A bishop kills a deacon’s Catholic blog

This is rather sad news.

We have seen what happened between an English permanent deacon and his diocesan bishop over the deacon’s blog.

Now this:

Bishop Michael Campbell effectively closes Protect the Pope


It is with sorrow that I am writing to let you know that Bishop Campbell, the Bishop of Lancaster, has refused Nick’s request to resume news posting on Protect the Pope.  Bishop Campbell has also stated that he does not want anyone posting on Protect the Pope on Nick’s behalf.  [Let me know if a new blog is started.  Seriously.]

Although I have been news posting on my own behalf on the site, I now feel unable to continue.

Protect the Pope will close as a news service on Sunday 4th May, the Feast of the English Martyrs to allow a short period for readers of Protect the Pope to say goodbye to each other.

Thank you (on my own behalf) for all the prayers, support and help we have received.

Please continue to pray for our Bishop.

Were another blog to start, and were I alerted to the fact, I might be persuaded to mention on my own electronic pages.

I’m just sayin’

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Stvsmith2009 says:

    Does anyone know the reason for this? It all seems rather harsh and arbitrary to me.

  2. Joseph-Mary says:

    This deacon was shedding some light into some dark places and those that like the dark places have gotten to the powers that be. Remember St. Louis Marie de Montfort who, with the local people, spent over a year building a beautiful Calvary shrine only to be ordered to tear it down at the end. Persecution against the faithful from within the Church is not new. It is sad. I am thinking of a particular Order not permitted to offer the TLM for example and whose founder is under ‘house arrest’ and not able to go to his hometown on his 81st birthday nor visit the graves of his parents who are servants of God. And there are no charges against him. Stuff of saints.

  3. Uxixu says:

    Wow, I’ll add prayers for this bishop as well as his deacon to my intentions on my next rosary. Never thought it would go this far. Of course, I thought that about the Franciscans of the Immaculate as well. :(

  4. I’ve heard it opined that the Permanent Diaconate is a way to castrate faithful Catholic men who want to serve the Church in fidelity and orthodoxy. Laymen on fire to serve God through His Church may better serve Her as laymen.

    This is NOT to criticize the Permanent Diaconate, within whose ranks are found true saints and servants of Our Lord and His Church. But we all know that priests often suffer consequences for nothing more than being faithful to the teachings of the Church. Permanent Deacons, ordained men even further down the food chain, are even more easily “disciplined.”

  5. Mike says:

    I’ve not understood this situation since it began to unfold. If Deacon Donnelly has erred, would it not be charitable (or “pastoral”) of Bishop Campbell to enlighten him and us as to what happened?

    Pater, Ave and Gloria ascending forthwith on behalf of all involved.

  6. LeeF says:

    If the good Fr. Z did not have an anomalous situation of residing in a diocese in which he is not incardinated, albeit with faculties of the good *current* local bishop, would his bishop automatically be OK with this blog? A good chance not. How about without the snark we all love? Maybe. Without the snark of the readers in the comments as well? Probably. But only because he comments on an international and national level, while only briefly discussing scattered local dioceses.

    But now what would happen, even without the snark, if he turned his focus primarily to the diocese in which he resides, or is in the future incardinated? Good chance he would get shut down as a good many if not a clear majority of bishops would not think it proper for a cleric to be negatively commenting on other clerics and events/happenings at other parishes, let alone the bishop’s own actions or omissions.

    Such a shut down would likely be justified by saying it is causing division in the local church. And while most of us around here would retort that it is the dissenters who are actually causing that division by their theological dissent and liturgical and canonical disobedience, instead of those who shine light on same, I would bet that argument would not fly, true though it be.

    Terry above rightly points out that it is easier for the laity to shine those lights on the dissenters and their actions and sayings. And as long as they don’t include “Catholic” in their website/blog title, and maintain a minimum of respect instead of maximum snarkiness, then I think it would be hard for a bishop to force them to shut down. However perhaps not, and the secrecy required in canonical processes works in favor of those who seek to shut down the voices of the faithful pointing out the actions of the dissenters.

  7. OrthodoxChick says:

    If this deacon were to, say, find a layperson to serve as a ghost blogger, would such a situation fall under the category of underhanded and sneaky, or wise as a serpent?

  8. Netmilsmom says:

    I’ll ghostwrite for them.


  9. GCC Catholic says:


    If Deacon Nick or his wife were to find a layperson to serve as a ghost blogger, I would suggest that would not only be underhanded and sneaky, but also disobedient to Bishop Campbell’s instructions. As Mrs. Donnelly already posted: Bishop Campbell has also stated that he does not want anyone posting on Protect the Pope on Nick’s behalf. Considering the actions that a bishop could have taken, this was a relatively gentle response; it is in Deacon Nick’s best interest that he not be in any way connected to any attempt to undermine the bishop’s order.

    What I would suggest is that one or more of the laity could and should start up another blog, without the assistance of Deacon or Mrs. Donnelly, to continue to keep the misdeeds of ACTA and their supporters out in the open. Surely there is someone else in England, and even in the Diocese of Lancaster, who is up to the task.

    I hadn’t been closely following Protect the Pope, but in a quick glance at the site I see that Deacon Nick pointed out some serious issues in other dioceses a couple months ago, including the open support of ACTA by two other dioceses. I can’t help but wonder if there may have been some pressure on Bishop Campbell by powers-that-be to rid them of this ‘turbulent deacon’. I pray this is not the case, but if it is, that is all the more reason for laypeople to take up the cause.

  10. Scott W. says:

    What GCC said. We don’t do sneaky. But let the call go out to laity in the diocese and hope someone rises to the challenge. Let’s workshop some blog names: Ungagged Laity, Stones Shouting Out, etc.

  11. CharlesG says:

    Hopefully some lay bloggers not under obedience will step in to act as watchdogs concerning the actions of dissident groups within the Church like ACTA.

  12. StWinefride says:

    There is more information in the UK Catholic Herald. Deacon Donnelly says that he doesn’t understand the grounds on which the Bishop has made the decision and also ends with this:

    “Finally, I continue to encourage all faithful and loyal Catholics to take up the responsibility given us by Our Lord to safeguard, defend and teach the divine doctrines of the Church. Maybe some of you will even consider setting up your own versions of ‘Protect the Pope’. I’d be happy to give you advice about how to go about this.”


    Prayers for all involved.

  13. jacobi says:

    I suppose it had to happen sooner or later – at least on this side of the pond. You lot over there are a bit harder to suppress, or so I’m told.

    Two popular blogs have stopped receiving comment. Yes, I know it’s all very demanding and so on, but….
    And now, this very orthodox, albeit outspoken blog has been shut down. One can only speculate what strings have been pulled, but a lot have, that’s for sure . I wonder who is next? What forces are at work?

    Clearly the Relativist factions in the Church have as new lease of life and are making a comeback encourage by a belief that Pope Francis is their man and is going to change everything.

    Well we shall see!

    In the meantime Fr Z, watch your back!

  14. incredulous says:

    I didn’t realize my faith supported mullahs who issue fatwas! I thought we pursued Truth as it will set us free. As a side, what’s the “canonical” state of Salman Rushdie after Bishop Khatami’s edict?

  15. Per Signum Crucis says:

    To add to Jacobi, it does occur to me that some of Fr.Z’s Quaeriturs, particularly when he is asked whether what a particular priest is doing or not doing is licit, are a hand grenade waiting to go off. Yes, there is the First Amendment in the USA but there is also what is best described as “due process”; I suspect that this is a case where due process is the favoured way of handling criticism rather than the public forum of the blogosphere. If so, the function of the blogosphere is itself up for critique : should it be an information [or propaganda] facility or does it genuinely empower netizens to challenge the big fish whether they be of secular or religious orientation? Thorny questions and I don’t expect this thread to provide the or any answers. I’m just saying, that’s all…

  16. YorkshireStudent says:

    To a certain extent we must ‘do sneaky’. What I mean by that is we ought to disobey the Bishop’s intention – which is for the blog to stop operating. He may or may not have the power to order Deacon’s wives about – but he certainly can’t stop laity from different Diocese getting involved an writing for them – though I do agree that the new writers should use their own names, out of pride in serving the Church if nothing else!

    And for all those who know your medieval English politics, you can probably understand why I (as a Yorkshire-man) am in no hurry to give into the Bishop of Lancaster…!

  17. Kerry says:

    …”I am Spartacus!”

  18. iPadre says:

    So much for the New Evangelization and the call of both Pope Benedict & Pope Francis, for Clerics, to use new media to promoet the Gospel.

  19. Josephus Muris Saliensis says:

    What a sad and pathetic little man. We must pray for Bishop Campbell, who is so out of step withe the Holy Father’s injunction to use the new digital media as part of the New Evangelisation.

    How England need evangelists. We are truly mission territory now, and our shepherds sit and talk to the wolves while their flocks are decimated.

  20. The Masked Chicken says:

    Remember that catacomb thingy? The safest way for like-minded people to communicate is by setting up a series of e-mail relays in a closed system. Such a blog would have the encrypted blog pages sent only to the registered subscribers and comments could be made by mass e-mail. That way, the bishop would not even know of the blog’s existence. You guys have got to plan ahead for the coming purge. The Internet was created to withstand a nuclear attack. I hate to be suggesting subversive activities, but, especially in places like China, and, sadly, eventually the U. S. A., such things might have to be done. I hope my use of those terms don’t cause the NSA to monitor this blog nor bug my home – that would be a waste of a perfectly good bug.

    The Chicken

  21. YorkshireStudent says:

    Thanks for the advice Mr Masked Chicken, though I’m not sure we are oppressed in quite that way in England yet. In fact I would hope to sign His Lordship the Bishop up to the email alerts of whichever blog takes the place of Protect the Pope, it would probably count as a work of Spiritual Mercy! Even if he doesn’t read it – staying out in the open is the best way to stand up to this (probably) uncanonical bullying!

  22. SimonDodd says:

    I would suggest that the good Deacon complies in the manner that a newspaper publisher might: By selling or giving the domain and the blog to someone else, whose posts will not be “on his behalf,” or indeed under his control. Suppose that I own the New York Times, and Cardinal Dolan “forbids” my continuing to publish it. One possibility is to shut down the newspaper. The more likely possibility is that I’ll just sell the newspaper to someone else, under whose stewardship it will continue to be published, only far more insulated from his eminence’s influence than it was under my stewardship. Why should a blog be any different? To paraphrase Mencken, Bp. Campbell knows what he wants, and ought to get it—good and hard.

  23. MarkG says:

    >>> [Let me know if a new blog is started. Seriously.]
    Domains (such as protectthepope.com) can be transferred to a new owner. Just find someone to receive the new domain as owner and then unlock the domain for transfer with their ISP. Most ISPs have anonymous domain registration for the new owner.

    On a larger note, I think it’s silly for anyone to try to shut down or even slow down anything on the Internet these days. It’s a much more rational approach to simply present the other side of whatever you disagree with on the Internet and let people decide who is more credible.

    To me it actually makes a Bishop look powerless when he tries to shut something down. The Bishop has a very powerful bully pulpit that comes with the office that can be easily magnified using modern communications, such as the Internet, video, etc.
    Despite that power, if a Bishop fears the information, ideas, and/or opinions of an Internet blogger, it makes the Bishop look like he’s not confident of his own abilities to lead, even from a position of enormous advantage.

  24. JARay says:

    I got to the blog by reading “Prof Tina Beattie-If she’s a Catholic I’m a banana” and I have maintained “Protect the Pope” as one of my favourite blogs. I am very disappointed to read that Mrs Donnelly is going to close it down on the fifth of May.

  25. frahobbit says:

    <> War of the Roses?

  26. Hidden One says:

    I don’t like raining on parades.

    Let us remember that bishops are priests, and, as such, are owed tremendous respect, which is not always shown them. And yet, according to St. Josemaría Escrivá, “If you have not the highest reverence for the priesthood and for the religious state, it is not true that you love God’s Church.” It is impossible to entirely divorce disrespect of a priest from disrespect for the priesthood. Let us heed St. Josemaría’s warning and be respectful, even charitable, toward Bishop Campbell.

  27. Here’s my thoughts on the matter: it is very very sad but we should remember to pray for his bishop – and all in authority in the Church. http://nonangelussedanglus.blogspot.hk/2014/05/protect-pope.html?m=1

  28. Elizium23 says:

    And once again, in an austere show of obedience and fidelity, the good Deacon and his friends comply with a legal order from competent authority. This is what separates the sheep from the goats. Obedience.

  29. sw85 says:

    I have never read “Protect the Pope” and I cannot see any publicly stated reason for the bishop to request/order its termination. Can anyone clue me in on why this happened?

  30. Hidden One says:

    As noted on Rorate Caeli, the diocese has now put out a statement on the matter. In short, as I understand the statement, the bishop’s actions were brought about by the perceived uncharity of posts on the blog in question.

    [Always soooo helpful.]

  31. Pingback: Bp Campbell’s Press Release: “I have not closed down Protect the Pope.” ACTION ITEM! - Perfect Your Lifestyle

  32. cl00bie says:

    There is something to be said for shutting down the comboxes on your blog.

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