16 July 2010


I was moved to start this blog by a comment made by the Editor of The Universe about something I'd written:

“I was about to bash out yet another indignant reply pointing out that The Universe is a loyal organ that is constantly questioning and analysing general policies through its feature writers, then I came to the second part of your comment, and actually you’ve right, and you’ve hit on something really important here – how does one write a loyal but at the same time questioning article that doesn’t end up like a soggy pastry? I must admit we’ve tended to steer our writers (and they’ve steered themselves) towards a formula just such as Ttony has described – the message tends to end up the same whatever the subject – “doing great but could do better”. I must admit this has become so commonplace that I’ve all but banned headlines that include statements of the blindingly obvious like “Church could do more to ….” And “Our duty to ….” The real difficulty here is that natural journalistic instinct says that contributors and commentators should just be allowed to sound off (within reason) on any topic they feel very strongly about. The danger is a) that your Catholic paper ends up being a shooting gallery, and that b) we must never forget that Catholic papers have a dual role – to inform the faithful, but also as tools of positive evangelisation for non-Catholics that might pick them up. Critical comment can be indicative of a vibrant, open and developing Church, but right now ours isn’t and – most importantly – I don’t think everyone has the confidence or maturity to engage some of these contentious debates, though that’s changing through the unavoidable reality of decline, and the consequences that brings. When I was formulating the loyalty policy of The Universe, my own bishop, Edwin Regan, summed up what was needed from the Catholic press perfectly – the phrase he used was ‘critical solidarity’, which sounds to me exactly what Ttony is asking for.”

The problem is that I find myself in exactly the same position as the people I had been criticising: I want to write what I really think about some of the people exercising authority both in the Church in England and Wales, and in broader Catholic life (the Tablet Trust, the Catholic Union, Catholic Voices etc), but find myself unable to publish some things that I know, and some that I think, because they would give scandal.

The scandalous private life of a very senior Catholic person is crying out for exposure, but it will not be done by me; my Bishop is in a position vis-à-vis the magisterium that would be easily characterised as schismatic, but it won't be by me; you can fairly easily obtain tickets for Papal ceremonies in September that were allocated in the expectation that they would be issued to parishioners, but it won't be me saying how.  Three examples of something I know about: lots of you know about others.  And none of us feel able to say anything.

Æstivation: I shall retreat from the blog for the summer and watch and wonder and brood about just how far the leadership of the Catholic Church in England and Wales can take the ... let's say the mickey, before people like me turn on them with the wrath that (I increasingly feel) they are going to be visited with. 


Dorothy said...

Yes, I suppose a great many things that we know, or think, have to be held back, for the sake of justice and/or charity, and probably for other reasons too. But it is very frustrating.

Have a good summer, and a refreshing break.

Ben Trovato said...

Not on-topic, but I've tagged you in a meme: http://ccfather.blogspot.com/2010/07/tagged.html


Innocent Smith said...

The patience of the saints will sanctify the Church, I'm sure of it Ttony. I can think of no othe way to explain the current heap of dung on which we appear to be seated.

Bon courage and bon été.

Mike Cliffson said...

Dear TTony
Perhaps you're right...

If it's any consolation I found this which I hadn't met for nigh on 50 yrs,aged 11ish? not I think this translation, introduced to us by one of the most eccentric of priests.... (inter alia treated alike all males between about 2 an d 22, the most peculiar cassock in the pockets of which he had small tins of sardines for opening as prizes, dead BR sandwiches, rosaries, devotional leaflets and similar.. ..)


PAUL, bishop, servant of the servants of God, for the future memory hereof.

At the beginning of this our pontificate,--which, not for any merits of our own, but of its own great goodness, the providence of Almighty God hath committed unto us,--already perceiving unto what troubled times, and unto how many embarrassments in almost all our affairs, our pastoral solicitude and watchfulness were called; we would fain indeed have remedied the evils wherewith the Christian commonweal had been long afflicted, and well-nigh overwhelmed; but we too, as men compassed with infirmity, felt our strength unequal to take upon us so heavy a burthen. For, whereas we saw that peace was needful to free and preserve the commonweal from the many impending dangers, we found all replete with enmities and dissensions; and, above all, the (two) princes, to whom God has entrusted well-nigh the whole direction of events, at enmity with each other. Whereas we deemed it necessary that there should be one fold and one shepherd, for the Lord's flock in order to [Page 2] maintain the Christian religion in its integrity, and to confirm within us the hope of heavenly things; the unity of the Christian name was rent and well-nigh torn asunder by schisms, dissensions, heresies. Whereas we could have wished to see the commonwealth safe and guarded against the arms and insidious designs of the Infidels, yet, through our transgressions and the guilt of us all,--the wrath of God assuredly hanging over our sins,--Rhodes had been lost; Hungary ravaged; war both by land and sea had been contemplated and planned against Italy, Austria, and Illyria; whilst our impious and ruthless enemy the Turk was never at rest, and looked upon our mutual enmities and dissensions as his fitting opportunity for carrying out his designs with success. Wherefore, having been, as we have said, called upon to guide and govern the bark of Peter, in so great a tempest, and in the midst of so violent an agitation of the waves of heresies, dissensions, and wars; and, not relying sufficiently on our own strength, we, first of all, cast our cares upon the Lord, that He might sustain us, and furnish our soul with firmness and strength, our understanding with prudence and wisdom.

etc , with a great many further trials..

Pastor in Valle said...

You're right, of course. In a sense, the secular media are doing our own job for us right now, only with harsh ammonia and a steel wire scrubbing brush. And inevitably, those who don't deserve to suffer are made to suffer the most.

Mac McLernon said...

I do hope you will return to the Blogosphere soon...

berenike said...

There's a congregation in England whose scandalous private life is crying out for exposure, there's the treatment of an innocent member to protect a guilty one by another one also screaming for justice to be done, there're ... and yet, as you say, we can't write about it.