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Debate: Is the internet weakening the Catholic Church?

Is the blogosphere obscuring the truth, or helping to illuminate it?

By on Thursday, 7 October 2010

A journalist uses his iPad during the Catholic Press Congress at the Vatican (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

A journalist uses his iPad during the Catholic Press Congress at the Vatican (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Today Pope Benedict XVI addressed the Catholic Press Congress about the challenges facing Catholic journalism. “Catholic journalists must seek the truth with impassioned minds and hearts,” he said, “but also with the professionalism of competent workers equipped with adequate and efficient means.”

He spoke about new media, according to the Catholic News Service, saying that while it could help spread information, often it was focused on attention-grabbing images and made little or no attempt to help people understand what is happening or what it means for their lives.

Many people believe (including Fr Ray Blake) that Catholic newspapers are being superseded by new media. But is that a good thing? The Catholic blogosphere is rude, argumentative, and fractious: it exposes the divisions of the Church in an ugly light. It flattens Church hierarchy, too: bishops and cardinals are abused regularly by Catholics in the pew.

On the other hand, the online Catholic world has a huge amount of vitality and enthusiasm, and offers the kind of robust debate, and up-to-the-second coverage, that is not often found in traditional media.

So, is the internet weakening the Church? Is it obscuring the truth, or helping to illuminate it?

  • Mike

    Good question. I'd say overall it's weakening the Church in that it often distracts from gaining a deeper knowledge of the faith. Too often you can find yourself looking at news on the web – or writing meaningless comments – instead of reading a book that will help you understand the deeper and more fundamental issues.

  • Dr07

    It allows interested and diametricaly oposed parties to dialog and E-linking the discussion to an E-source makes it convenfor a discerning reader to validate the posiitons. It holds the contributors instantly accountable to the dutiful skeptic; but then the discussion is controled by the edit of the editor. Usually the discussions are one sided towqard a corporate objective.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_NHS4UG2ZOMGCTP4PQF5FJIY2J4 Allan

    The internet is probably the greatest evil foisted on humanity. Every type of sexual perversion is available in seconds to anyone of any age at any time. Before you scoff, remember what Christ said about the impure of heart. To our shame, the United States is one of the largest producers of pornography. While we stupidly argue about how to keep the internet safe for minors, we allow a vast cesspool of immorality to exist at but a finger touch away.

  • Albertcooper

    When Vatican Two took hold at my parish church of St.John the Baptist Norwich UK…the Communion Rail the High Alter the Pulpit were,torn down.both myself and wider family objected,the answer by the Parish Priest was if you dont like it stay away,to let “enlightened” Catholics even if it meant smaller congreations take the church forward…well today I would say the same!! we were told at the time of V2 it was obedience to the Holy Father,that was needed..the same applies today..though the Liberal/left have always attempted to shout opponents down

  • Guest

    The new media is a major conduit for the evangelization of both Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Some kind of oversight would be excellent, and perhaps this will develop organically. If my myopic sights are correct, blogs committed to Orthodox teaching and commentary seem to be the one's that are flourishing. Unsurprisingly, the same is true in the land of priestly vocations.

    St. Isidore of Seville, pray for us!

  • Dr07

    AlbertCooper

    I doubt the parish priest had little to do but, “,,,the answer by the Parish Priest was if you dont like it stay away…” The priest is powerless. If your spirit is not in it and it is that important to you and he is powerless and you stay, what kind of environment would that create in the parish. If it were an older priest, I assure you he probably would not want the change himself.

    With these blogs the equation changes. You may leave frustrated, but you can relieve this frustration by communicating with me in Houston and you half way around the world and, someone at some level will be able to relate and relieve in part the angst associated with change. I think that a powerful and uniting and spiritual uplifting opportunity.

  • Cletvs

    It seems that the catholic bloggers voice I have come across is often tuned in with the tradition. If they are attacking or it feels they are attacking the bishops and cardinals, it is perhaps that they care for the church, anybody thought of that yet? As catholics we are so behind with the use of the internet as have been in print since reformation. The same thing applies to TV or Radio. People do not read, people watch these days. What does it cost to build a good video sharing website (Vatican YouTube Channel), so it won't coexist with a sacrilegious masses from chicago or desecrating holy communion form Quebec. Why are there 50 or 60 islamic channels on FTA dishes in North America, and Europe, and only one Padre Pio in Italian? Why is Dr. Scott teaching on FTA on her own channel how catholics don't understand what Eucharist is, and again one Padre Pio Channel… We need Mel Gibson to make few movies that will shake up the world, remind people the devil exists and is spending any amount of money to destroy souls… is that rude and negative?

  • Ouramel24

    The Obama and his regime loving Cardinals, Bishops, Priests, and so called Sisters, along with the liberal Catholics have all be divided the church, and opened the doors to Satan.

  • Mark

    The new media is weakening the old structures of the Catholic Church which made it easy for the “boys club” mentality to cover up embarrasing indiscresions, or to minimise the importance of particular teachings that may effect the level of funds flowing into the parish and chancery coffers. The new media is strengthening the catechetical literacy of the interested man in the pews. It is shining a light on the scandalous and the sacred alike. If more priests, bishops, and cardinals grasp how far reaching the new media is, perhaps they will be less likely to permit scandal and will be more likely to focus on the sacred.

  • Rodlarocque1931

    Yes the new media is weaking the church, the LIBERAL MODERNIST CHURCH that is.

    The blogs and discussion sites, like <realcatholictv.com> and <fisheaters.com> expose the liberal corruption of the bishops and how they lied to the faithful about what Vatican II was all about. And that is just one example.

    If the bishops have nothing the hide, they need not fear the internet. “The truth will out” as they say.</fisheaters.com></realcatholictv.com>

  • AndyFrankophile

    In the communist era there used to be a saying like the truth will out even in the newspaper (called Truth). People became avid readers and quite discriminating as to what rang true and what was propaganda. Surely the same is happening on the internet. Yes there are discourteous rants from people with relatively nutty or dotty views. There are hate speeches and there are pieces redolent of love and sound as if the holy spirit is alive in them. The truth will out.

  • Jakeslaw

    the new media CAN BE a tool for evangelism IF the leadership in the Church will recognize the collaboration that can occur between the clergy and the laity. Further the emphasis must be on catechesis and the promotion of respect of the dignity of the person.
    As to the question of “weakening” the Church – the Church has always been weak in that it is run on earth by men. Yet it is strong in that Christ preserves it through all adversity.

  • Mike Bolognese

    it is sad to say that the traditional diocesan papers are closer to a parish bulletin then they are a source of news…at least that is the condition in the United States

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    The internet just is. Like the printing press. It cannot be undone. The Luddites should get with it.

    If church hierarchy is being abused regularly by Catholics in the pews maybe that's because there are so few of them! It's always seemed me mad that the Church has so many women in religious orders yet they're not allowed to say mass. Let them say mass what harm can id do? Or alternatively you can just wait till the number or priestless parishes force social change on you.

    The internet is the greatest promotional tool in the history of the world – use it.

    Also one wonders how much easier it'd have been for a Pope to get on top of a peadophile priest scandal when it didnt take 2 weeks for an airmail letter to go from America to Rome and back again and probably get lost on someone's desk on the way. Email alone massively cuts the amount of time anyone in promotion (and the church is a promotional business) has to spend orgainsing things rapidly cutting costs. The downside is the increase in the number of competitor businesses it spawns.

  • Cultul

    Modernists don't like it that their agenda has been exposed to the light of day, so they resort to ad hominem attacks.

  • Cultul

    Modernists don't like it that their agenda has been exposed to the light of day, so they resort to ad hominem attacks.

  • Cultul

    I think you need to study the Faith. I would agree that there are few Catholics — those that know their Faith and defend it. Women priests will never be. Incidentally, those parishes that return to orthodoxy have more, not less people attending. Those bishops who are most orthodox have mopre, not less seminarians. Heretical and worldly churchmen and laity are dying off. Christ will ensure that the Church will survive and flourish. However, I do agree that the Internet is a tool — neither intrinsically good nor evil. Like virtually any invention, it can be used for good purposes or subverted to evil. Cheers!

  • Cultul

    I think you need to study the Faith. I would agree that there are few Catholics — those that know their Faith and defend it. Women priests will never be. Incidentally, those parishes that return to orthodoxy have more, not less people attending. Those bishops who are most orthodox have mopre, not less seminarians. Heretical and worldly churchmen and laity are dying off. Christ will ensure that the Church will survive and flourish. However, I do agree that the Internet is a tool — neither intrinsically good nor evil. Like virtually any invention, it can be used for good purposes or subverted to evil. Cheers!

  • SteveB

    The new media is strengthening the Church because it brings everything to light. That which seems “ugly” is truly ugly. Just because it was hidden before doesn't mean it shouldn't come to light. It may make some of the folks who have not always been faithful to the faith (not just laity, but cardinals, bishops, and priests, too) in our Church think twice before spreading falsehoods. It's a lot harder to sneak around in the shadows when you're in the beam of a 10,000 watt light that the new media has become! :)

  • SteveB

    The new media is strengthening the Church because it brings everything to light. That which seems “ugly” is truly ugly. Just because it was hidden before doesn't mean it shouldn't come to light. It may make some of the folks who have not always been faithful to the faith (not just laity, but cardinals, bishops, and priests, too) in our Church think twice before spreading falsehoods. It's a lot harder to sneak around in the shadows when you're in the beam of a 10,000 watt light that the new media has become! :)

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    Well it used to be matter of practice rather than faith but when wome priests in the CofE became a reality then it prompted increasingly right wing pontifications eminate from the Vatican to make it into promelgated dogma. Just one of many new bits to the faith – they even want to stop gays becoming priests – this never used to be faith or dogma but they are clearly on a mission to make it so… Though they're careful not to broadcast such instructions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yet because they need to strengthen their political position before making it Magesterial Doctrine.

    As the number of male priests decline and the Church reduces in Ordained size to a FTSE 100 company trying to control over a billion people …from an operational perspective two things will happen.

    1) There will be even less ordained to layity meaning there will be more conflict between the layity and the ordained so that either whole chunks of the church will fall off or it will become more of a sect and less of a religion. But then as Benedict XVI would say – hey that doesn't matter as long as we're true to ourselves who cares if we have no punters…

    Maybe when it starts to hit priestly take home pay it will matter but I guess it'll be too late by then.

    2) Women and other lay people will increasingly be leant on to perform the functions (if not the sacraments) of the ordained priesthood. Presumably for no money or tiny financial renumeration.

    The position of the Catholic Church with regard to women is that you can give your life to God so long as you dont expect any political power back – this is just silly.

    Indeed it cant even meet these women half way – find them more of a role without actually allowing them to administer sacraments.

    Result? Many of them have already started setting up duplicate power structures.

    There are many aspects to the “Faith” such as the excommunication of the parents of 9 year old girls for having an abortion in defence of their own life down Brazil way that I simply do not recognise as Church teaching, Christian or anything to do with what I used to understand as Catholicism… The Vatican comes over as harsh, callous and removed while constantly expanding the number of banned things.

    And no you cant explain it all away with the line these are theological ideals rather than how we expect people to actually live.

    They really do expect people to actually live to these ideals and if they had the political power they'd probably make us live to them too.

    Bottom line – who wants to be part of such a puritanical religion….?

    The only fun in being Catholic used to be it was out of fashion with the Establishment and naughty.

    The fun has gone for me. I know awful motivation for believeing – it might be fun. Imagine..

    I haven't missed the new bits and pieces being bolted on to the faith.

    The Vatican is entitled to expand the teaching of the church – that's fine.

    But the downside is I and many others are entitled to pootle off. And we have.

    Things such as the banning of even celibate gay clergy are not reiterations of existing faith positions.

    They are changes and expansions of dogma into new areas.

    Fine have your new areas but have them on your own

    All that remains is to get round to canceling the standing order but this would involve writing a letter…

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    Well it used to be matter of practice rather than faith but when wome priests in the CofE became a reality then it prompted increasingly right wing pontifications eminate from the Vatican to make it into promelgated dogma. Just one of many new bits to the faith – they even want to stop gays becoming priests – this never used to be faith or dogma but they are clearly on a mission to make it so… Though they're careful not to broadcast such instructions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yet because they need to strengthen their political position before making it Magesterial Doctrine.

    As the number of male priests decline and the Church reduces in Ordained size to a FTSE 100 company trying to control over a billion people …from an operational perspective two things will happen.

    1) There will be even less ordained to layity meaning there will be more conflict between the layity and the ordained so that either whole chunks of the church will fall off or it will become more of a sect and less of a religion. But then as Benedict XVI would say – hey that doesn't matter as long as we're true to ourselves who cares if we have no punters…

    Maybe when it starts to hit priestly take home pay it will matter but I guess it'll be too late by then.

    2) Women and other lay people will increasingly be leant on to perform the functions (if not the sacraments) of the ordained priesthood. Presumably for no money or tiny financial renumeration.

    The position of the Catholic Church with regard to women is that you can give your life to God so long as you dont expect any political power back – this is just silly.

    Indeed it cant even meet these women half way – find them more of a role without actually allowing them to administer sacraments.

    Result? Many of them have already started setting up duplicate power structures.

    There are many aspects to the “Faith” such as the excommunication of the parents of 9 year old girls for having an abortion in defence of their own life down Brazil way that I simply do not recognise as Church teaching, Christian or anything to do with what I used to understand as Catholicism… The Vatican comes over as harsh, callous and removed while constantly expanding the number of banned things.

    And no you cant explain it all away with the line these are theological ideals rather than how we expect people to actually live.

    They really do expect people to actually live to these ideals and if they had the political power they'd probably make us live to them too.

    Bottom line – who wants to be part of such a puritanical religion….?

    The only fun in being Catholic used to be it was out of fashion with the Establishment and naughty.

    The fun has gone for me. I know awful motivation for believeing – it might be fun. Imagine..

    I haven't missed the new bits and pieces being bolted on to the faith.

    The Vatican is entitled to expand the teaching of the church – that's fine.

    But the downside is I and many others are entitled to pootle off. And we have.

    Things such as the banning of even celibate gay clergy are not reiterations of existing faith positions.

    They are changes and expansions of dogma into new areas.

    Fine have your new areas but have them on your own

    All that remains is to get round to canceling the standing order but this would involve writing a letter…

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    Well it used to be matter of practice rather than faith but when wome priests in the CofE became a reality then it prompted increasingly right wing pontifications eminate from the Vatican to make it into promelgated dogma. Just one of many new bits to the faith – they even want to stop gays becoming priests – this never used to be faith or dogma but they are clearly on a mission to make it so… Though they're careful not to broadcast such instructions from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith yet because they need to strengthen their political position before making it Magesterial Doctrine.

    As the number of male priests decline and the Church reduces in Ordained size to a FTSE 100 company trying to control over a billion people …from an operational perspective two things will happen.

    1) There will be even less ordained to layity meaning there will be more conflict between the layity and the ordained so that either whole chunks of the church will fall off or it will become more of a sect and less of a religion. But then as Benedict XVI would say – hey that doesn't matter as long as we're true to ourselves who cares if we have no punters…

    Maybe when it starts to hit priestly take home pay it will matter but I guess it'll be too late by then.

    2) Women and other lay people will increasingly be leant on to perform the functions (if not the sacraments) of the ordained priesthood. Presumably for no money or tiny financial renumeration.

    The position of the Catholic Church with regard to women is that you can give your life to God so long as you dont expect any political power back – this is just silly.

    Indeed it cant even meet these women half way – find them more of a role without actually allowing them to administer sacraments.

    Result? Many of them have already started setting up duplicate power structures.

    There are many aspects to the “Faith” such as the excommunication of the parents of 9 year old girls for having an abortion in defence of their own life down Brazil way that I simply do not recognise as Church teaching, Christian or anything to do with what I used to understand as Catholicism… The Vatican comes over as harsh, callous and removed while constantly expanding the number of banned things.

    And no you cant explain it all away with the line these are theological ideals rather than how we expect people to actually live.

    They really do expect people to actually live to these ideals and if they had the political power they'd probably make us live to them too.

    Bottom line – who wants to be part of such a puritanical religion….?

    The only fun in being Catholic used to be it was out of fashion with the Establishment and naughty.

    The fun has gone for me. I know awful motivation for believeing – it might be fun. Imagine..

    I haven't missed the new bits and pieces being bolted on to the faith.

    The Vatican is entitled to expand the teaching of the church – that's fine.

    But the downside is I and many others are entitled to pootle off. And we have.

    Things such as the banning of even celibate gay clergy are not reiterations of existing faith positions.

    They are changes and expansions of dogma into new areas.

    Fine have your new areas but have them on your own

    All that remains is to get round to canceling the standing order but this would involve writing a letter…

  • Dr07

    In front of the world, would YOU put a gun to a man’s head (John) and kill him?

    Why do you come to church?

    What is church?

    What is ethical and moral?

    Do you defend faith without knowing all the facts and thus you abandon ethics?

    John is a terrorist and holds a detonator that will set off a nuclear weapon that will destroy London. If you kill him, you save yourself and London.

    If YOU hate Londoners because they stole your crumpet idea or whatever you UK guys and gals drink. YOU think, “What the heck, burn baby burn!” By omission you become not only dead; but also you become a terrorist accomplice.

    Spiritually, what do you think is more important, the act of killing or your motivation for killing? Probably Fiction: Sadam Hussein gassed 10,000 citizens because these were terrorists he knew with absolute certainty that they would kill 1 million citizens in Bagdad, 100 people at a time as suicide bombers.

    What motivated YOU Jewish priest to crucify Jesus? Some said to save 1 million lives, some said for blaspheme, some for hidden pride, and some for a combination of all. The same will be reviewed for the Pope, YOU, the terrorist.

    Sometimes we never see the motivation of the perpetrator and victim and yet we ally ourselves to one side or the other, even without the facts as presented by the adversary (Obama and the Professor in America). And some ally themselves to a side through willful ignor-ance of truth, like starting the $1 trillion Iraqi war based upon known fraudulent documents.

    Now everyone can be called on the carpet. The internet gives you the opportunity for expressing YOUR perspective, only limited by the blog moderator.

  • Dai Yoshida

    Anthony:
    You are the perfect example of the need for truth in Catholic journalism. You cannot have woman priests because it goes against the teachings of Jesus Christ. No Pope has the authority to change that. JP II said so and B XVI said so. Yet, you still speak about it as if it is even a possibility because you have been getting bad information.

    There are no changes and expansion of Dogma. They don't change, therefore it is Dogma. Anyone who tells you different is lying.

    Priestly take home pay? Do you even know how much they make? You might ask a priest and find out. It would surprise you.

    Orthodox orders and archdiocese do not have a shortage of seminarians and nuns. The so-called crisis in the liberal archdiocese are the problems of their own making.

    Get your news from more reliable sources. You have no idea what your religion is.

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    Erm … actually Jesus said NOTHING about women priests. There is not a single quote in the New Testament on it. It is a matter of practice of the church that is based on the fact Jesus had no female diciples … plus other bits and pieces of theology …that Pope John Paul II made (or reaffairmed depending on your viewpoint) Church Doctrine. Fair enough – that's his job …Jesus was very busy and didn't have time to say everything on earth before he was crucified. I dont remember it being dogma before. It is now. I am not saying the church deletes dogmas I am saying it adds them. Some of these additions may be seen as clarifications others are more debatable – that is the job of the Vatican.

    There are expansions of dogma – the assumption of our lady was one.

    That is what the holy father has the ex cathedra powers for.

    I'm not insinuating that the Priests are rolling in it. Most of them are good men living humble pious lives.

    BUT you have to WORRY A BIT when the Pope says it “doesnt matter if we shrink as an organisation”?

    I may be over worldly but I do think the Church could do with thinking a bit about how it operates as a business.

    I dont think I've said anything above that I cant back up – although some points maybe debatable.

    I'm sorry you are wrong though the church can, has and does expand its dogmas – what it cant do is delete any.

  • paulpriest

    You think Mark ?
    Experience so far has indicated [albeit anecdotally] that the response takes four forms:
    a] silence – e.g. the absent defence of the Pope during the clerical abuse cover-up witch-hunt/stitch-up – silence is also the main strategy of the Catholic Communications Network { unless it's denouncing a Catholic commentator for being embarassingly outspokenly orthodox e.g. Adamus]
    b] dismissal/denial – e.g Catholics' outrage at the CES and government sex and life education policies was 'delusory'.
    c] ad hominem attacks – e.g. “I trust in people, as they come forward, that they do so with a good conscience…and anybody from the outside who is trying to cast a judgment on the people who come forward for Communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue.” or anything coming out of the mouth or pc of Austen Ivereigh
    d] all of the above – not from the source itself; but from pseudonymous lackeys or ambitious name-seeking bandwagon-jumpers – so many 'professional' clergy and laity willing to jump into the fray ; whether or not they have any clue about the issues or events involved is conjectural.

    Your image of an old-boys network implies a clericalist cultic clade – you could not be farther from the truth – The diocesan and conference 'Inner rings' and the famous 'Magic Circle' are very much amalgams of like-minded clergy and 'professional' laity. Remember there is strident pro-laity anti-clericalism even among the clergy ; as it diminishes the roles of brother priests and accentuates their 'specialness' in their role as an extraordinary clerical 'mover and shaker'.

    The blogs are excellent at uncovering or denouncing institutional misdemeanours, hypocrisy or offences against orthodoxy and Catholic moral praxis ; but as of yet they still remain mere information oases in a desert of oblivious ignorance and apathy among the majority of the faithful…but that will change.

    I think you'll discover that 'personal' scandals will still occur and the blogs remain silent on them – when it comes to clerical misdemeanours the majority of we bloggers uphold a very scrupulous code of conduct that we don't stoop to that level – if for instance a prominent cleric denounces the nature of a sacrament or a catholic moral precept yet he personally has a list of indiscretions as long as your arm? We won't mention them in our defence of orthodoxy – unlike our opponents who'll use every trick in the book we won't resort to the sin of detraction….

  • http://twitter.com/RCYouthWorker Jack Regan

    The issue of Catholic blogs is one that I seem to find myself discussing a lot. It has been an interesting phenomena of the last decade or so and one which I think is about to enter a new era. I think it is also one that can present a very, very different view of Catholics to that which can be seen at ground level. The priest who ran the Westminster Cathedral blog (I think) observed last year that there is the 'blogosphere' and 'the real world', and that the two can often bear little resemblance!

    I believe that debate is essential and growthful and this necessitates that people be free to give their views. Having said that I do believe that some blogs can be incredibly nasty. I am sure that a great many bloggers are people of genuine faith who are trying their best for their Church, but the blogosphere is not entirely undeserving of its reputation for nastiness. Heated debate is okay, even if people occasionally snap. Strong and direct language is also okay. What's not okay though, is this…

    A few years ago a certain initiative (let's not name names here) was criticised by 'the blogs.' First one blogger, then others picked it up. Then eventually one of the large, influential bloggers picked it up and ran with it quite vigorously over a period of a few weeks. The result of this was that some of those concerned with the initiative received nasty E-mails and letters. And when I say nasty, I mean very nasty – far beyond what anybody could defend by invoking righteous passion for the Church. The most sick part of this came when a nasty phone call to one guy's house was picked up by his little girl. I wrote to the blogger concerned twice asking for him to post something on his blog stating that such behaviour was completely unacceptable and telling his readers not to take such militant action. I am yet to receive a response.

    Some say that the blogs are a vital part of the conversation and that bloggers are faithful Catholics trying to strengthen the Church that they love. Others say that they are quite often extremely nasty. Both views are right.

    The Catholic internet is set to expand massively. The new voices on the web won't be the same as they were during the last decade. Those voices will still be around for sure, but they will have to find a way to mix it with the new voices or they will find themselves marginalised.

    On CatholicYouthWork.com a few members worked together last year to come up with a code for Catholics publishing on the internet. It has been picked up by quite a few sites and it well worth a read: http://bit.ly/9rslLf

  • SteveB

    Cletvs, if you like good, orthodox Catholic talks, you should enjoy downloading as many good talks as you like from the following website: http://www.alabamacatholicresources.com It's all free. No signup or anything. :)

  • GFFM

    In the US the orthodox Catholic blog scene is in pretty decent shape. An interested Catholic can read all of the major news regarding the Church in the US and throughout the world very quickly. Different perspectives are available, documents, speeches, video are easily accessed. This is all good and it's especially salutary for those who are being persecuted throughout the world. The Church through Catholic online sites exposes religious persecution, especially against Catholics, Jews and Christians. Without the blogosphere and Catholic sites, many of us in the West would not know about the Communist land grab of Catholic property in Vietnam, about the persecution of Chinese Catholics, Pakistani Catholics, and thousands of other Christians. As in the 15th and 16th centuries when the Church had to learn how to harness the power of the print revolution, the Church today has to use these emerging communications technologies to spread the truth and to expose falsehood. And if Catholic newspapers are being superseded, they will have to figure out more innovative ways of using the internet and the web. Many Catholics in the US don't read their diocesan papers because they are full of pablum, and they shy away from responding to issues of politics and social policy which threaten freedom of conscience and religious belief. The Catholic press and Catholic blogs loyal to the Church could act even more effectively spreading information about authentic social justice concerns, religious discrimination, intrusions into religious freedom, and the social and political contributions of Catholic thought regarding issues of our day. There is definitely much room for improvement.

  • lokionline

    We need Mel Gibson to make few movies that will shake up the world, remind people the devil exists and is spending any amount of money to destroy soul… is that rude and negative?”

    No Cletvs, it is not all that rude or even very negative. It is merely stupid. Not ignorant… because you live in society and culture that provides you with the means to educate yourself.

    It is purely 'stupid' to maintain that “the devil” and “souls” are concepts that have any validity outside of the realm of metaphor. Or perhaps I misunderstood and you intended this to be taken metaphorically? If so my apology for my reaction to your post.

    Perhaps you meant 'evil' and just dropped that 'd' in there reflexively?

  • RJ

    Jesus did have women disciples: there were a group of women who went around with him, providing for him out of their own resources, e.g. the wife of Chusa, Herod's steward (Lk 8:1-3). He did not choose women to continue his mission in the way that he chose the apostles (though women do have an important role, albeit a different one). The current faith and practice is rooted in a decision of the Lord.

    I believe you are mistaken in saying that the Popes add doctrine (e.g. the Assumption). They define what the Church already believes. I challenge you to find anything in the Catechism of the Catholic Church which backs up what you say on this.

    There is a growth in understanding through the ages of the single deposit of faith (cf Verbum Dei 8, the Constitution on Divine Revelation of the Second Vatican Council). I believe this is what we mean by “development of doctrine”. There is a single deposit of faith “delivered once for all to the saints” (cf letter of Jude 1:3) but we grow in understanding it. Because it has infinite riches, we will never finish exploring it.

    By the way, I was able to check up on the things I have said in the original documents, available on the internet. That would have been impossible just 20 years ago. It illustrates the great power – I believe for good – of this tool.

  • RJ

    What a very weird posting.

  • Cletvs

    No you haven't misunderstood me. I wasn't referring to metaphor when I spoke of the souls and the devil. Is our Lady of Fatima a metaphor too? Or Padre Pio, right he is a metaphor also. We are all stupid who believe in them or their message. So the diabolic possessions in the New Testament are just psychological illness?

  • Cletvs

    Thank you for the link… the point is 1 new porn site and 10 anti porn to combat it.

  • Cletvs

    This will continue always, remain faithful to the Holy Father, Benedict brought those things back two years ago, now bishops and priests need to follow suit. If it took few decades to bring the rites and furniture back for the Pope, it might take twice as long for the bishops and priests. Laity support those who already follow suit of the Holy Father.

  • lokionline

    Stupid is as stupid does…

  • Dorothy Cummings

    One way we could improve Catholic blogs would be to refuse to publish anything not written by a person under his or her own name. If people thought their own reputation was on the line, they might make less free with those of other people. Meanwhile, the 18th century had its share of anonymous, scurrilous pamplets.

  • Cletvs

    to demonize it, it's a demon of stupidity that got me :)

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    Sorry, but I am not mistaken in that Popes add doctrine.

    Pius IX's ex cathera statement in 1854 added the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception

    Pius XII's ex cathera statement in 1950 added the assumption of Mary

    Before that time both these issues were a matter of individual concience and belief.

    That is not to say that the Pope just gets up one morning and decides “right, I'm going to make Mary immaculate” … these were areas of vigarous debate within the Church and the Pope's job is to rule on them if and when issues of theological debate reach a level where they can either no longer be ignored or are in danger of creating internal schisms in the Church or add the creation of dangerous duplicate power structures within the Church or the arguements are undermining the power of the Magesterium of the Church. Then it is the Pope's job to settle the issue. Previously the the doctrine of papal infalibility (1870) we had only Magesterial Infalibility … that was usually fine but when issues divide even the Bishops and Cardinals then it is up to the Pope to use the ex Cathedra power. The existence of this power has its self been a hot topic of theological debate through the life of the church. Some people point out that the Doctrine of Infallibility is not its self the subject of an ex catherdra statement. But this is nonsense as if you made a statement that an infallible statement is infallible then someone would simply state that that statement its self was not infallible and all you've created is a recursive loop. So you either believe the Pope is infallible or you dont. From a historical point of view I find it interesting how the Infallibility of the Pope becomes so much more important an issue as his actual political power wanes. The pope didn't worry about stuff like infallibility when he had the power to undermine nation states simply by ex-communicating their Kings.

    Sorry …I'm wandering. The point is… No, you're wrong. Doctrine is added. The church merely presents this as Its-what-we-thought-all-along-we-just-never-said-it-before. Although to be fair there wasn't really much point (for example) in the Pope condemning embryology research in 1850 as obviously such things were still science fiction at that time.

    Women priests. There isn't much of a logical arguement it's more just a case of : Well, we've always dont it this way. Why change? That Jesus only chose men as the apostles just shows to me that women weren't exactly respected in 33AD. Anyway, its not a philosophical deal breaker but its interesting how the Vatican has needed to move this from simply-a-traditional-thing to an article of faith. I can kind of accept if-it-aint-bust-dont-fix-it but I do feel slightly disturbed by people who convert simply because the Catholic church doesn't have women priests. This doesn't seem to me to be a sound theological reason for changing faith.

    The Church says it never changes its dogmas. What happened to Limbo? Apparently this was never dogma. Maybe not but they said it loud enough at the time. Loud enough for Mary O'Mally to write a play that was performed at the Royal Court which features an infamous monolog about how “The majority of Babies in limbo are black, yellow and brown, and if it wasn't for the wonderful work carried on by the missionaries throughout the pagan world there'd be many more babies piled up in Limbo”. Another example is the scene in Fortunes of War where Harriot Pringle baptises her atheist husband with a teapot as the unbaptised cannot achieve salvation and “Baptism is the one Sacrament that doesn't have to be administered by a priest”.

    The chatechism of the Church has changed many times. Subtle changes, small changes, little additions we could go through them all line by line but I dont think it would ever close the arguement one way or the other as to what is an actual change and what is, as you would put it, “development of doctrine”.

    That all said. While it is fun for us comedians to pick theological holes in Church doctrine it isn't really the point of religion. I suppose the point I'm driving at is that the Vatican comes out with an awful lot of statements these days to the point where sometimes it feels a bit like it is legislating for the sake of it rather than to fulfill a need. Fortunately, however, I am never going to be Pope so day to day I dont worry about any of these issues too hard. If it sounds like nonsense I dont try to hard to understand it. Ultimately all theologies are flawed as finite human beings can never understand an infinite God.

  • Jhammer

    All communication media can both edify and pervert. St Benedict recognised the need for langauge and speech, but felt he had to warn against some of the uses to which it is often put. Language can be used for liturgy, but it can also be used for vulgarity as the saint tells us in his holy rule. Likewise the internet: it has made available to me both obscenity and the sermons of Archbishops Fulton Sheen and Vincent Nicholls which I'd otherwise miss. Furthermore it is allowing feedback from the laity, some of this is extremely interesting and some is obnoxious (ad hominem diatribes as some have remarked here). We have yet to develop an appropriate etiquette for blogging and internet participation. I hope the end result is not a 'weakening of the old catholic structures' where such things are positive. The church can't have both the 'full participation' of an enthusiastic laity with a voice growing in confidence and also a passive laity known generally as 'the people' that does whatever the great and the good think is best for it. Pope Benedict chose his name well. He wants a re-vitalised Christianisation of Europe – the Internet is going to be one of the principal media though which this is going to have to be achieved. It will mean a mature laity developing a mature broadcasting etiquette that permits broad discussion and reflection. And it will mean, like the original St Benedict showed, we do not have to behave like everyone else in this medium – and perhaps also much can be achieved without a priestly uber-class!!

  • Dr07

    It is the Enron whistle blower coming out of me. To a lesser extent I have been there.

  • Dr07

    I absolute ly agree today, “Yes the new media is weaking the church”; but once the real issues are out of the way, you will see an amazing transformation. Can't you feel it? “What does not destroy completely will make you stronger?”

  • Joel Pinheiro da Fonseca

    My conversion happened largely thanks to the internet, so maybe I'm biased. But in my experience the internet has been great for Catholicism.

    Widespread lies about the Catholic Church have answers that are finally at everyone's reach. You just have to search for them. Yes, some websites are rude, but that is far from the rule, and the best and most accessed tend not to be. Argumentative? Well, that can have a very good sense to it. It will be very hard to convert anyone unless Catholics are willing to present compelling arguments and answers to other religious positions (yes, a lot more is needed, but for many people the rational aspect is necessary, though never sufficient).

    The internet has a democratizing effect and prelates still has to find a way to effectively use it without flattening all hierarchies; but anyway, it is a largely secular venue. I imagine most prelates would use it as a tool to publicize documents, and not to debate, argue or anything like that.

    If we hope for a world (that never actually existed) where the prelates and priests teach and the laity, renouncing the use of their own reason, just sit down and listen, then the internet is certainly very suspicious. But if we are convinced that each man is endowed with reason and can make an active contribution both to evangelizing unbelievers and to enriching Catholic life, then it is a great new media, which is already corroding much of the power of the old big media outlets, most of whom, needless to say, are not exactly Catholic. Abuses have always happened and will always happen to all media.

    I personally believe (can't offer more than this) that the Church is slowly entering a new rebirth phase, and that the internet will play its material role in this.

  • RJ

    We could go on for ever saying “Oh yes they do” and “Oh no they don't”. You assert, but do not show how, the dogma of the assumption is an addition. I'm sure Pius XII would be surprised to hear it.

    You say “The church merely presents this as Its-what-we-thought-all-along-we-just-never-said-it-before”. Pure cynicism, which does not recommend your view.

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    It is an addition because prior to 1950 it was not a dogma. Many people believed it but there was evidence for and against it on both sides of the debate. For the first 400 years of Catholicism no one seemed to care much whether Mary was assumed or not.

    The definition of dogma (rather than belief) is this. If you dont accept dogma you are OUTSIDE the church.

    Prior to 1950 an ordained theologian (i.e. priest, bishop, cardinal, pope) could argue or put forward arguements for or against the assumption of Mary.

    After 1950 an ordained person MUST NOT argue against the assumption of Mary because it is now a dogma of the church and this means that were they to publish or promote a statement that the assumption did not happen they would be in a state of HERESEY and be subject to the sanction of excommuniation.

    This is what I mean by a the dogma being an addition. It is no longer a matter of personal concience/faith. The faithful cannot choose to reject this individual belief yet claim to subscribe to the rest of church teaching. They have to agree to believe it all or reject it all.

    In the eyes of the church if you reject the assumption you are outside the church.

    So we all HAVE to accept it now.

    It is because the power to add dogma is so controversial that it is so rarely used.

    This doesn't mean that these beliefs came from nowhere but there is an important distinction between belief and dogma.

  • Dr07

    Faith is searching for truth. What does one's identity have to do with that? If a victim, of “for example” pedophilia was so humiliated that he/she wanted to conceal his/her identity but wanted to vent, why would that be a sin? These victims not only had no reputation, they were spiritual zombies taking communion with us.

  • RJ

    Thanks for clarifying what you meant by “adding”. I now see what you mean, though I am slightly uncomfortable with this usage and with your previous statement about “bolting on” doctrine.

    I don't think it is unreasonable to hold (and I believe it is the Catholic position) that the Popes clarify what was previously not so clear (hence the possibility of some dispute) but which was implicit in the deposit of faith or followed logically from it. Otherwise, we would be saying that the Church now believed something which it had not believed before. Wouldn't that mean the Church was not the same Church as that founded on the Apostles? In other words, the original Church would have gone out of existence. In that case, Christ would not have kept his promise that “the gates of hell will not prevail against it”, but if we believe in Christ, we do believe that he keeps his promises. Ergo…

    Of course, this is entirely off the point of the blog post.

  • http://www.pearshapedcomedy.com Anthony Miller

    I refer the honourable gentleman to clause 168b of the newly UPDATED catechism.

    Is the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin an article of Faith?

    The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is an article of Faith because it has been solemnly defined by the infallible authority of the Church.

    It is not a contradiction for the Church to believe things now that it didn't before. The church was designed with a political structure to allow this : “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.”. Some things the Church believes now that it didn't before are the result of thousands of years of theological discussion and reasoning. Some are the result of visions and apparitions that have been validated by the Church authority of the Vatican. The Catholic faith is, as you would put it, a developing one. If it didn't have this ability/flexibility the result would be schisms and sects as happens with many other religions. It is what allows for such a centralised power structure.

    To quote Vincent of Lérins “progress means addition, change means alteration.”

  • RJ

    I don't believe the quotation from the catechism substantiates your point, as it does not state that anything has been added. I refer to my distinction between implicit and explicit faith.

    Private revelations do not add to our faith.

    I think you must be misquoting Vincent of Lerins. I can't find that in the Commonitorium, from which it is supposed to come according to the various internet sites that claim to quote it.

    On the contrary, Vincent says: 'Let that which formerly was believed, though imperfectly apprehended, as expounded by you be clearly understood.'

    And in chapter 23: 'But some one will say, perhaps, Shall there, then, be no progress in Christ's Church? Certainly; all possible progress. … Yet on condition that it be real progress, not alteration of the faith.

    Comparing the growth in understanding to that of a human body, he says: 'Men when full grown have the same number of joints that they had when children; and if there be any to which maturer age has given birth these were already present in embryo, so that nothing new is produced in them when old which was not already latent in them when children. This, then, is undoubtedly the true and legitimate rule of progress,'

    And how about this: 'the Church of Christ, the careful and watchful guardian of the doctrines deposited in her charge, never changes anything in them, never diminishes, never adds'.

    Please read chapter 22 and 23. I really think it says the opposite to what you are claiming.

    The web address is: http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/3506.htm