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Quote of the Day – On Catholic Blogs

June 7, 2010

“As I talked with brother bishops in preparation for this presentation, there was consistent agreement that one aspect that is most alarming to us about media is when it becomes unchristian and hurtful to individuals.For example, we are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.”

- Bishop Gabino Zavala, USCCB communications chair.

A lesson there for all of us. (Hat tip: Rocco).

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23 Comments
  1. June 7, 2010 10:51 am

    I am troubled by Zavala’s description of the role of the Magisterium as “judg[ing] others in the church,” and by his naive use of the word “communion,” but his point is generally a good one.

  2. Rodak permalink
    June 7, 2010 11:22 am

    Is this not merely Ronald Reagan’s “Eleventh Commandment” Catholicized?

  3. Bruce in Kansas permalink
    June 7, 2010 12:46 pm

    Well timed quote!

    I have just been praying this weekend about the seeming lack of charitable comments (including my own) in Catholic dialogs, including blogs.

    The internet in general and the Catholic blogosphere in particular, is a great source of information and I have learned a great deal, but I fear, like many other good things, blogs can be mis-used, and even become for some a near occasion of sin.

  4. dan permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:33 pm

    “The internet in general and the Catholic blogosphere in particular, is a great source of information and I have learned a great deal, but I fear, like many other good things, blogs can be mis-used, and even become for some a near occasion of sin.”

    I agree. We all need to be careful and keep in mind the call to love one and other (including those we deem to be our enemies). If we strive to maintain this perspective, then our discussions and disagreements will at least show others we are charitable to others.

  5. dan permalink
    June 7, 2010 2:36 pm

    “I am troubled by Zavala’s description of the role of the Magisterium as “judg[ing] others in the church,”

    I don’t take the comments as it is the Magisterium’s role in judging other, but he is commenting that some in the new media assume the role of the Magisterium and thus feel the need/power to judge others.

    Just my take on the comment.

  6. June 7, 2010 2:52 pm

    Dan – I agree that it’s primarily a comment about blogger’s taking on the role of the Magisterium (although I don’t see this as anything new), but I’m just reading between the lines.

  7. June 7, 2010 3:00 pm

    Clearly Bishop Zavala is dead on. We can’t have people going around acting as if they are the Magisterium, issuing e-anathamas at any and all who disagree with us. That is why it is absolutely essential that we make clear to these misguided souls that their Calvinist-neocon-liberalism is completely un-Catholic; and why we must explain to baby-fetishizing Christo-fascists that they don’t worship the same God as us.

    • June 7, 2010 3:06 pm

      Clearly Bishop Zavala is dead on. We can’t have people going around acting as if they are the Magisterium, issuing e-anathamas at any and all who disagree with us.

      Of course there is too the reality that each Catholic bears personal responsibility for moral judgments, viewpoints, etc. As Catholics, we do not simply rely on the Magisterium. There is a sense in which each of us actually IS our own mini-Magisterium. That said, I’m not sure why every blogger needs to preface every post with an insistence “PLEASE DO NOT MISTAKE ME FOR THE MAGISTERIUM!”

      That is why it is absolutely essential that we make clear to these misguided souls that their Calvinist-neocon-liberalism is completely un-Catholic; and why we must explain to baby-fetishizing Christo-fascists that they don’t worship the same God as us.

      Darwin, please quit playing the role of Magisterium and telling me that I can’t identify Christo-fascism when I see it. ;)

      Seriously, though, if you would point to those comments as taking on Magisterial pretensions, then surely you can be at least a little self-critical instead of simply pointing the finger at others.

  8. Rodak permalink
    June 7, 2010 3:10 pm

    we make clear to these misguided souls that their Calvinist-neocon-liberalism is completely un-Catholic; and why we must explain to baby-fetishizing Christo-fascists that they don’t worship the same God as us.

    That sounds quite a lot like an “e-anathema” to me, DC.

    • June 7, 2010 3:15 pm

      That sounds quite a lot like an “e-anathema” to me, DC.

      Rodak – DC is making fun of MM and I, saying that we pronounce “e-anathemas,” although he will not look in his mirror.

  9. June 7, 2010 4:08 pm

    Right, Michael. I said above that there is a lesson there for all of us, and I meant it. But come on, Vox Nova is pretty fringe when it comes to the American Catholic blogosphere (while we are typically more aligned with global Catholicism..ironic!). The “average” American Catholic blog looks pretty much like American Catholic, American Papist etc. These are the problems. These are the ones on the radar. These are the ones that regularly issue anathemas – and typically for political rather than theological heresy at that!

  10. M.Z. permalink
    June 7, 2010 4:49 pm

    Reading between the lines, what is actually being criticized is the criticism of bishops and the USCCB. I would like to think that the bishop gives two farts about what some blogger thinks about another blogger, but my ego isn’t big enough. In most cases, this is a fair criticism. On the other hand, there is substantive criticism that should be addressed, heaven forfend, substantively.

  11. June 7, 2010 4:52 pm

    although he will not look in his mirror.

    Exactly. Gate swings both ways.

  12. Kyle R. Cupp permalink
    June 7, 2010 5:20 pm

    Very interesting reading, MZ.

    • M.Z. permalink
      June 7, 2010 6:45 pm

      What can I say? I’m a little bitter from the health care debate. When bishops and the USCCB press office question the faithfulness and fidelity of people like Sister Keegan for disagreeing with them over an empirical matter, not an issue of faith, I just have to confess to finding it all a little disingenuous. I guess I have to hold my breath before a bishop or the USCCB takes Arroyo and Thiessen to task. The best we can hope for apparently are indirect statements, which the larger statement was against EWTN and similar outlets like Lifesite News. The condemnation was so indirect that the targeted parties likely don’t recognize themselves.

  13. June 7, 2010 5:26 pm

    Yes, there was a bit of making fun going on, I must admit.

    In addition to that, however, I think there’s a serious point worth making, which is in disagreement with the bishop’s point. (And is, I will admit, if MM would like, classically liberal in tinge.)

    What seems to be concerning Bishop Zavala here is that blogs, being a totally unsupervised, unofficial form of “new media”, are nonetheless causing division by issuing judgements as to the Catholicity of people, ideas, practices, etc. I think there’s some validity to this, and I can see why, as those tasked with being shepherds of the Church in America, the bishops would be concerned about people trying to claim to speak for the Church in some sort of teaching capacity, but doing so in an unsupervised fashion. So I can see some value in reminding Catholic bloggers that they are speaking as Catholics, not speaking as the Church.

    At the same time, however, I don’t like the idea of the bishops trying to reign in the Catholic blogsphere. The Church can have a tendency to be rather authoritarian about communication, and while there may be some arguments for this in “official” Church media organs and in regards to classes/lectures taught under the auspices of the diocese, I wouldn’t want to see similar restrains put on blogs and other cases of Catholics writing about Catholicism in a non-authoritative fashion.

    Also, to be honest, I can’t help wondering if part of the issue here is criticism of the bishops — something which is certainly done to excess at times, but is also at times important and deserved.

  14. Kevin permalink
    June 7, 2010 7:06 pm

    MM,

    while we are typically more aligned with global Catholicism

    Do you mean like West European Catholicism? Since the majority of Catholics are in the southern hemisphere (Africa and Latin America) which I believe tend to align in the more “conservative” (as defined by common usage) not the blogger world.

    • June 7, 2010 10:14 pm

      Since the majority of Catholics are in the southern hemisphere (Africa and Latin America) which I believe tend to align in the more “conservative” (as defined by common usage) not the blogger world.

      Far too simplistic. To say that the churches of the South (which indeed is increasingly the face of the World Church as Christianity in the North dies) are simply “conservative” is to impose a category on them from the perspective of the North, especially the u.s.a. There certainly are “conservative” aspects in the churches of the South, and have been since the colonial period. But it is important to think about why that has been the case. Latin American and other theologies from the South have done a good job with this and have been thinking about these things for decades. It is also important to consider the presence of non-conservative expressions of Christianity there. The very irruption of liberation theologies for example. Also in the mix is the fact that Protestantism is growing, particularly Pentecostalism which is not easily mappable as “liberal” or “conservative,” and again we need to ask why this shift is happening. Finally, the role of brute power in the South is also something we can’t overlook — power expressed in the heavy-handedness of Rome in dealing with irruptions in the church there, as well as the power expressed by right wing governments suppressing liberation movements in general and Christian ones in particular. An attempt was made to literally exterminate liberation movements in Latin America, for example, an attempt that had both political-military and ecclesiastical dimensions. There is simply much more to be said and much more to consider than the assertion “the churches of the South are conservative” can handle.

  15. Ronald King permalink
    June 8, 2010 5:59 am

    Are the bishops afraid of criticism? Do they view criticism as unchristian and the cause of shattering the communion of the Church?
    Once again, another example that they lack the social experience needed to gain knowledge in how to relate to those who disagree with them.
    Instead, why couldn’t the bishop state that there needs to be a way to directly engage with those who attack the church in order to clarify the specific nature of the attack and work towards a mutual resolution to the particular problem initiating the attack.

  16. Paul DuBois permalink
    June 8, 2010 8:06 am

    I think the real point here is to always comment and act from a charitable point of view. There are Catholic blogs I seldom read because of a lack of this. The Bishop is asking that we all (bloggers and commentors alike) try to base our comments on Church teaching, the primary responsibilty for which rests with the Magisterium. This is supposed to be what sets the Catholic church apart, a consistant line of teaching from the apostles to today’s bishops.

  17. June 8, 2010 9:17 am

    Michael knows Latin America better than me, but I think Catholics in the global south tend to combine stricter sexual teachings with a very strong sense of social justice – this is certainly the case in Africa.

  18. Rodak permalink
    June 8, 2010 10:34 am

    Isn’t that what Liberation Theology is all about?

  19. dan permalink
    June 8, 2010 9:55 pm

    “There is simply much more to be said and much more to consider than the assertion “the churches of the South are conservative” can handle.”

    Agree…our brothers and sisters “south of the equator” have a far different perspective to health, security, peace, material comfort, etc. then most of us.

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