Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Catholic Weekly Muck Raking

I had someone phone me this morning rather distressed and concerned that a so called "Catholic" weekly, that has a reputation for criticising the Pope and  his works, was doing a muck raking exercise trying to dig up dirt on Catholic clergy's private lives. They are apparently focussing on the Ordinariate; presumably as yet another way of attacking the Pope, by contacting  former Anglican colleagues, many of whom have a reputation for detraction and gossip, who for obvious reasons wish to spread rumours about those who have swum the Tiber.

I don't know if this has been commissioned by the editor, or is just a freelance journalist who wishes to sell a story but recently we have had a Prince of the Church having been forced to write a letter denying gossip reported by the same weekly, that would seriously have damaged his reputation for confidentiality. Though they published his letter of denial, they refused to retract what they had placed in the public domain.

A few years ago in Scotland someone published on the internet a calumnious list of clergy suggesting they were not faithful to their promise of celibacy, it damaged many innocent priest's reputations. I hope that this weekly is not going to show itself the News of the World of Catholic publishing, if they do then I hope that any clergy whose reputation is damaged will pursue them through the courts.

The problem is when these things are started they tend to grow. There are always rumours and gossip in any Church -more so in the CofE than the Catholic Church- but if one wishes to pollute one's heart and listen to such things, there are even rumours about members of the episcopal bench, but how dreadful if we took such things seriously; calumny is a very serious sin.


The Thirsty Gargoyle said...

Well said. This isn't a good road for any Catholic periodical to be going down... not least because of the ripple effects which taint the naive and the innocent as well as the guilty.

. said...

It's curious how "giving scandal" often seems to be something only other people do. The Confiteor, apparently, does not cover muck-raking.

And the most interesting part of this is that it has no relation to whether one is trad or liberal; everyone does it.

Almost as if sin had very little to do with which Mass you go to... as if it was ingrained somehow in everyone. Funny, that.

Ttony said...

Nothing to worry about, Father. If it claims to be "Catholic" and does anything like that, it will be banned from every Catholic Church in England and Wales forthwith.

(Tamworth and Gloucester Old Spot noted at 1000 feet.)

Pablo the Mexican said...

My question is, "Why does anyone let a dog get that close?"

And while we are at it, "What was the dog licking just before licking someone's face?"



LTD said...

I remember the reply of Pope Pius XI to a cardinal when he related to the Holy Father an unflattering story about a fellow prelate.
"Surely Your Eminence pays no attention to what is said about others. Were we (the Pope) to listen to what is said about you, Your Eminence, you would no longer be a cardinal."

Gigi said...

Well said Father Ray. People should be particularly careful about throwing such stones when hiding behind precious stained glass windows! Whenever there's a "witchhunt", innocents always get burned.
@ Pablo: really!! :)

Edward Robinson said...

Like anyone cares? even the secular press have stopped doing the gay vicar/priest headlines. However, if it keeps a few clerics on the straight and narrow it might do some good.

Gigi said...

Oh and as there's no other post to attach it to - I hope you and St MM's had a lovely feast day service on Sunday. I did remember to put "Congrats" ro you for the day on my blog: of course I said you were a formidable blogger and I included your link! (Not that you need the publicity Father!)

Anonymous said...

The paper is not named for obvious
reasons but we all know which one it is and it is about time it ceased publishing unless it can publish good old catholic news

Anonymous said...

I'm saddened and offended that you chose to put that image at the top of your article.
I've no idea to which publication you are referring but I suggest it be regarded as beneath contempt, and ignored.
I look forward to positive and uplifting articles ahead.
With caring thoughts and prayers.
[Valerie, NZ]

Sharon said...

I read this on a blog yesterday in relation to Michael Voris no longer being able to use the word "Catholic" for his TV programme:

The Roman Catholic Church's current Code of Canon Law states that “no undertaking is to claim the name 'Catholic'” without authorization.
If that is correct why are so many dissident organisations publications etc able to use the word "Catholic" with impunity?

I found the picture which accompanied the article idstasteful.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Father: I am not sure about the picture!

However whether it be detraction or calumny this is not the only example of muck-raking which may rebound upon those responsible but more likely be damaging to the Church as it will be seen as homophobic witch hunting in the eyes of those outside the Church.

mikesview said...

Yes, I too found the image distasteful, but isn't that just the point - the entire subject is distasteful, but if this picture jolts people into actually DISCUSSING it, then it will have done something useful, i.e., forcing a DISCUSSION about this 'elephant in the living room'.

FrBT said...


I find the picture amusing albeit naughty.

Many times in the past have I heard gossip which damages not only reputations but also damages the hearts of people. Such gossip is a mortal sin without any doubt in my mind. Many times I have seen tears as a result of such words.

Negative words which describe or paint a character or reputation of a person ought to be treated with care. If someone intends on damaging a person they will have no boundries and no morals.

As for the tabloid that refers to itself as Catholic - well as I have said before, no person will find here, NOT IN MY PARISH.

I have just returned from my vacation. It was peaceful and I was blessed with warm sunshine for three weeks.

I understand that here many people were considering building Noah's Ark again.


jonty said...

Love the picture! (lighten up folks).

Et Expecto said...

My suggestion is to ask everyone who sees copies of this infamous journal being sold at the back of a church to petition the parish priest to cancel his order.

Gigi said...

Well said Fr BT: I echo the sentiments.
And surely the whle point of the picture of a hound sniffing around "private business" is to illustrate how distasteful and downright mucky the whole thing is? Certainly caught the attention!

amator Dei said...

Since you are only reporting what someone has said to you and the other commenters give no solid information either, are you so sure that you are not doing some muck-raking yourself? Your and other Catholic blogs spend a lot of time and effort on dishing dirt against The Tablet and banging on about how unCatholic it is. I don't know if you are aware of how much ordinary Catholics who have no axe to grind are repelled by the viciousness and vituperativeness of traditionalist Catholic blogs. They alao wonder what is so wonderful about being Catholic when the Church's reputation following the abuse scandal is pretty much mud. If we could all accept that we are trying to be faithful to the mystery of God and therefore bound to disagree on some things, we might perhaps be able to live together reasonably charitably, as e.g. Franciscans and Dominicans in the Middle Ages did without wanting to vilify each other as heretics. Odium theologicum is one of the most odious sins of religious people.

Nicolas Bellord said...

amator dei: It is curious how you make general accusations about viciousness and vituperativeness of traditionalist Catholic blogs. without being specific. Perhaps you could give us a specific example.

The problem with discussing muck-raking is that it is difficult to discuss what is going on without giving publicity to what muck is being raked up and thus furthering the detraction and calumny.

amator Dei said...

Mr. Bellord, what I find curious is that you seem unaware of what Catholic blogs or the comments on them are like. For a specific example try reading the Catholic Herald's current piece on prophecies of Our Lady of Quito and the 80+ (!) comments it attracted.
What is also curious in this case is that The Tablet is reported by somebody else to have been muck-raking and this is taken at face value without saying what it is alleged to have said!
I would also say that priests and others in public positions can expect their actions to be reported in a free society. Don't forget that if the secular media had not reported priestly abuse of children it is unlikely that the Church authorities would ever have done anything about it, seeing that they did nothing but cover it up when left to their own devices.

Fr Kevin said...

Isn't this type of journalism precisely what Ms Curti did in Blackfen?
Isn't this type of journalism why Bobby Mickens hangs around the bars of Porta S. Anna - and why he is avoided?
It is certainly why at least one writer no longer writes for this publication; they are nasty.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Amator Dei: You were concerned about “ the viciousness and vituperativeness of traditionalist Catholic blogs “ and referred me to a particular discussion about Our Lady of Quito. In fact I have followed that discussion and contributed to it. Unfortunately people who comment on blogs often just make ad hominem attacks and insult people without producing any reasoned argument against the views of those they are attacking. I am not sure whether you are implying that the viciousness and vituperativeness come from Catholic traditionalists rather than the liberals.

I have looked through the discussion you mention and tried to analyse where objectionable comments have arisen.

The discussion starts with a contribution from Occonnord in support of Dawkins. He gets immediate support from one Judithjmidwinter who would appear to be a freethinker. Jabba Papa responds with some rather forcible arguments. Tonymaloney backs both up with insults.

But even before that conversation got started but after Occonnords initial contribution, AlexanderVI puts Mr Oddie into the same bracket as Archbishop Williamson of holocaust denial fame.

The Rev Gerry Reilly (an RC priest converted to Anglicanism) complains that Our Lady of Fatima did not name all the horrors in the world specifically e.g. Congo, Angola etc and implies it is rubbish anyway followed by a general attack on the Church.

Back comes Judithjmidwinter complaining that the Church ignores every big issue except sex and goes on to say we all need psychiatric treatment.

The Rev Gerry Reilly then complains “Why cannot the acolytes of Mr Oddie engage in a civilised Christian debate without flinging insults.” Now that is a standard tactic. Up to that point I cannot see that any of Mr Oddie's supporters have insulted anyone. But this does not stop Judithjmidwinter being appalled and calling the blog atrocious with a series of insults. Occonnord says we are all suffering from cognitive dissonance and Judithjmidwinter replies that we are all on the far right.

Parasum then appears and calls JPII a wrecker and blames the clergy for spreading every error that has troubled the Church and later says all this stuff about visions is just wishful thinking and inanities. He is well known for trying to spread errors himself! Judithjmidwinter chimes in to inform us that Mother Teresa was a fanatic, fundamentalist and a fraud.

Occonnord informs us that the Church trepanned all those suffering from mental illness. Daclamat calls Mr Oddie's article guff and that he must be on Speed. Occonnord thinks it more likely to be LSD.

Karlf finishes the discussion by accusing Mr Oddie of dishonest nonsense in attacking Dawkins.

In between all this a sensible discussion does take place and these interventions above are irritating. But from where are these insults and vituperation coming? Certainly not from the traditionalists. Principally from people way outside the Church with the exception of Parasum whom I take to belong to the liberal wing. My feeling, in respect of other blog discussions, is that Parasum is not alone amongst liberal Catholics in making these kind of attacks but I may be wrong.

Nicolas Bellord said...

Amator dei: I think we can guess that what Father Blake is talking about are the sins of detraction and/or calumny by dragging up stories about the sex lives of those who have swum the Tiber. It has all the hallmarks of a homophobic witch hunt quite contrary to the Catechism which enjoins charity to those with homosexual leanings whilst condemning homosexual sex.

What concerns me is a similar homophobic witch hunt which has been taking place with regard to the Order of Malta and other clergy and I am very sorry to say that the Archdiocese of Westminster has given credence to such by suspending their use of their own Oratory Church.

There is the danger of getting the teaching of the catechism wrong on both counts i.e. being unkind to those with homosexual leanings as at the same time tolerating those who openly advocate homosexual sex at the Soho Masses.

By the way I worked for 40 years in a firm which dealt with clerical abuse. It is not true that every case was covered up. When we reported matters to the police or it got as far as the magistrates nobody seemed to be bothered. That was the culture at the time when PIE was active. Okay some did not take our advice or went elsewhere but we should try and promote a balanced view and not over-react. There have been false accusations which have cast a shadow over the lives of perfectly innocent priests and lay people.

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