An evil site and occasion of sin. Wherein Fr. Z rants.

UPDATE BELOW (Fishwrap closed it’s comments.)

___ Original Published on: Nov 9, 2014 ___

If ever you needed proof of what an evil site and occasion of sin the National Schismatic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) has become, just have a look at the combox under the shameful post by Michael Sean Winters about the reassignment of Card. Burke. HERE

I undershot when I used the image of a “Lord of the Flies Dance” to describe what was about to happen once Card. Burke was demoted from his position as Prefect of the Signatura.

Like and admire Card. Burke or dislike and scorn Card. Burke… no one should ever treat another person in public the way they are treating Card. Burke – and each other – over there.

I blame the editors of the Fishwrap, in general, for their hypocritical policies concerning their combox, and Michael Sean Winters, in particular, for fostering such hostility and lack of charity.

I am forced to conclude that that is what they want.

Bishops who read this blog:  I implore you to consider looking in on the combox over there under that entry before your meeting later this week.   You cannot stop what is going on over there, I’m afraid.  But there is something you can do.  The display of sheer viciousness in their combox should demonstrate why there should be a formal demand from bishops far and wide that they remove the word “Catholic” from their title.

And if you ever wondered why I don’t allow an open combox here – once upon a time I did – both the combox at the National Schismatic Reporter regarding Card. Burke and that of Crux on the same matter should convince you that my policy is correct.

BTW… what I saw at Crux isn’t, in the main, as barbaric and twisted as what I saw at Fishwrap.

More and more I am using the moderation queue function here.

I want to provide a space for open discussion, I really do. But I cannot allow the sort of savagery that anonymity and a lack of consequences seems to bring out from people.  I am sure that were I to have an open combox again, as other sites do, my traffic here would skyrocket far beyond what it already is, which is pretty darn high.

The spiritual cost would be too great. I would be cooperating in evil.

That’s what Fishwrap is doing.  And they invite it and provide occasions for it.

We see horrific violations of charity and reason all over the internet in comboxes of blogs and on media websites. I try to tamp that down here, though some of it filters through. Far far less than what you see at Fishwrap, however, and for that I am grateful.

Conservatives and traditionalists certainly have their wickedly vicious commentators, who, emboldened by anonymity and a lack of immediate consequences, puke their bilious dreck into public view. It is one of the greater concerns I have in my life and work here.

But I have to say that what you see from liberals outstrips the bile of conservatives by orders of magnitude.

Let me remind you of something. When you post something on the internet, there are consequences, both for you and for others.

You may be a matter of scandal to others, weakening their faith. Direct ad hominem attacks are horrid and unfair, especially when lobbed into the arena with cowardly anonymity. You endanger your immortal soul when you do these things. I sincerely fear that many of the commentators in the combox at the Fishwrap are in danger of going to Hell. Anyone who can write some of the things you see over there has to be spiritually sick in dangers ways.

But that may be expected from a site that actively and openly promotes dissent from the Church’s teachings.

There is plenty of room and even a great need today for sharp rhetoric and blunt responses. But we must stick to issues and not make direct personal attacks.  I am not saying that we should never have fights.  We must have fights, as a matter of fact, when the stakes are high.  In fighting, however, we mustn’t become subhuman, agents of the Devil.

We have to be ready in our participation in the comboxes of the internet, to take some hard knocks.  If we choose to descend onto the digital sand of the arena, we are going to take some hits.  That’s okay.  But do so after having put on the armor of God and after having recalled the Apostle’s urgent admonition in 1 Peter 3.  When he tells people to be prepared to give answers, he says, first, they should sanctify Christ in their hearts and then, after, to do so with “with modesty and fear, having a good conscience”. Why?

That whereas they speak evil of you, they may be ashamed who falsely accuse your good conversation (anastrophe – manner of life, not just how we talk) in Christ.
For it is better doing well (if such be the will of God) to suffer, than doing ill.

Let the activity in the comboxes of those sites – if you dare to look into them – be a stimulus for some of you to examine your consciences and consider well your own participation in online comboxes…. at least my combox.

Let’s all be better.

I can’t catch everything here that violates decorum.  I have no staff.  So I ask you to participate, even vigorously, but to police yourself.  Think about what you are about the post.  Think before posting.

We can all fail in charity, but let’s not make that our default position.

The combox, for this entry, is closed.

UPDATE 10 Nov 1544 GMT:

I received an email from a reader:


When I went to the site just now (granted, here on PST), there was a sign that says “Comments are now closed.” And some of the comments had already been deleted.

Remaining comments are still of bottomfeeding variety, though.

There’s no proof like a few time-stamped screenshots, though.

This is at Fishwrap under that horrid post:

Editor’s note: Because the comments on this blog post have become unacceptable, NCR editors have decided to remove the Disqus thread for this post.

Meanwhile, Fishwrap is at it again with a new post on Card. Burke from CNS.  HERE  Never mind that it isn’t from a Fishwrap writer, they picked the worst possible photo of the Cardinal and they opened the combox.  Their usual viciousness has started up again, just as they intended.

Again, as the bishops meet, they should watch what Fishwrap is doing.


One of the prime movers of the nastiness about Card. Burke in the combox of the Fishwrap is one “Bill Freeman”:

This seems to be, as one of you readers pointed out to me in an email, the same fellow about whom Deacon Kandra wrote a blog post.  HERE

Here is his bio at the site “Progressive Catholics” HERE

What’s your background?

Unlike many ceremony officiants, I didn’t just go online and get ordained. After 35 years as a Roman Catholic deacon, I was ordained a priest in the independent Catholic movement on November 19, 2011.

I am a priest with the United American Catholic Church. My ministry is centered at the Friar Mychal Judge Pastoral Center in Northern Virginia where I am a chaplain working with the sick and those at the end of life, their families and caregivers. As part of that ministry, I oversee a worldwide Prayer Request Wall. I have an active wedding ministry with Progressive Catholic & Interfaith Weddings.

Enough said.   This is the sort of influence that drives the combox at Fishwrap.

At least Freeman uses his real name. I have to give him that.  That’s a notch above the cowards over there.


Fishwrap has closed their combox under the CNS piece that they reposted.  I am told by a reader here, however, that it is still possible to see the discussion through Disqus.

What is far more worrisome, however, is the new piece by Robert Mickens about Cardinal Burke.

First, allow me to remind you that Mickens was fired by the ultra-liberal English magazine The Tablet for his public comments about Benedict XVI.  It was bad enough that not even The Tablet could stomach it.  HERE

Mickens piece is as nasty, as the main entry, as the Fishwrap’s combox usually becomes.

His main notion is that Card. Burke and people who participate in the Extraordinary Form, a tiny minority, are sick weirdos.  No one should pay attention to them. He spends some ink dumping on John Paul II and Benedict.   The whole thing reeks of the usual smug liberal fantasy about their self-proclaimed moral superiority.

Here is a sample:

Burke, during these past six or so years in Rome, has emerged as perhaps the most liturgically and doctrinally “retrodox” prelate in the church. His name has become synonymous with the cappa magna and other outlandish ecclesiastical attire dating to a bygone era. He prides himself on being a fervent pro-life activist, though others would call him an overzealous anti-abortionist given his insistence that capital punishment and war, though rarely permissible, are not intrinsically evil. On the flip side, he makes his the loudest voice in the room — as he showed during the last synod gathering — in order to remind the whole world that sexual love between two people of the same sex is always an intrinsic evil. [This may be the root of the Fishwrap’s hatred of Burke.]

The cardinal’s fan base is made up mainly of Tridendine Mass devotees and proponents of the so-called “reform of the reform” of the liturgy, as well as other socially conservative Catholics. They all march (though some seem to just sleepwalk) under the banner of the “hermeneutic of continuity,” a phrase they mistakenly attribute to Benedict XVI. (The retired pope actually espoused a “hermeneutic of reform,” defining it as “a combination of continuity and discontinuity at different levels” and “innovation in continuity.”) [Ironic that he should mention him in this way, after what he did to Benedict on Facebook.]

Fortunately, the Burke groupies are a tiny minority within the much, much wider church. But, unfortunately, a good part of this minority seem to be seminarians (especially in English- and French-speaking areas), and a good number of priests ordained in the last five to 10 years. And then there are the bishops. [Your Excellencies… are you paying attention?] Lamentably, there seem to be no lack of them. At least the loudest ones. And the United States would seem to have more than its fair share.

This last point, however, exposes the incoherence of what Mickens is pushing.  If there are so few of these retro-weirdos around, why the worry?  If Burke’s “followers” are so insignificant in number and so marginal, why does Mickens dedicate so much space and energy to trashing them?

Could it be a) that they are not so insignificant and could it be that b) these liberals can’t afford even the existence of just one person telling the truth?

Mickens’ vilification of Card. Burke and others who might be in harmony with him comes from deep fear.  These people are terrified.  The clock keeps ticking and they are going to run out of steam without getting what they want.  In the meantime, the number of young priests who want solid, traditional Catholicism is growing and there is nothing they can do about it.

Wherever Mickens’ sour hatred comes from, it is frankly shocking to see something like this from a publication that has the word “Catholic” in the title.

The Catholic Bishops should not give the NCR a pass for this.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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