silenced his voice for the Earth, for women, for [etc.]”. Heterodox dissenters are, quite frankly, more likely to thumb their noses at any bishops, etc., who try to rein them in.

  19. acricketchirps says:

    Brooklyn: ’em!

  20. Bosco says:

    At least Cardinal Dolan’s refreshing televised exuberance and Catholic orthodoxy haven’t been suppressed.

  21. pelerin says:

    Readers may wonder why the Deacon’s blog is called ‘Protect the Pope’ and at least one commenter has criticised its title not knowing how it originated. Prior to the visit of Pope Benedict to Britain there was an organisation calling itself ‘Protest the Pope’ which did just that. So as a result the Deacon very cleverly decided to call his blog ‘Protect the Pope.’

  22. Magpie says:

    I followed PTP blog since it started. Deacon Nick spoke truth and they didn’t like that. It’s how liberals play. They get all their magazines, newspapers, and websites, but the orthodox don’t get the same privileges. Good to see you’ve not been silenced Fr Z. Keep at it.

  23. Magpie says:

    A guest post on PTP from Fr Z is an excellent idea and I am sure Deacon Nick’s wife would be delighted, as would Deacon Nick. What do you say Father?

  24. Robbie says:

    Maybe Deacon Nick should get a few pointers from Deacon Sandy. That should get the higher ups off his back.

  25. benedetta says:

    I have never seen this blog before. Then again I don’t generally read a lot of English Catholic blogs or publications, but now I think I will. Does anyone know what the offending words or teachings were that this married Deacon was asked not to discuss publicly?

  26. benedetta says:

    And, an excellent question Miss Anita Moore. Of course the liberal elites who with dissent take over certain corridors of power or parishes, if there is any similarity to the way the Pharisees treated lepers, or, say, tax collectors, to propose to do something prolife within the parish, that would generate a similar response.

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  28. Supertradmum says:

    Several points. I followed Deacon Nick’s blog regularly and made frequent comments. His was a prophetic voice in my mind. I think his silencing is also prophetic. In other words, his being suppressed is crying out loudly to the rest of us bloggers that our time is limited.

    Why? Because people do not want to hear the raw truth about things. However, I need to say this.

    In 2000, in prayer, I was “convicted” of being too adversarial. In other words, I was always writing against and not for…

    This was an attitude not good for my soul. I was becoming too strident and looking always for the bad and the negative and not the good.

    God called me up on this fault. Yes, we need to be prophets, but with love, great love.

    Does this mean Deacon Nick needed to be silenced? No.

  29. Justalurkingfool says:

    I am not at all surprised.

  30. I am cloudowl says:

    “Vox clamantis in deserto”.
    I’m not so sure.
    +Michael doesn’t strike me as a Vatican II Dinosaur. A quick search pulled up an article I remember from about two years ago where the Deacon commented on the Bishop’s preference for Catholic teaching in Cschools.
    I wonder, then, that there might be something more underlying this headline.

  31. VincentUK says:

    Protect the Pope started off fisking secular media attacks on Pope Benedict around the time of his Papal Visit to the UK, but lately seems to have spent most of his recent posts attacking the Catholic hierarchy in his own country. For example,

    Archbishop Nichols … what are you going to do to address the concerns of Heythrop students who are rightly disgusted about the perversions and promiscuity being promoted during SHAG week? What are you going to do to defend those pro-life students who are harassed and insulted for defending the sanctity of life in a Jesuit-run college? A future cardinal of the Catholic Church should be concerned about …

    Though I agree with his position, this approach is undignified. Other bloggers (e.g at http://www.lovingit.co.uk/2013/10/do-all-bloggers-turn-nasty-in-the-end.html) have noted his unfortunate trend into negativity. Frankly, I was surprised that he had been able to get away with criticising the hierarchy for so long. If he refused to tone down his posts, then this pause is surely for the best. It is to Deacon Nick’s great credit that he has obeyed his bishop. I hope that he will return soon, with a renewed focus on the Church’s external enemies.

  32. Maria says:

    Dear VincentUK says:
    13 March 2014 at 7:24 pm

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

    “I hope that he will return soon, with a renewed focus on the Church’s external enemies.” — the worst enemies are inside the church.

    From Rorate Caeli:
    “It is a well-known account. Sister Marie Bernarde (Bernadette) Soubirous is in the convent of the Sisters of Charity in Nevers, it is 1870, war is raging throughout northern France as the Prussian-led German armies march towards Paris. The first printed version of the account,* published while she was still living, is the following. A visitor came to Bernadette at that time and made her the following questions:
    – Did you receive, in the grotto of Lourdes, or after then, any revelations related to the future and fate of France? Did not the Blessed Virgin deliver any warning for France, any threats?
    – No
    – The Prussians are at our gates; does that not cause you any fear?
    – No.
    – There is thus nothing to fear?
    – I only fear bad Catholics.
    – You do not fear anything else?
    – No, nothing else.

    I think St Bernadette is right as we can still experience it today. I can actually name bishops and priests who lead the faithful into error. We also have famous “catholic” politicians.

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

  33. benedetta says:

    Slightly off topic liturgical levity: does anyone else suspect that the SSPX folks are paying Deacon Sandy?

    I’m joking! Don’t shoot!

  34. CharlesG says:

    And yet the Tablet blatantly trashes and dissents from Catholic teaching all the time, and the English and Welsh hierarchy don’t seem particularly concerned to have this magazine on offer in the backs of many Catholic churches…

  35. Pearl says:

    Miss Anita Moore, O.P.

    “Why aren’t clerics who publish articles dissenting from Church teachings ever invited to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church?”

    Short answer – because they won’t obey.

  36. Deacon Augustine says:

    I don’t know the exact reasons for Deacon Nick’s period of reflection, but recently he has taken aim at “Gay Masses” promoted in a certain new Cardinal’s Archdiocese where people are “affirmed” in their debauched lifestyle contrary to the teachings of the Church. He has also been campaigning recently against the Dominican Fr. Radcliffe being given a platform at the Dublin Divine Mercy Conference – the same Fr Radcliffe who has been posited the “Eucharistic nature of homosexual love”. Then, of course, there has been the publicizing of the aims of ACTA – an organization of dissenters which attempts to subvert and undermine the teachings of the Church in numerous diverse areas of dogma and morals.

    In all of the above he has been absolutely faithful to God’s Law and the Magisterium. However, I imagine some powerful egos have felt a little got at and have no doubt put pressure on his bishop to silence him. I make no criticism of his bishop, but I do stand behind Deacon Nick absolutely. The time has come when the powerful who err must be held to account. If the shepherds will not shepherd then it is up to the sheep to make a stand and declare “As for me and my house, we will follow the Lord!”

  37. incredulous says:


    I do think you are off base. One of the sidebars that occurred last night during a classroom lecture on Acts, the instructor mentioned “Secrets of the Vatican” which just aired on PBS. He is a rock solid Catholic and his takeaway that this was so disturbing that even adult, faithful Catholics could walk away from the Holy Bride after viewing this.

    So, to your point about focusing on external enemies of the Church (by natural inference, glossing over enemies within the Church), that is the road to destruction. We must purge the Church of debauchery and these evil evil men, lest the Church offers hypocrisy and no reasonable alternative to the paganism and devil worship that fills the world today. This is hardly compelling intellectually nor spiritually.

    Enough of the diabolical corruption of evil men IN the Church.

  38. SKAY says:

    “At least Cardinal Dolan’s refreshing televised exuberance and Catholic orthodoxy haven’t been suppressed.”

    Cardinal Dolan’s recent comments to Meet the Press -article from NBC.

  39. Long-Skirts says:


    I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
    Scared to rock the Barque and make a mess
    So I sat quietly, obeyed politely
    Ignored what learned in Baltimore
    Forgot the Church that’s marked by Four
    I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

    You made me sit, but I knelt down
    Dusty sandals brushed on ground
    You hear my voice, you hear that sound
    Roaring Rosaries all around
    You made me sit, but I knelt down
    Get ready ‘cause I’ve had enough
    I see it all, I see it now

    We’ve caught the eye of the Tibre, we’re fighters, dancing through the fire
    ‘Cause we are Catholic and we’re gonna say our “Roar” sries
    Louder,louder than the lion
    ‘Cause we are Catholic and they’re gonna hear us roar

    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    They’re gonna hear us roar

    Blogs are flyin’ like a butterfly
    Stinging like a bee for Truth we’ll die
    They call you zero, but you’re a hero

    They made you stop, but you kneel down
    Dusty sandals brushed on ground
    They hear your voice, they hate that sound
    Like lightening gonna strike Hell’s hound
    They made you stop, but you kneel down
    Get ready ‘cause I’ve had enough
    I see it all, I see it now

    We’ve caught the eye of the Tibre, we’re fighters, dancing through the fire
    ‘Cause we are Catholic and we’re gonna say our “Roar” sries
    Louder, louder than the lion
    ‘Cause we are Catholic and they’re gonna hear us roar

    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    Oh oh oh oh oh oh
    They’re gonna hear us roar….
    Ro-oar, ro-ar, ro-ar, ro-ar, “Roar”sries!!!

    with apologies to Katy Perry’s, ROAR
    (“even a stopped watch is right twice a day”)

  40. The Masked Chicken says:

    “Though I agree with his position, this approach is undignified.”

    Was St. Catherine of Sienna undignified when she told a Pope to, “Play the man?” Yes, there are different ways to speak the truth, but sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind. It all depends on the circumstances. If a person’s tone is strident, the simple thing to do is to tell them that. That is fraternal correction. We do not know of any conversations between the Deacon and the Bishop, so who knows what happened. Fraternal correction should be gradually escalating, not struck with a hammer. One does not kill fleas by the same means one kills elephants. It seems inconceivable to tell someone to stop blogging because of tone.

    In any case, I thought that a deacon’s wife was supposed to support his ministry. Would it not seem more appropriate if Mrs. Deacon supported her husband by also not blogging instead of acting like, what amounts to, a proxy (I withdraw this if she is not blogging, since I have not read the blog, just the comment, here, which I might be misinterpreting)?

    Oh, and a broken watch is not right twice a day. The broken watch is simply not wrong, twice a day. There is a subtle difference.

    The Chicken

  41. The Masked Chicken says:


    Although I have no idea who might publish them, you ARE saving these gems for a book, right? Poetical evangelization. Never seen the like outside of Francis Thompson.

    The Chicken

  42. Deacon Augustine says:

    The Masked Chicken, as the bishop of Lancaster clearly spelt out the duties incumbent upon “ordained bloggers/website administrators”, I think it quite safe to assume that a deacon’s wife does not come into this category. Laity take no oaths of obedience to anybody.

  43. Scott W. says:

    I think it quite safe to assume that a deacon’s wife does not come into this category. Laity take no oaths of obedience to anybody.

    Mask Chicken’s point is correct in that the deacon’s wife is supposed to support his ministry, thus, posting as a proxy for the deacon (a sock-puppet in a manner of speaking) would not be in the spirit of obedience.

    However, the blog states that she is posting contributions submitted from others outside her family. I think that is fair game.

  44. Vecchio di Londra says:

    Deacon Nick has factually reported and strongly protested against shocking, clearly identifiable abuses outlined above by Deacon Augustine, added to which is the revolt by some diehards against the new English translation – they want a brand new English liturgy that is not ‘just’ a translation of the OF Roman Rite but a new independent ‘version’. (Riiiight…:-)
    About this well-organized moral, doctrinal and liturgical dissidence, the hierarchy of E&W remains obstinately, disgracefully silent.
    Neither Nick’s tone nor the contents of his posts are ‘strident’ or ‘undignified’. Silencing him from telling uncomfortable truths suggests that he has hit a nerve.
    OTOH, allowing the dissidents free rein to parade their disobedience on national media as ‘representatives of the Catholic Church’ claiming their self-indulgent heresy is ‘what most Catholics think’ is a cause of scandal.
    I suggest that, as with the German bishops, we have to ‘follow the money’. Lots and lots of semi-detached ‘c’atholics in the pews means more weekly envelopes than if they became aware that they are not observing the laws of the Church and drifted away, in the absence of the strong moral teaching that has been largely absent here for years.

  45. Bosco says:

    I suggest that for all of those who have not scrupled to comment here without direct knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the silencing of Deacon Nick, the words of Abraham Lincoln ought give pause for reflection:

    “Better to remain silent and be taken for a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.”

  46. Jerry says:

    re: Masked Chicken – ‘Was St. Catherine of Sienna undignified when she told a Pope to, “Play the man?”’

    The difference is that St. Catherine delivered the message to the Pope directly, not by publishing it in a newspaper.

  47. Jack Regan says:

    I knew Nick and his wife, Martina, very well during my time in Lancaster Diocese and they were wonderful people. I worked closely with Martina on a few things, especially.

    Nick is a little reactionary at times, truth be told, but generally very much a force for good. He was also the author of the original ‘Fit For Mission?’ document and received remarkably little credit for being so.

    I hope his blog gets back underway soon, and I’ll keep them both in my prayers.

  48. Nicolas Bellord says:

    VincentUK: You say ” this approach is undignified”. The protest was against Heythrop (a Catholic University College in London) organising a SHAG week which started off with a party organised by an organisation called “Ohmy” which deliberated encouraged and facilitated every kind of sinful sexual activity. I am afraid the track record of the response of the Hierarchy in England to such matters requires very strong words. This episode did in the end encourage the authorities to take some action for next year I believe. Demonstrating can become necessarily undignified if authorities do not respond to legitimate complaints. Anyway I do not think being undignified is sufficient reason to close down a blog. I am afraid the Bishop’s attempt at censorship will be an own goal in the end.

  49. Vecchio di Londra says:

    I agree with Nicholas B. Nick Donnelly has identified several serious sources of subversion and disobedience which are tacitly tolerated by the hierarchy of E&W. (Maybe they would claim they are ‘tolerating them without accepting them’ :-)
    It is not scandalous to uncover and criticize abuse: the abuse itself is the scandal.
    Casting the moneylenders out of the Temple must have looked very undignified.

  50. Long-Skirts says:

    Masked Chicken said:

    “The broken watch is simply not wrong, twice a day. There is a subtle difference.”

    Masked Chicken, you are one smart Chicken, “…your mind is a Palace”! ;-)

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  53. Magash says:

    Its been days since this was posted, so I know I’m late to the party. Still I must say that the good bishop has obviously never heard of the Streisand effect. I suspect Protecting the Pope has never seen the stats that it has gotten over the past week.

  54. Magash says: the good bishop has obviously never heard of the Streisand effect

    Too true. I can attest to this. Every time I get bashed out there by liberals and the olympian middle, my traffic gets a bump. Then again, the bump isn’t really all that big, since they are read by so few.

    I was pleased to help Protect The Pope get more traffic. As a matter of fact click HERE, and spike their traffic a little more.

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