Monday 17 March 2014

Catholic Blogs: My Thoughts

I have not written this post in defence of any particular blog that has closed, or address it to any particular Bishop who asks that a blog be closed. Rather, I am writing it because blogs do close at the request of their Bishop, and that brings me to ask what I, as a blogger, am about, and how long I think I should continue to blog.

For me, blogs are a way of communicating ones thoughts, feelings, reactions etc. Running a blog brings one both affirmation and challenge and as such, can be very growth-producing. However, writing a Catholic blog in order “to contend for the faith that was once and for all entrusted to God's holy people” (Jude.1v3) has an added reality which brings with it an ever-present danger. The reality is that Catholic blogging can be a holy work if it does the truth in charity (Eph.4v15); the ever-present danger is that if blogging is not done with charity it can become a work of the enemy (though harsh words may be required to halt a train in its tracks: doing the truth in charity does not equate with being a sparrow when an eagle is needed...). Surely bloggers must always seek to do a holy work; to defend and proclaim the Truth in charity? I think this is certainly true of clerical bloggers who tend to measure their words carefully and avoid detraction of any persons whose words or deeds they consider inconsistent with the Faith.

Now the Faith has been “delivered once for all”. Nothing may be removed from the Sacred Deposit; nothing can be added to it or altered within it, and development of it must never veer into distortion so that what was once held is no longer held or what was once repudiated is now accepted. Further, the Faith is “delivered to the saints”; it belongs to the whole people of God, right back to those alive in Apostolic times. It is not the property of one generation to do with as they please -much less is it the property of Popes and Bishops who serve God (and the saints) by guarding the Sacred Deposit.

If Popes, Bishops, Priests (or prominent Catholic laypersons) compromise by word or deed the Faith delivered to the saints, they must be prepared to be challenged; to be called to account by ‘saints’ loyal to the Sacred Deposit (not to those who share their compromise in word or in deed). But bloggers who provide the challenge must do so in charity if they are to do a holy work; they must be careful to criticise positions and acts, not persons. Yet persons -be they Pope, Bishop, Priest or prominent lay Catholic- must not take offence when they are identified with their words or deeds, because holding a sacred office cannot exclude one from criticism of the way that office is discharged: public office inherently leaves one open to public refute. Indeed, we are obliged to challenge (Lumen gentium, 37) for the sake of the Truth.

Similarly, Traditional Catholic bloggers must also be open to challenge, but they should not be assailed if they are “doing the truth in charity”, because to assail Truth is to assail Christ. That said, clerical bloggers who lack charity in their posts or allow uncharitable comments to go unedited, may require suppression by ecclesiastical authority for the sake of Charity, and to defend a person’s good name. Such use of authority could be called a holy act. However, when a blog avoids criticism of persons to question and condemn only positions and acts, suppression of that blog by ecclesiastical authority becomes a work of the Father of Lies, who is always behind any attempt to suppress Truth.

I think all bloggers must take care to do the truth in charity; to criticise positions and acts but never persons. Similarly, I think ecclesiastical authorities must take care not to suppress blogs simply because they do not like to see themselves or others called to account. Such suppression would be an abuse of authority which is “given unto edification and not unto destruction” (2.Cor.10v8; 13v10). At the end of the day, blog-writing is not about freedom of speech, it is about the defence and promulgation of the Truth, even by charitable challenge. 

PS While we have to be very respectful in challenging Popes, and certainly respectful of their person, we have every right to follow the example of St Catherine of Sienna and challenge a Pope whose words or deeds seem to us to be off-side.


  1. Father,thanks for this post,but please put me right.What if the truth is not charitable,must we sacrifice truth for the sake of charity?

    1. Thank you for this.
      We should not need to sacrifice truth for the sake of charity; speaking the truth is the act of charity, even if it offends -not to speak the truth is not charity in that it is not good for the soul of the one considered to be in error. I think that we have to speak the Truth respectfully without disrespecting the person, but it has to be spoken.

    2. Truth and charity are never in opposition - they are one.

    3. Indeed, Lynda. Thank you for that.
      I don't know how anyone can divide God as they regularly do today by implying it is wither truth or charity; justice or mercy. St Paul's demand that we do the truth in charity has been sacrificed on the altar of today's so-called 'pastoral care'.
      God Bless.


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