The L’Osservatore Romano Fallout

Friday, November 26, AD 2010

Here’s a roundup of articles highlighting the mess the the Vatican’s semi-official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, has done:

Pope & the Great Condom Conundrum – Chris Blosser, The Amrcn Cthlc

NCReporter Getting Condom Conundrum Wrong – Fr. Z WDTPRS?

The Continuing Mess at L’Osservatore Romano – Dr. Ed Peters, ItLotL

The Vatican Newspaper Has Betrayed the Pope – Phil Lawler, Cth Cltr

Cthlcs, Journos Want Firings at L’Osservatore Romano – H. White, LSN

In Defense of L’Osservatore Romano – John L. Allen Jr., All Things Cthlc

Are You Kidding Me John Allen? – Tito Edwards, The American Catholic

More on the Condom Conundrum itself:

New Developments on the Pope & Condoms – Jimmy Akin, NCRegister

Jimmy Akin, Pope & Magisterium – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Did the Pope Actually Say We May Use Condoms? – M. Brumley, LOTW

Did Pope “Justify” Condom Use? – Fr. Fessio, Cth Wrld Rep

Pope Benedict Doubles Down on Condoms – Brett Salkeld, Vox Nova

Pope Changes Catholic Faith Completely! – Mark P. Shea, InsideCatholic

Is Ed Peters A Shill? – Steve Kellmeyer, The Fifth Column

Condoms, Catholicism and Casuistry – Ross Douthat, New York Times

A Good Clarification On Pope’s Condom Conundrum – Fr. Z., WDTPRS?

(Hat Tip:

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Are You Kidding Me John Allen?

Wednesday, November 24, AD 2010

John L. Allen Jr., otherwise referred to in most circles as John Allen, is the prolific writer for the dissident Catholic newspaper National Catholic Reporter has come out defending L’Osservatore Romano in the recent Pope Condom Comments controversy.

John Allen laid the blame clearly on orthodox/conservative Catholic bloggers for “jealousy, politics, and dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave.” referring to critics of L’Osservatore Romano and its editor Gian Maria Vian, of which I am one of those critics.

Mr. Allen, by “dated expectations of how the Vatican paper ought to behave”, do you mean as in defending Church teaching and not embarrassing the pope at all costs?

Are you kidding me?

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14 Responses to Are You Kidding Me John Allen?

  • I would call this post outrageous, but it is so over-the-top that it seems just plain silly instead. John Allen is generally respected by Catholic commentators of all stripes, and his comments about “Taliban Catholicism” did not refer to “practicing Catholics” but to Catholics who direct inflammatory nonsense like this at their fellow Christians.

  • Ron,

    Just par for the course of your nonsensical comments.

  • Why heterodoxy failed . . .

    By even-handed, do you mean Mr. John listed a positive for every detraction of Opus Taliban?

    I wouldn’t waste my eyesight or time . . .

  • Use of the phrase “Taliban Catholics”, a common enough phrase on the Catholic Left, indicates that Mr. Allen knows little about the Taliban, and that his prejudices are what one might expect from someone who writes for the birdcage liner called the National Catholic Reporter. Of course what truly upsets him I think is that Catholic bloggers are eclipsing the readership of rags like the National Catholic Reporter that used to have a virtual monopoly in attempting to shape Catholic opinion in this country. No matter how many unread copies of the National Catholic Reporter are ordered by leftists priests, and the chancery staffs of leftist bishops, they simply cannot compete in aggregate readership with the Catholic blogs, most of which are orthodox. Allen’s comment is the lament of the buggy whip manufacturer as more of those horseless carriages are clogging the roads.

  • For the record, I consider myself orthodox and do not think I would fall under Mr. Allen’s “Taliban Catholicism.” Now, there may be a few on the distant right who think I’m a heretic, but they’re pretty rare birds. It seems he’s referring to more than just orthodoxy here.

    Whether using a loaded term like “Taliban” to make his point was a good move is, however, another debate.

  • Allen is usually good when writing about the Vatican, but when it comes to writing about the American scene in Catholicism he has a tendency to get all tribal in defense of his fellow National Catholic Reporter writers. How one gets off seeing the Mark Sheas and Fr Zs of the world as “Taliban” while having not beef with his fellow columnists like Chittister, McBrian and Winters (who are prone to far more frequent accusations that their fellow Catholics aren’t real Catholics and do so from a dissident psotion to boot) escapes me.

    In this case, that’s compounded with Allen being of the brand of Catholic which while not dissident would clearly like to see Church teaching on birth control be more “open” — and some such seem to have deceived themselves that this particular blunder by LOS indicates this is coming.

    Honestly, though, that site is just hard to read. I’d read Allen’s first piece on the issue, which was good, and the comment boxes were 90% 60s bitter Enders lashing out at the pope, with many of them accusing him of being “clearly obsessed” with male prostitutes. I think beyond a certain point, one’s readership is indicative. If you’re mostly read by people who hate the Church, there’s something wrong with what you’re doing.

  • Brett,

    I wouldn’t sweat it about where you fall in this category.

    The bottom line is that Mr. Allen should have never even uttered the world “Taliban Catholicism” for whatever reason.

    The AP picked it up and clearly planted in the camp of Catholics that love Jesus and His Bride.

  • The term “Taliban” may not be the most fortuitous, but I’d sure like a word other than “conservative” to tell the difference between Michael Voris and Robert Barron, between Steve Kellmeyer and Matthew Kelly. Any suggestions?

  • Donald,
    I also find the comboxes under Allen a little frustrating, but I think he’s managed to pull off something important; namely, not always preaching to the choir. Sometimes insisting on only writing for audiences that already agree with us is a little like putting the lamp under the bushel basket.
    A lot of the time high ratings for a blog indicate its tribal nature, not its evangelical possibilities.

  • “The term “Taliban” may not be the most fortuitous”

    That will do as the understatement of the day on this blog until something better comes along.

    As to what to call one’s adversaries, I always prefer something that actually fits them. “Taliban Catholics” is purely insulting, since no Catholics on the blogosphere that I am aware of have embraced suicide bombing or any of the other charming manifestations of that Afghanistani political/religious movement. School yard insults against one’s opponents are good for venting purposes, but for little else.

  • I’ll take understatement over overstatement when I can help it. 😉

    I’m not sure it’s much to do with adversaries. The thing about Catholics like Barron and Kelly is that they don’t frame their Catholicism in terms of how wrong everyone else is. They’re precisely non-adversarial and they’re perfectly orthodox, I daresay moreso than Voris or Kellmeyer. Not that Voris or Kellmeyer consciously dissent, but it is very easy to say something out of step with the tradition when you are more intent on pursuing your enemy than seeking understanding.

    Hmm, maybe the word for such Catholics should be “adversarial.” I’m really quite sick of letting them steal “orthodox” out from under the rest of us.

  • If Allen simply wanted to complain about the approach of folks like Voris (which I would consider legit) a term like Gonzo Catholicism would suffice and be far more accurate it seems to me. What makes “Taliban Catholicism” particularly offensive is that it manages to neatly package a whole set of prejudices (that people are irrational, ignorant, fundamentalist, prone to violence, hate women, likely to commit stonings and beheadings, etc.) in one neat package which gains instant support from an anti-religious stereotype which the New Atheists have been at pains to create about religion in general and traditional religion in particular. That Allen chose to use the term in a secular outlet where he could better harness those anti-religious prejudices strikes me as particularly bad.

    On can hardly blame people for feeling that this represented a nasty case of playing for the other side.

    And, of course, there’s a rather nasty irony to attacking people who you ink are too quick to try to discredit the orthodoxy of others as “Taliban”, since this is, effectively, attacking their own orthodoxy and taking things to a higher level as well.

    On the diversity of opinion point — I certainly don’t think one should try to foster a readership of only those who already agree with you. But at the same time, it strikes me that if a Catholic periodical’s readership is made up almost entirely of those who disagree with at least some of the Church’s teachings to the point of scorn and really hate the pope (so much that the first thing that jumped into many of these commenter’s heads was to imply that the pope frequented male prostitutes) this might suggest that people with these feelings find something about your periodical rather congenial. And if you care about the Church, you might want to consider what those elements might be and change them.

    By analogy: if for some reason my writing seemed to have drawn a huge number of white supremacist readers, I would consider it a moral requirement that I examine my writing and see if I was somehow doing something that appealed to these people’s errors. If I failed to do so, I would be implicitly supporting them.

  • Gonzo Catholicism? I like that.

  • Also, I don’t think Allen is the one drawing the crazies to read his publication. On the other hand, I know many like me who read his column online each week and don’t have much to do with the rest of the Reporter.

Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False

Saturday, October 31, AD 2009

[Updates at the bottom of this post.]

In what is a common occurrence that happens more than you think, the media again has done a poor job of reporting the news that emanates from the Vatican.  If it came from the Vatican at all.  The new one today is that the Catholic Church condemns Halloween, or some variation there of.

Various news outlets have reported that the Pope, the Catholic Church, or the Vatican have condemned, blasted, slammed, or as the Times of London said, “reserved their venom for the millions of parents who allowed their children to celebrate this “pagan” festival.”

And people say anti-Catholicism doesn’t exist?

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7 Responses to Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False

  • I’m kinda curious how folks are celebrating Halloween in Spain, that they were able to find two quotes that could be shoe-horned into this story.

    The Times story says:
    José Sánchez González, the Bishop of Sigüenza-Guadalajara, in central Spain, went further, suggesting that Hallowe’en parties had a “background of the occult and anti-Christianity”. He said that he saw the dark influence of Hollywood playing with the young minds of Spanish children as they danced innocently around pumpkins, little realising that they were attending a pagan festival.

    “Due to this influence, Hallowe’en started being celebrated several years ago and it is spreading more and more, without people knowing what it is that they are celebrating,” he said.

    Sounds to me like they might actually have a problem– same way that the GB Christian group they quote to support their article is trying to deal with the real problems of vandalism and kids getting hit by cars while they’re out trick or treating.

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  • And who wrote this article “Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False” ?? There is no author under the title … so we don’t know who to respond to, but going to the Contributors list, I realized that not one of the contributors is a Church Official or a priest. So, how could YOU be the authority on what the Church teaches? I would rather go with the priest from Spain than your opinions. Hope you can find the Truth and discern spirits .. especially during this time of occult and satanic rituals.

  • So, how could YOU be the authority on what the Church teaches?

    The Church publishes her binding teachings, and I don’t mean in a newspaper.

    Thus, it’s not a matter of the person posting having authority or not– it’s a matter of truth, which requires no authority to share.

    It doesn’t matter if someone is a Priest or “Church Official,” if they’re saying something is true when it isn’t, or if they’re being quoted as “the Vatican says” when it’s their view.

    (BTW, while there isn’t an author listed, you could go to the trackback right above your comment, go through and notice the first comment there is “Bravo, Tito.”)

  • I would rather go with the priest from Spain than your opinions.

    So that means I can follow whatever Richard McBrien says? After all, he’s a priest and dresses like one when he’s on TV.