The editor-in-chief and director of the U.S. bishops’ official news service resigned Wednesday at the request of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference general secretary.
Tony Spence, who had worked for Catholic News Service since 2004, had publicly criticized religious freedom and bathroom privacy legislation on his Twitter feed.
The news comes mere days after the Lepanto Institute issued a report highlighting Spence’s controversial tweets, wherein he had called religious freedom laws “pro-discrimination” and “stupid.” LifeSiteNews ran an article on the report Tuesday.
“The far right blogsphere and their troops started coming after me again, and it was too much for the USCCB,” Spence told the National Catholic Reporter Thursday. “The secretary general [of the U.S. bishops’ conference] asked for my resignation, because the conference had lost confidence in my ability to lead CNS.”
NCR’s Dennis Coday writes:
Bloggers from websites of The Lepanto Institute, The Church Militant and LifeSiteNews.com posted stories in the last week that accused Spence of issuing “public statements decrying proposed legislation in several states that would protect religious freedom and deny men pretending to be women the ‘right’ to enter women’s bathrooms.”
According to the newspaper, following a meeting with Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, the general secretary of the bishops’ conference, “Spence was escorted from the conference office building without being allowed to speak to his newsroom staff.” Continue reading
When I first began to comment on blogs circa 2003, one of the Catholic blogs I frequented was Open Book run by Amy Welborn. I liked her blog because she always struck me as fair-minded and attracted a diverse and entertaining crowd of commenters, many of whom went on to illuminate Saint Blogs with blogs of their own. She seemed to me as being near the sensible center of Catholicism. I did not always agree with her, but I always respected her well-reasoned opinions that reflected a deep love of the Church. Therefore I was intrigued by a recent post of hers entitled Against Popesplaining:
Before I move on to specifics, I want to say something about discussing these issues.
And it’s time.
Well, it’s been time for a while – it’s never not been time, but, well, it’s really time now.
And it’s time to do so without the spectre of being caricatured as a a “Francis-Hater” or that you must consider yourself “One of the Greatest Catholics of All Time.” Ignore that kind of discourse. It’s lazy.
It’s time to do so without the discussion-silencing claim that any critique of the current papacy must – must – come from a fearful identification with American capitalism rather than an embrace of Catholic social teaching.
There’s also no reason to feel guilty about engaging in this discussion or – honestly – not liking Pope Francis very much. It is awesome to be in the presence of the successor of St. Peter, and it is a great gift that Jesus gave us, Peter, the Rock. But it is just a matter of historical fact that not all popes are great, popes make mistakes and sin. Respect for and value of the office does not mean we must feel caught up in emotion about any pope, even the present one.
Years ago, I was in intense email discussion with someone who was considering leaving the Church, so scandalized was he by the sexual abuse scandals. He was not personally affected, but he had intimate knowledge of it all and had to write about it. I absolutely understood his pain, because it’s pain anyone would – and should – feel. But I made this argument to him over and over:
Look. The Church we’re in is the Church that is not confined by time or space. The Church we’re in in the present moment is the Church of 42, of 477, of 1048, of 1684, of 1893. The institutional sins and failures of the present moment are real, but no less real are the sins, failures and general weirdness of the past 2000 years. Look at the history of the papacy in the 9th and 10th centuries. If you can hold onto apostolic succession after studying that chaos, then nothing else is ever going to shake you.
(Oh, it didn’t work. He left the Church. For another church, no less scandal-ridden than this one, but oh well)
This applies to the discussion at hand, as well. Frantic, defensive fear that critiquing any aspect of any recent papacy would call into question one’s faith in Christ’s gift of Petrine ministry is silly. Our discussions should be grounded in humility and an acceptance of our limited understanding, but wondering if a Pope is doing or saying the right thing does not make one an unfaithful Catholic or a sedevacantist.
The inevitable concerntrolling respone is going to be, “Sure, you can say all that, but you know that a lot of the people speaking about Pope Francis are…”
Hey, guess what?
I don’t care. Continue reading
Larry D, who blogs at Acts of the Apostasy, one of the most intentionally funny Catholic websites not named Eye of the Tiber, summarizes in Trek Speak his parting of the ways with Patheos, or, as he calls it, The Blorg. Go here to read all about it. When it comes to Patheos, Catholic bloggers need the spirit of Commander Eddington: Continue reading
Our bruin friend over at Saint Corbinian’s Bear has been on a roll lately:
Michael Voris is once again under the Bear’s scrutiny, because once again he has done something noteworthy. Since the Bear is not a Professional Broadcaster, he will go with an easy-to-understand, lawyerly chronological outline at the risk of burying the lede.
Voris’ premise is that the bad guys are playing a game of pointing fingers of blame at conservatives when conservatives criticize Pope Francis. This is a welcome clarification of his recent “Failed Papacy?” Vortex, which the Bear found impossible to understand. Voris’ premise depends upon the idea that ordinary folks follow ecclesiastical politics and care. Voris gave three examples of how this has been tried.
First: “The Letter.” The letter circulated by some prelates was spun into an attack on the Pope. Some of them who had supposedly signed it, denied signing it. Voris apparently supposes this had traction with the man on the street.
Second: “The Tumor.” There was some speculation that the story released by an Italian newspaper was planted by evil conservatives to undermine Pope Francis’ papacy, although there were never any names suggested to the Bear’s knowledge. Again, Voris imagines that people follow this sort of “inside baseball.”
Third: “The Pope’s Enemies.” Cardinal Wuerl speculates about the Pope’s enemies. Once again, people are supposed to hear this, know who Cardinal Wuerl is, and agree with him. Thus we, the good guys, take heavy damage, according to Voris.
Liberals and Modernists use these tactics because they know they work, Voris says. In secular politics, criticize President Obama and liberals will call you a racist. Similarly, criticize the Pope and Modernists will say you, well, criticized the Pope. (A quibble: America has a built-in race factor bubbling under the surface that liberals can tap into in a way Cardinal Wuerl can’t in ecclesiastical politics.)
Now the reason we should not attack the Pope is because it is a bad tactic. For this reason, according to Voris, we should attack the evil men around the Pope.
This is where it gets interesting. It reminds the Bear of the scene in Ghostbusters where Venkman tells the guy at the library, “Back off, man. I’m a scientist.” Except now it’s “Back off, man. I’m a Professional Journalist.”
First, you have to have a real theological education to detect “subtleties and nuances.”
Second, you have to have professional, secular media experience.
Why, what do you know! We’re in luck! Michael Voris has both of these qualifications. In case you have failed to connect the dots, Voris actually states Church Militant TV has these ingredients. And they’re no fly-by-night blogs sensationalizing things for a few extra clicks.
And then he immediately asks for money: to buy a Premium Membership.
So do you get this? Don’t bother with a bunch of amateurs who will hose it all up. Stick with professionals, like, why, me! It’s like the famous 1975 Daily News headline, “FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD.” Except this time it’s “VORIS TO BLOGGERS: DROP DEAD.”
(Some down time before the family heads off for Indianapolis and GenCon tomorrow morning. Had a great time in Kenosha visiting the mother-in-law. Fascinating visit to the Civil War museum in Kenosha. Details on Sunday.)
Well, Pewsitter and Eye of the Tiber square off! From Eye of the Tiber:
After close to an hour of staring at the headline he had just written about Pope Francis, an employee at the news aggregation website Pewsitter has reportedly begun questioning whether or not to add an additional exclamation point or three, sources have revealed.
The unnamed Pewsitter writer reportedly told a fellow staff member this morning that after having written his most recent headline about the Pontiff, that he wasn’t sure whether or not the headline warranted a few additional exclamation points to help convey the possible lunacy of the Pope’s most recent actions.
“He told me that he was also considering whether or not to add one or a few more question marks sprinkled in between the exclamation points to help express the fact that Pope Francis was doing something that at best could be considered odd and something out of character for a pope to do, or at worst, something completely heretical,” the source told EOTT. “You can see the stress that this news aggregation Mozart has to deal with on a daily basis to put out the works of art that that he does.”
Pewsitter links to the article, as it always does for any post critical of it:
PewSitter gets Eye-of-the-Tibered?! – COMMENTS!
And then Mark Shea showed up:
A blog I have been reading lately is Daffey Thoughts, run by David Griffey, a Baptist minister who converted to Catholicism. The video above is from 2006. He is a graceful writer as demonstrated by this recent post:
This year has been a struggle, as I work things out relative to the shifts that have happened in Catholicism since I’ve been Catholic. The last vestiges of pre-progressive culture have been swept behind us, except for those sexual issues that would likely not impact celibate men. Everything else is increasingly along the lines of modern, Western, progressive and even secular social and political theory.
That is enough right there. Add to it the slammed doors on any hope that I will be able to act in the capacity of a minister of the Gospel, and it’s been tough. What to give up? What to sacrifice? What to commit to?
Well, I decided, a few weeks into Lent I admit, that my penance will be a daily visit to Catholic and Enjoying It. That may sound strange. But here is why.
In my early days of looking at non-Protestant Christianity, I stumbled on CAEI largely by accident. I was searching for some free downloadable articles by Scott Hahn, without success. Then I found an article by someone named Mark Shea. It dealt with the strange aversion many Protestants have regarding Mary. It was direct, but nice. Even respectful. There were some clever zingers, making the point without offending. But the point was solid, fair, and truthful.
I went back, found his website, and gobbled up the articles. They were almost all wonderful. Here was a conservative American Catholic, not afraid to point out when Conservatism wasn’t following the path of Christ. He was also fair when liberalism was correct. His blog was a little more raucous. But those were usually the readers. Mark himself was often the goalie, stepping in and stopping things before they went too far. Even telling his friends to back off. No personal attacks or accusations were allowed. Those would get you the door.
There you had it. You could be conservative and Catholic. The stereotype of Catholicism and Liberal Socialism voting Democrats as the sacramental calling of modern Catholicism was not universal. You could love America, admit it sins, but not emphasize them (which Mark pointed out was often a very un-Christian thing to do). You could respect the heritage of Western Civilization. You could evenly boldly declare “Why We Must Fight” following 9/11. He even liked Tolkien, and the books I liked. And his humor and mine were not too far off each other.
Perhaps it was my own fault that I saw in Mark’s rather balanced approach as what Catholicism was, rather than looking further. But that was well over ten years ago.
Today, the Church has changed in just the time since we came into it. The generation that had welcomed Protestant Clergy Converts into the fold have passed to retirement. With some exceptions in the priesthood, most now in charge (Boomer age) seem to want little to do with us, unless we can design webpages or raise money. And it isn’t hard to see that Oprah style liberalism and the growing pronouncements about reality from Church leaders sound increasingly the same. The Bishops’ willingness to almost in one voice support the Democrats in all things, as long as they don’t screw the Church, and the shift toward accepting the Secular narrative are hard to miss.
True, Pope Francis is a horse of a different color. But those who have studied liberation theology and the Marxist influences in South American Christianity will recognize at least some influences there, even if what he is willing to take a stand against other forms of radical leftist morality (again, usually where sex is concerned).
On CAEI, the change is even more pronounced. It’s almost an entirely different world. An entirely different blogger. Most regulars of old have long since moved on. The readers are either post-modern non-conformists cheering on their own superiority over all those loser “tribal Catholics”, or clearly hard to the Left progressives, with varying degrees of anti-abortion and non-gay marriage support. In fact, opposing gay “marriage” is about the only thing that separates much modern talk about homosexuality in the Church from your average LGBT rally. And CAEI echoes this.
CAEI is a strange mixture now of Jack Chick, Glenn Beck, Huffington Post progressive thought, and a reminder that Catholics are, whether we want to admit it or not, heirs of the Inquisition. For a couple years, many regulars tried to warn that there was little to do with enjoying anything on CAEI, and a growing discrepancy between a man who claims to be conservative, and a man who increasingly seems to love liberalism but hate conservatism. One by one, those readers have apparently given up and moved on. Only a handful remain. God love them.
For me, who has been accused of horrible things by the stock readers and by Mark himself – including not caring about murdered children at Sandy Hook and desiring to increase human slaughter – there is little joy or happiness now. The anti-Western, anti-American, anti-Traditional and anti-Conservative narrative fully embraced has made me more of an outcast there than I was at the Huffington Post. And to be honest, I’ve been called far worse on CAEI than I was at the Huffington Post. And it was leaving HP (as well as being banned for not being liberal) that was one of the reasons I started my blog! Which is always a possibility at CAEI, since the thing that gets you banned now is pretty much defending traditional and conservative viewpoints, with rare exception. Continue reading
Something for Father Tom Rosica and his legal beagles to contemplate:
Vox Cantoris posts links to the blogger articles that have rallied to his support:
Blog post collections
The Radical Catholic: Fr. Thomas Rosica Threatens Catholic Blogger
Everyday for Life: Careful what you say about the clergy: you may get sued
Jonah in the Heart of Nineveh: Rosica’s Conflicts of Interest, and Other Problems (Video from ChurchMilitant.TV)
An Editorial from SCCB, totally siding with Father Rosica (wink wink).
Anglican Samizdat: Vatican priest threatens to sue Catholic blogger
Kitchener Waterloo Traditional Catholic: Really, Rev. Rosica?
Mundabor: Father Rosica Tries To Silence A Catholic Blogger
The American Catholic: Sue ’em!
Ex Magna: Vatican Spokesman Father Rosica Threatens To Sue Vox Cantoris Blog
America, the Jesuit rag not the country, interviews Mark Shea. The money quote:
I love the man. It’s almost inarticulate, but I have nothing but love for the guy. I think he’s the absolute real deal and I feel tremendous hope for the church. As I said before, I’ve loved every pope we’ve had, but I particularly have a soft spot for this man just as a human being apart from whatever he does as pope. I think the world of him. There are some people you just recognize as genuine people and I always respond really strongly to them. There’s no artifice about him and I really like that. Continue reading
John L. Allen Jr.’s name came up during an introductory meeting between the new owner of The Boston Globe, John W. Henry, and the editor of the same daily, Brian McGrory. It was an auspicious meeting because it was taking place one day after the Boston Red Sox winning the 2013 World Series, which Henry also owns.
Taking note of the popularity of the new Pope and wanting to capitalize on it, Allen’s name was floated to anchor this new online Catholic magazine named Crux. Crux would be an addition to the online publishing niches that the Globe operates. Considering the large Catholic population of the Boston area and the appeal of Pope Francis, it was a natural fit.
Henry was a self made man in financial trading and also successful in breaking the ‘Curse of the Bambino‘ by winning the 2004 World Series. Looking back at Henry’s track record, it can be said that he took bold ventures in unfamiliar territory and did well.
Picking a fight, go here to read all about it, with PewSitter is a really bad idea.
Update: Mark Shea weighs in with the calm and charitable commentary that has made him famed throughout Saint Blog’s:
Update: some of my more charitable readers insist that “admit” is patient of a reading that is not as unfeeling as it sounds to Simcha, me and rather a lot of female readers (particularly victims of sex crimes). Okay. Summoning “love believeth all things” to its summit, I will buy that and apologize for seeing red. But I also don’t think Simcha was particularly wrong to see red. Pewsitter has a long record of saying odious things. The fact that this may have only been semi-odious is nothing to write home about.
Moral: a website written by anonymous cowards who regularly go out of their way to put the darkest possible constructions on the pope’s words should perhaps consider a bit more circumspection about throwing stones from their glass house when they themselves speak so recklessly. The best that can be said for their wording was that it was, ahem, “poorly chosen” and (what’s is it that those guys love to hurl at Francis? Oh yeah!) “sends a confusing message”. And the rest of the site remains a clearinghouse for contempt for much of the Church’s magisterial teaching and this pope in particular. Take the log out of your own eyes, anonymous Pewsitter cowards.
Patheos v. Pewsitter! Pass the popcorn!
Mark Shea has a habit of saying that unless people do x, x always being a policy he endorses, they really are not pro-life. This of course is simply an attempt, at least among pro-lifers, to stop debate on x and says nothing about the merits of x as a policy. His latest attempt to do so is on the issue of smart guns, technology that purports to prevent a firearm from being fired, unless the owner is the one pulling the trigger. Go here to read one of his posts on the subject. Blogger Rebecca Frech, at her blog Shoved to Them, relates an incident to describe why Shea is wrong as a practical matter:
The argument seems to center around smart gun technology. Shea reasons that if gun owners were truly pro-life then we would support all efforts to create guns which would only fire for their owners, and then the world would be a better place. People who don’t support such legislation and research, even if they support the protection of life from conception to natural death, are not truly pro-life because they participate in a culture which accepts the possibility of death by gun shot (Mark and his readers haven’t mentioned how they aim to prevent people from being bludgeoned with a rifle butt or pistol whipped with a handgun).
Lifesite News has responded to the assault on Hilary White of Lifesite News orchestrated by some Catholic bloggers. Go here to read Paul Zummo’s post on the controversy, and go here to read mine. Here is the post of Steve Jalsevac, one of the two co-founders of Lifesite News:
Now and then various Church officials complain about deeply uncharitable and harmful discussions on some Catholic blogs. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and even email can each far too easily allow angry thoughts that cross people’s minds to be published for all the world to see without the sober second thought that would naturally accompany face-to-face or spoken communication.
There was a recent attack against LifeSiteNews from a very well known Catholic writer and another such writer and her husband. Using these means of unfiltered near-instant communications, they poured calumny and invective on LifeSiteNews and our talented and committed staff.
- “Two sentences that make me turn on my bullshit detector: ones that start, ‘Guess what Pope Francis just did?’ and ones that start, ‘According to LifeSiteNews . . . ‘”
- “lying assholes who attack the Church”
- “lazy, biased, and stupid reporting”
- “no respect for LSN as a whole”
- “an organization with a bad reputation”
- “no news sense and no conscience”
- hang your “head in shame for attempting to bring division in the Church through inaccurate and dishonest reporting”
- “anti-Catholic bias”
- “They have a distorted view of reality, and no conscience when it comes to reporting lies in order to advance the agenda.”
- “sleazier than the National Enquirer”
- “They don’t actually do any reporting. They rewrite a lot of other people’s reporting without checking facts or giving attribution.”
- “The narcissism and pride is epic.”
Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.
LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith.
Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments. Continue reading
I have been roaming around Saint Blogs since 2003 and have become familiar with the work of most of the major Catholic bloggers. Since the election of Pope Francis I have noticed a curious phenomenon, especially among Catholic bloggers who make their livelihood by hocking books, speaking before parishes, etc: A swift reversal of long held positions, combined with a sudden desire to denounce “reactionaries” and a new found respect for liberal Catholics. No doubt such conversions are heartfelt and not merely time serving, transparent attempts to stay in lockstep with the powers that be. However, if any such sudden conversions are not heartfelt, I dedicate this poem to them:
“In good King Charles’s golden days,
When Loyalty no harm meant;
A Furious High-Church man I was,
And so I gain’d Preferment.
Unto my Flock I daily Preach’d,
Kings are by God appointed,
And Damn’d are those who dare resist,
Or touch the Lord’s Anointed.
And this is law, I will maintain
Unto my Dying Day, Sir.
That whatsoever King may reign,
I will be the Vicar of Bray, Sir!
When Royal James possest the crown,
And popery grew in fashion;
The Penal Law I shouted down,
And read the Declaration:
The Church of Rome I found would fit
Full well my Constitution,
And I had been a Jesuit,
But for the Revolution. Continue reading
My friend Dale Price at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings has often supplied me with blogging ideas that I have
stolen borrowed. Unfortunately he hasn’t been blogging much lately. That was broken with a post on Pope Francis which sums up many of the reactions I have been having:
In which I exile myself from polite company and retreat to the margins of Catholic society.
This is basically how I feel. Like the person Sutherland is pointing at the end of Invasion. Essentially, the Catholic world I know has been seized by body snatchers and is about to notice that I am not lining up to board the F1 to the Promised Land.
Yes, this is about the interview. Quick summary of my reaction: some very good parts, some easily-soundbitten ammo I can expect to see all over the place, but is still explicable in terms of preaching the Gospel, and a disastrous, giant ticking nuke about to blow us back to the Church of the 1970s.
The Interview Was Candy Mountain Awesome, Charlie! Everyone agrees–it was full of candy, and joy, and joyness! You don’t believe that?
Yeah, well, I can live with that. Hier stehe ich. Ich kann nicht anders.
[Just to make the inevitable scream of “That’s unclean Protestant talk!” a little easier.]
As I see it, there are three serious problems, two of which are related to how it’s being received and processed, and the third is the nuke.
Problem 1: We Are All Ultramontaines Now.
Including–nay, especially!–people who have spent a generation ignoring, deriding or spinning away every encyclical, apostolic letter and motu proprio that flowed forth from the pens of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
As an aside, it’s good to see the Jesuits at America released from the dungeons after the long night of Benedict the Destroyer. The shackle chafe marks being no doubt hidden under the long sleeves. Some advice: sunlight and a vitamin regimen will banish the sallow complexions.
What the right’s deal is, I don’t know. The Pope Says We Must Re-Balance, So We Must Re-Balance. It smacks too much of a new CEO coming in, and everyone having to get with the program. At a minimum, it’s a feverish celebration that has no parallels with how it received Benedict, which was more defensive and apologetic, and less effusive in its praise.
The fact both are united in swoonery suggests that one or the other is missing something. And someone is, as we shall see in Problem 3. Continue reading
God, I thank you that I am not like other people”
From the eminently huggable Mark Shea’s “Bed-wetting Reactionary Wusses…”
What ties everything in Reactionary culture together better than any other theory I’ve been able to come up with is that it’s not that Reactionaries think the Church is evangelizing wrong and want to do it better. It’s that they hate the whole idea of bringing new people into the Church at all (except for a vanishingly small sample of like-minded Reactionaries) and seem to be bent on making sure as few are allowed in and as many are driven away as possible.
I agree with Mark. Wouldn’t it be much better if all the Reactionary Wuss –holes in the Church who are not as open, loving, and tolerant as us would just get the the F out.
File this in the “irony is lost on them” department.
“Peter can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.'” Dominic turned and looked straight at the Pope, and said, “No, and neither can he any longer say, ‘Rise and walk.'”
Supposed comment by Saint Dominic during a tour of the papal treasury conducted by Pope Innocent III.
Michael Voris, who I personally have little use for, has touched off a hurricane in the Catholic blogosphere by revealing the large salaries purportedly received by some of the biggest secular names in Catholic apologetics. Go here to Catholic Family News to read all about it.
1. Voris better have been telling the truth that he is earning 40k a year because his finances are now going to be under a microscope.
2. I am shocked at the size of the purported salaries. The main sources of these salaries are often donations from people of very limited means and it rubs me the wrong way to see people making a very good living off what is very frequently a poor widow’s mite.
3. I am always suspicious of secular people who are engaged in apologetics and who make their living from this work. That smacks to me of being a professional Catholic rather than a Catholic simply writing or speaking in defense of the Church and neither seeking nor expecting monetary gain.
4. My salary at The American Catholic since it was founded in 2008 has been $0.00. I have not earned a cent from my blogging. Continue reading
My friend Dale Price is posting again regularly at his blog Dyspeptic Mutterings after something of a hiatus. Go here to have a gander at his blog. Dale has long written some of the sharpest commentary on Saint Blog’s. I stop in every day looking for blogging topics to
steal borrow, and I rejoice that he is writing frequently again.