Sunday, June 27, 2010

Communication Breakdown

I thought I'd get in before Damaen Thompson and flag up this post from the excellent Splintered Sunrise, which deals with the problem of the Church's communication breakdown.
... I can’t be alone in reading the papers and seeing all sorts of material from, say, Christopher Hitchens or Johann Hari or Peter Tatchell that isn’t actually true, and wondering how on earth they get away with it. The answer to that, of course, is that they aren’t challenged. Then you had the episode during the passage of the Children, Schools and Families Bill, when Ed Balls went on the Today programme and not only said that Catholic schools should be required to provide information on accessing abortions, and in a non-judgemental way at that, but actually claimed that Archbishop Nichols agreed with him. In the absence of any rebuttal from the ABW, some silly people may have been misled into the thinking that +Vinnie actually did agree with Balls, as opposed to agreeing with the Pope.
It strikes me as being so odd that the very organisation commissioned by God himself to "communicate", is so bad at it!


Dominic Mary said...

Frankly, rather than 'Catholic Voices', I think the Hierearchy should just hand the business of communicating - and responding to the nonsense which fills the media - to the Dominicans.

Can you imagine Christoper Hitchens facing up to Aidan Nicholls, for instance ? Or Peter Tatchell v Thomas Crean ?

They're the people with the skills, and the vocation, to deal with this problem : all they need is to be asked to do it.

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

Yeah well they can't communicate with their parishioners coz they're all cloak & dagger! I can't understand why they don't transparently speak the truth all of you priests up!

Independent said...

At least there will be no danger of misunderstanding the proposed British Ambassador to the Holy See, her communications should be very much to the point.

Zephyrinus said...

Dear Fr. Ray. An excellent Post on the "Communication" issues [or LACK of them] that befall the Catholic Church in the British Isles, these days. May I suggest that this issue is CRYING OUT for some urgent ACTION from the Vatican ? As sure as eggs are eggs, there won't be any ACTION from our leaders in these Isles. [Please, please, prove me wrong.] By the way, Fr, may I wish Mac, (of the famous Blog "Mulier Fortis"), many Happy Returns Of The Day, tomorrow, for her birthday. Eat lots of cream cakes and glasses of champagne, Mac !!!

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

Hmm...I will say though that I've never lived in an English speaking country before that uses Catholicism and the word Catholic as representative of some sort of secular infidel - maybe it's the anti-Catholic history here (did anyone see how they called the budget 'Catholic' on BBC one the other night? Political leverage requires an enemy and it's no longer kosher to hate any one except...well except Catholics (apparently only 10 percent of english pop (there is some useful info in Heart speaks unto Heart). The political equation I learned in politics 101 is problem-reaction-solution meaning if you want to reach a desired 'solution' you first need to sell a problem to people no matter how much of a lie it is - the point being that people without any integrity are better at this sort of 'communication'.

nickbris said...

There are any number of reasons why only one side of a discussion gets into the Garbage Press.

For all we know anything remotely Pro-Catholic has a D notice slapped on it.

The establishment is Anti Catholic and it's as simple as that.

gemoftheocean said...

If the ARchbishop is so flat out lazy as to not demand a retraction, he should hand in his resignation and get out, because he's not doing the right thing. He should step to the rear and allow someone else to "man up."

Nothing WORSE than a leader who will not lead. I have been told that people applying for the priesthood are made to undergo a physical exam, not only to check their physical health, but also to ensure that those entering the seminary are, in fact, men.

It would be nice if before they became bishops, there was a requirement to RE-Check, because it seems abundently clear that in many cases the bishops are physically incapable of following through with testicular fortitude.

Francis said...

Fr. Ray,

The bishops feel completely hamstrung by the abuse scandals. They just want the priest-as-predator headlines to go away.

To start a ding-dong battle with the new atheists or gay militants means being in the headlines all the time, and having the mud of the abuse scandals constantly thrown back in their faces whenever they try to defend the Church. So they've chosen the safe option -- hiding themselves away in the upper room.

PS: I completely agree with Dominic Mary's point about the Dominicans. Where are the Albigensians now, eh?

Fr Ray Blake said...

But Francis,
Even before the "scandals" we were rubbish at communicating!

Anagnostis said...


Unless your intention is to hand a massive club to the enemies of the Catholic Church that they might otherwise have overlooked, you'd be well advised to leave out any mention of the Albigensians.

nickbris said...

When the British Government are "up against it" as they appear to be at the moment they are capable of all sorts of nonsense,Catholics have always been a good target.

Gandhi got plenty of stick in the Garbage Press and so did Nelson Mandela,Jomo Kenyatta,Robert Mugabe and any other Right Minded Individual.

Catholics have always been an easy target because we are taught from birth to love one another and treat all Human Life as Sacred.

Abortionists are making fortunes with all their brain-washing propaganda and the only defence against these diabolical HEATHEN is the teaching of Christ through Catholicism.

Angelo said...

The diabolical abscess of the abuse scandal will not go away - however much our leaders In England & Wales fondly hope it will.

It needs to be lanced - and the sooner the better.

The truth is that some Bishops did try to cover up these dreadful cases - and some officials in the Vatican were incompetent or worse.

But the then Cardinal Ratzinger was not one of them. He radically improved matters once he was given authority to do so.

And when he became Pope he immediately acted decisively against some very prominent and powerful clerics who had managed to conceal their evil deeds in the past.

The best way to clear the air would be for a high ranking Vatican official who has the appropriate knowledge and expertise to agree to be interviewed on prime time TV by the likes of Jeremy Paxman or Jon Snow.

georgem said...

I know I have said this before but I am sorry that anyone should believe that having a good sommunications skill involves being economical with the truth. It doesn't.
This blog is a pretty good example of how to get the message across without resorting to the tactics of sophistry/spin.
If "media untrained" priest bloggers can accomplish it, then so can the hierarchy who, by the way, are bound to have met many of the most vociferous anti-Catholics at formal functions.
What's to be afraid of? Unless you value your place in the establishment more than your flock.
We are talking of a few bullies who could so easily be routed.
Appeasement doesn't work. History.

Jacobi said...

If the bishops feel hamstrung then they are, as usual, failing us and the headlines will not go away.

The abuse scandals have been seized on gleefully by the secularist media throughout Europe.

We have adopted, or rather have had forced upon us, the stance of even one priest is too many and therefore we can only grovel and take what abuse is thrown at us. We have accepted the role of public whipping boy, without protest.

This response has been disasterous.

The problem, apparently peaking in the cultural of laxity of the
1960s to 1980s was extremely widespread, and other Churches as well as numerous secular child protection agencies had a much worse record. This is confirmed by statistical work, particularly in the United States

Firm steps have been taken within the Church, and our response should reflect this, as well as attempting to put the whole problem into perspective.
But sadly the Church's response has been passive ineptness.

We would do well to remember that the Catholic Church is not a gathering of the Holy Elect. It is a Church for all, and so by definition must contain sinners.

Anonymous said...


Your ignorance of history is showing.

Killing the albigensians was a holy act, they were so depraved.

They were truly the scum of the earth.

Even an intellectually corrupt, anti-catholic bigot like Lea was compelled to agree with the catholic church on this one, the evidence of the rectitude of the church's position being so persuasaive.

+ Wolsey

Peter said...

Communications need to be two way: the Bishops should listen to the faithful.
Note that even the Financial Services Authority has an annual public meeting where it can engage with those it regulates. It is not perfect but better than what we get now. Sounding off with a comment on your excellent blog is good but I doubt that the bishops note the points raised still less address them.
This is not a cure all but a start:

Anagnostis said...


Christians are required to die for the faith, not to kill for it. Full stop. No exceptions, no excuses, no historic "necessities".

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

I thought the albigensinian 'solution' was a case of the Nobles of the nth of France feeling mightily well inclined towards the lands in the south and so starting a 'holy war' in order to grab the pay load. The thing about rhetoric is that it always requires a platform - eg. on This Week (you can still see it on BBC 24 June at around 5.30 mins) 'this Catholic' 'bloody' budget - harking back to Mary Tudor (hello, I think at the last head count Henry and Elizabeth I would have blown Mary out of the water with infidel trophies). That bloke has a national platform to make a ridiculous analogy totatlly inappropriate and erroneous - when would a Catholic get that sort of time handed to them to make such statements? (Isn't one of the bosses of BBC a catholic? Apparently the head of religious programming is a muslim - was this piece a bit of religious or financial programming?)

Our Lady of Good Success-pray for us. said...

Mark Thompson - Director General of BBC (Tablet does have some interesting info) - they said he tried to get Pope to do a BBC or Radio 4 interview but had no success - instead a small radio station that will transmit during the visit has got (or looks likely) to have that privilage.

Independent said...

Since Anonymous(Wolsey) accuses Moretben of "ignorance of history" one may assume that he himself has a profound knowledge of ti.

Can he therefore tell us of the hard evidence from unprejudiced sources untouched by torture of his view of the Albigensians? I am not a Medieval historian and would be glad to be enlightened'

Since when also has it been right to execute for what he calls depravity or for being "the scum of the earth." In my simplicity I thought that Christ died for such people, as well as the ideological descendents of the Pharisees.

When also has killing many people for reasons of ideology been a "holy act"? Was the massacre at Beziers such?

His view of persecution is clearly not shared by Professor Eamon Duffy, perhaps the leading English Catholic historian, who tells us that Pope John Paul II "recognised the history of persecution as a blot on the Church's past,discrediting her in the eyes of the world, and hindering her task of proclaiming the Gospel of the dignity of redeemed humanity".(Duffy, "Faith of Our Fathers" p. 165.)

Anagnostis said...

I won't tire of repeating this: the greatest engine of atheism in the world is not Darwin or Hithchens or Dawkins or Hawking - it's the stupidity, ugliness and ignorance of the Gospel of "Christians".

+Wolsey (Volpius, self promoted to the episcopate?)ought to take up Islam. The depraved of Brighton are surely ripe for Jihad.

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