As you know, an English Catholic deacon of the Diocese of Lancaster who was a blogger was silenced by his bishop. HERE
My friend the Dean of Bexley, the P.P of Blackfen, His Hermeneuticalness, Fr. Timothy Finigan, distinguished English blogger whom everyone in Ol’ Blighty monitors on a day basis, has jumped in. HERE
Having reminded us that the Pope asked priests to use the blogosphere/social media, he has responded, saying:
I do wonder about the practical wisdom of attempting to censor the blogosphere. [Good luck with that, by the way!] Protect the Pope now carries posts by Mrs Donnelly, [the deacon’s wife] and she has offered an invitation to others to contribute material – which several writers have already taken up. Other censored bloggers can also simply start up a new blog under a pseudonym, or use alternative social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter are well-known but the possibilities are endless. As activists on the internet pointed out years ago, censorship is just another bug for which you find a hack or a workaround. [NB:] The danger is that a previously censored commenter will be probably not be inclined to moderation [in the sense of adopting a moderate tone, etc.] in a new social media incarnation.
Bishops also have on their side the great respect of most Catholics for Bishops. Quite often a blog will criticise a Bishop severely, only to find that another blog tells a different side to the story, or the Bishop issues a statement clarifying things – and then receives a lot of support from Catholic bloggers. The discussion will continue, but the Bishop is not exactly powerless to defend himself.
Bloggers work in an environment which is open to everyone. One of the healthy things about such open communication is precisely that you cannot rely on personal standing to squash disagreement. As Fr Zuhlsdorf put it so well, the internet operates a “Reverse Gresham’s Law“ whereby good information drives out bad. You can say something inaccurate or unfair if you want, but you can be sure that you will be corrected – within minutes if you have any personal standing – and the more you ignore correction, the more you will be attacked, and the lower your reputation will sink.
[NB] The converse is also true. Bloggers who dare to speak honestly and truthfully even when it is risky to do so, especially when they are courteous, even when expressing strong opinions, gain great respect from others. In my opinion, Deacon Nick Donnelly is one such blogger and I was unhappy to hear that he had been silenced. Now that “pastoral solutions” and “imaginative ways forward” are so much in vogue in another context, I hope that this faithful Deacon can be “welcomed and included.“
Do I hear an “Amen!”?
Fr. Z Kudos to His Hermeuticalness.
The digital continent, as Benedict called it, needs a strong clerical presence.
Meanwhile, I would remind their Excellencies of all stripes of Hamlet’s advice to Polonius regarding the hospitality to be offered to the travelling players.
Good my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used, for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time. After your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
My lord, I will use them according to their desert.
God’s bodykins, man, much better. Use every man after his desert, and who should ’scape whipping? Use them after your own honor and dignity. The less they deserve, the more merit is in your bounty. Take them in.