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Should there be a Guild of Catholic Bloggers? And would it be dominated by ‘Taliban Catholics’?

Yes, there should: but let’s knock this ‘Taliban’ stuff on the head

By on Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Blogger Michael Voris is the keynote speaker at The*Other* Rome Blognic

Blogger Michael Voris is the keynote speaker at The*Other* Rome Blognic

Two website pieces on “Catholic must-reads” caught my attention yesterday: they are not entirely unconnected, I think. The first was the suggestion by “a reluctant sinner” (I couldn’t find the author’s name on his blog) that there should be a guild of Catholic bloggers.

The first question that occurs to me is this: what would be such a blog’s general complexion? There have been, from “liberal” quarters (note the inverted commas) dark grumblings about the “Catholic blogosphere” as being irredeemably reactionary (incidentally, there’s a word that could do with a bit of reclaiming: what’s wrong with reacting against undesirable developments?).

The other piece (on the website Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism) is a protest by its writer, Jane Mossendew, against such reactionaries calling themselves by the liberal insult “Taliban Catholic” (an illiberal term invented by the normally moderate and genuinely liberal commentator John L Allen of the National Catholic Distorter – sorry, Reporter).

This is how Miss or Mrs Mossendew (how I wish I were called “Mossendew” rather than “Oddie”) puts it: “Now stop it you lot! A joke’s a joke among friends, but you are using the phrase more than the people who coined it as a tasteless, even spiteful insult to orthodox Catholics. If we’re not careful ‘Taliban Catholic’ risks entry in a future Oxford Dictionary as follows: ‘American journalistic phrase coined circa 2010, descriptive of orthodox Catholics (defunct). One who supported the papacy of Benedict XVI. Accepted by traditional Catholics as an estimate of their rigid, repressive and inhumane position’.”

John Allen, to be fair, isn’t himself entirely happy about having invented the term. This is how he explains himself. At a university meeting in Dallas, he spoke of the existence of two polarities in Catholic opinion: “On the one extreme lies what my friend and colleague George Weigel correctly terms ‘Catholicism Lite,’ meaning a watered-down, sold-out form of secularised religiosity, Catholic in name only. On the other is what I call ‘Taliban Catholicism’, meaning a distorted, angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the TV sets of the modern world.’

“Some in the audience chuckled, but others weren’t so amused. One younger faculty member rose during the Q&A period to offer a thoughtful, and heartfelt, challenge:

” ‘To say things with clarity is not to be the Catholic Taliban,’ she said, adding that she found the phrase ‘profoundly offensive.’

” ‘There are no suicide bombers in the Catholic church,’ she said, ‘but we have had an epidemic of Catholicism Lite for the last 30 years.’ Younger Catholics, she insisted, should not be dismissed as fanatics simply because they seek ‘fidelity and clarity’.”

Quite right, in my opinion. But how come the term became so quickly accepted as an apt and permissible jibe by anti-orthodox Catholics? I suspect that, ironically, it’s a kind of back-handed tribute; the Taliban, after all, is turning out to be pretty effective: all the military might of the American-led operation in Afghanistan hasn’t smashed it yet. The Taliban has kept up with modern tactics and armaments, just as it’s the orthodox counter-revolution in the Church, rather than its enemies, who have most effectively seized the opportunities of the blogosphere.

Which brings me back to the two pieces I began by discussing.

I was right about the probable complexion of the proposed new guild of Catholic bloggers: Thoughts from an Oasis in French Catholicism, which has now declared itself in support of the guild, describes itself as “An Oasis in French, English and Welsh Catholicism.… dedicated to the support of His Holiness Benedict XVI through prayer-based apostolic action. Traditional Roman Catholic and loyally obedient to his authority as Successor of Peter”; and according to “reluctant sinner” himself (or herself), the proposed guild now has the support of Fr Tim Finigan: enough said.

Now: back to this apparently strange phenomenon, of some Catholic counter revolutionaries adopting the insult “Taliban Catholic” as a badge of honour. The trouble is that that would be taken as implying that we actually agree with the Taliban on some very nasty ideas, like forbidding the education of girls and the employment (and general liberation) of women. There are far too many aggressive secularist slurs against the Catholic Church for its supposed suppression of women for the joke to be even remotely funny: too many idiotic suggestions within the Church, too, that this is precisely what’s implied by an all-male priesthood.

If a liberal insult is to be adopted, I wouldn’t mind being called a “reactionary” because of its widespread use against people who, in Jane Mossendew’s formulation, are “loyally obedient to [Pope Benedict’s] authority as Successor of Peter” (it’s necessary to add that last pro-papal qualification, since not all those who would describe themselves as “traditional Roman Catholics” actually believe in being “loyally obedient to his authority”. And the trouble with that, I suppose, is that they’re more reactionary than I am: I just react against so-called liberals (and particularly against their illiberality); but some reactionaries react against papal authority as well. It’s all very confusing. What about distinguishing between single and double reactionaries? Alternatively, let’s call the whole thing off.

Meanwhile, the guild appears to be gathering support. It certainly has mine: there are great possibilities here. It’s already come up, I suggest, against one possible snag: that as so far conceived it seems, on the face of, it to go against the very nature of the blogosphere.

It all seems to be being conceived as a distinctly earth-bound and national rather than, like the blogosphere, operating supra-nationally in cyberspace: “The proposed Guild for Catholic Bloggers,” says “reluctant sinner”, “would need active members and a few officers – chair, secretary and treasurer – so would have to be limited to those bloggers from this country (UK), or those able to travel to Britain … The Guild might also wish to find a president, and a chaplain to celebrate its annual Mass”.

All that “chair, secretary and treasurer” stuff (not “chair”, please) seems a bit bureaucratic, maybe. Maybe not. I really don’t want to be unhelpful, I write tentatively: but couldn’t something be thought up so that the whole thing would operate essentially in cyberspace? Masses could be said internationally, in different countries: there could even be online meetings of a sort. As for officers, they could – if still thought necessary – be suggested and voted for online.

Don’t ask me how, I’m no nerd: but there must be Catholic nerds out there who could make sensible suggestions about how, technically, it might all be organised. I end uncertainly: this needs more thought, from as many people as possible. Thus, inconclusively, ends this post; not with a bang but with queries to which I have no answers.

  • Anonymous

    Excuse me – do you actually know what happened at the Oratory?

    If you did you’d be fighting for the Birmingham Three as well!!!

    …and I know all about Jackie’s dealings with the Oratory – and suggest you retract that calumny.

  • Anonymous

    In fairness you have not lies Paul, but you have been abusive and rude and arrogant, your usual self really!

  • Anonymous

    Is there ever a time you do not talk about your children Jackie, all ten of them and of course one is a Doctor!

  • Anonymous

    Austin is one of the good guys, head and shoulders above you Paul. You and James Preece are constantly insulting him because you were turned down for Catholic Voices. I would say that he and Jack made a first class decision there.

  • Anonymous

    Paul is no priest he stacks skelves in Asda for a living, he comes on the blogs and pretends that he is, sad really.

  • Anonymous

    Well, we had better get you onto the Bishops Conference Paul and you can tell them all where exactly they are going wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Stop with this FR. Paul business. The man is not a priest in any manner shape or form!

  • Anonymous

    Absolutely right! The traditionalist?Orthodox Catholics are the worst! They have an awful arogance about them. They hold no loyalty to their own Bishops, believing they can be loyal only to Rome. They are sick people and the Priests are the worst!

  • Anonymous

    Bit early for you to be drinking the stock isn’t it Ma’am?

  • Anonymous

    Who are we to institute corrective measures, we are not Bishops!

  • Anonymous

    A libel Ma’am – I have always said on here that I was a shelf-stacker ; and only a few weeks ago i made it perfectly clear to Dr Oddie and anyone who reads his postings that Paul Priest is simply my name.

  • Anonymous

    Now why would I do that when I can could be on the blogs being stalked and harangued by the reincarnation of Agrippina?

  • Anonymous

    I am afraid that reluctant Sinner is deluded if he thinks this idea will actually work. there are far too many factions among Catholic Bloggers. There will always be the extreme Taliban blogging contingent, The sanctimonious Orthodox traddies and the Celebrity Priest Bloggers, all very different with different ideas of what it is to be a Catholic. So, nice try RS but no cigar!

  • Anonymous

    Oh Scarpa – you wee scallywag! I know something you don’t know…tick…tick…tick

  • Clare James

    Yes, I know exactly what happened at the Oratory. I also know the key players and obviously a lot more about that situation than you do! What happened at The Oratory was shameful. Fr Gareth Jones aided by Jackie Parkes and a few others have much to answer for. So, drop the holier than thou attitude Paul because on this occassion…guess what…you do not have all the facts.

  • Anonymous

    The truth cannot be calumny Paul. Jackie and James were like rabid dogs at the time and did an awful lot of damage.

  • Anonymous

    Scarpa – would you care to tell the ladies and gentlemen who you are and why you’re attacking me ? I think thery’d find the reason very interesting…and it would very much prove my point.

  • Anonymous

    Isn’t it funny how you always use the same trick of misspelling Dr Ivereigh’s name to make it look like you don’t know him personally Ma’am?

  • Anonymous

    As Chesterton said “There are two types of people : the bored & the boring” I’m quite proud of being so interested in people and things and life that I bore others in the process…but God, who says to the Sun as it rises “do it again – do it again’ for the many trillionth time must be boring to some…

  • Anonymous

    “If a critic tells a particular lie, that particular lie can be pointed out. If he misses a specific point, that point can be explained. If he is really wrong in this or that, it will be on this or that that the insulted person will eagerly pounce. But “malice and spite” are vague words which will never be used except when there is really nothing to pounce on. If a man says that I am a dwarf, I can invite him to measure me. If he says I am a cannibal, I can invite him to dinner. If he says I am a coward, I can hit him. If he says I am a miser, I can give him half-a-sovereign. But if he says I am fat and lazy (which is true), the best I can answer is that he speaks out of malice and spite. Whenever we see that phrase, we may be almost certain that somebody has told the truth about somebody else.” [GKC}

  • Anonymous

    er..I don’t think you do…although if you’re so certain that we’re the guilty parties…pray telll!!!

  • Anonymous

    ok – so what is the crime of the Birmingham 3 ?

  • Anonymous

    Oh I’m a sinful failure and waste of space Ma’am; always the first to admit it – but we mustn’t let our failings convince us the roof has caved in should we?

  • Caroline Farrow

    With the greatest of respect I think you miss the point. I am not a “Catholic blogger” but a Catholic who blogs, there is a subtle difference.

    If every single Catholic Bishop blogged there would be a huge diversity of opinion and the Catholic Church, like any large institution will have separate groups of people with differing ideas. We see this illustrated in practice by the various religious orders. None of them claim to be more “Catholic” than another. Indeed the Catholic Church allows for a broad diversity of opinion on some matters, we are not all called to behave or think identically on every single issue, other than what is outlined in the Catechism.

    Surely the idea of a guild should be for fellowship and support, the mutual exchange of ideas and experiences as opposed to reaching formal consensus on issues such as liturgy. To suggest that a group of Christians cannot put theological differences aside feeds into the secular narrative. Surely we must aim for Caritas?

    I have to endorse Paul’s suggestion whole-heartedly, surely life issues must be an area which we all have in common and bloggers must unite under this umbrella. I see so much frustration and hopelessness both on the blogosphere and in real life, it makes me weep. People are desperate to do something but they don’t know what and thus resort to well-meaning but ultimately futile gestures. This has to change and Catholic bloggers are a vital resource and tool.

    Surely hope and fellowship, not despondency and cynicism lie at the root of the Christian faith?

  • Anonymous

    Yes Scarpa – a REAL one…

  • Anthony Murphy

    Then why come on a Catholic blog with the name “priest”? Even if that is your real name, you dont need to be using as a screen-name on a Catholic forum.

  • CatholicBlogger

    “It would be nice to see a single web site where instead of the errant views,outside Traditional Catholic tradition and all the attachments thereof that those who are such could read and enhance the Love of the Catholic Church”

    One website that promotes good stories about the Catholic Church is jlpressagency.com, though I suspect this post will br removed.

  • Petrus

    This is a crazy post. A grave sin to question a historical event? Since when? Provide a source that shows this is what the Church teaches….

  • Petrus

    Who cares?

  • Petrus

    A priest should be first and foremost obedient to the Faith.

  • Petrus

    Do you support the Soho Masses?

  • Quareitur

    Is “Scarpa” on Ivereigh towers?

  • Anonymous

    if by hyper-reactionary you are referring to Petrus and EditorCT I will agree [incidentally has anyone else noticed that I used the word Jansenist against EditorCT one day - and Ivereigh uses it in America magazine the next to attack 'taliban' Catholics like myself? Coincidence?]

    If you are referring to myself – I of course do not agree – I simply ask my Bishops and those clerics and laity who exercise their apostolic executive power via conference quangoes etc – to remain loyal, obedient and adhere to Catholic teachings – especially on fundamental Catholic issues like opposing abortion, euthanasia, population control, extramarital sex, contraception etc – which it has been regrettably irrefutably proven that at present they are most definitely NOT doing…Can you deny that the Liverpool Care Pathway and Connexions have been approved by Conference – do you require the links to the official webpages stating that is the case? Do you wish me to provide you with an email address to campaigner Nicolas Bellord who can provide the evidence that prescribing abortifacients and abortion-referrals are continuing at the Ss John and Elizabeth? Would you like John Smeaton of spuc to personally confirm this state of affairs? Do you require links to the many articles and blog comments where Austen Ivereigh has unequivocally stated that the CDF has not made its position clear on the prophylactic intention in the use of condoms [although it doesn't need to] where he states that condom provision in the developing world is normative ‘Catholic pastoral practice’ ; where he goes beyong Rhonheimer’s argument to argue for the use of condoms for hiv-serodiscordant married couples [thus risking the partner's health and life and contravening the fifth commandment]. Would you care for me to provide you with the Catholic Voices briefing notes which contained both Rhonheimer’s and Ivereigh’s advocacy for the justification of prophylactic intention? These are Life or Death issues Anthony – and I am vehemently appalled that my national Church is contravening magisterial teaching and the Gospels in regards to the sanctity of life from conception to a natural death.

    …is that too much to ask?

    Now one thing you haven’t done is the thing I crave the most : prove me wrong – say this isn’t the reality of the situation – tell me I’m mistaken, or deluded, or stuck in a nightmare and none of this is real…
    Tell me this Country’s Apostles and Shepherds are truly upholding the sanctity of life and I will walk away now and never comment on a Catholic issue again…

    Sadly : You can’t…and that’s why I, and many, many Catholic bloggers and commentators and journalists.continue to plead, to confront, to challenge our hierarchy – until they do the right thing.

    If that makes me a ‘taliban’ or hyper-reactionary in your eyes? Well I’m afraid it is you who has the problem – not myself.

    Why you are attacking Dr Oddie is frankly beyond me; when he has spent this entire thread opposing those whom you personally have repeatedly condemned.

  • Anonymous

    Simple truthful answer? Because my original long-term handle of onthesideoftheangels was lost in the disqus set-up on the Daily Telegraph and is now irretrievable on the disqus system – hence my reverting to my real name. I have constantly made my non-clerical status clear when any confusion has arisen. There is most definitely no duplicity involved on my part.

  • Carlismo

    “Provide a source?” Are you actually asking for a historical source? A holocaust denier asking for sources…Oh the irony! I would but you just deny them as Marxist Forgeries and Jewish Lies, that what you people do.

  • Petrus

    It’s very serious to accuse someone of grave sin. So, show me where the Church teaches it is a grave sin to question the Holocaust?

    I am not a Holocaust denier. I know little and care less about the Holocaust. What I do know is that it cannot be a grave/mortal sin to question it. That’s crazy stuff. If I am wrong, I will humbly admit it. Just prove to me that I am wrong….Over to thee!

  • Carlismo

    You could not care about the holocaust? Why am I not suprised. Did you know that there is documented historical evidence about an event called the crucifixion in a book called The Bible with less proof to back it up than the Holocaust. Do you deny that too?

    Holocaust denial is a sin because if you deny the Nazi Holocaust then by the exact same relativism and selective ignoring of overwelming facts you also deny of the holocaust of the millions of children who have been murdered in the womb. Are you saying denying ABORTION is NOT a sin? Who is to say the numbers of abortions are correct if the numbers Jews who died is up for denial too? In your world everything is purely subjective, all fatcs are up for dabate.

    It’s also a sin because you call thousands of Jews AND CATHOLIC POLES AND CATHOLIC SAINTS liars, it’s a sin because we all know it happend. It puts you directly against great Catholics like Cardinal Von Galen, Kolbe, Stein, Jagersattar…

    On second thoughts, maybe it’s not a sin, perhaps you are just a really, really stupid person of very low intelligence, I really don’t know? You people make me sick, why don’t you, Mel Gibson, Bishop Williamson and Hitler just shuffle off back to your hate-group at St. Andrew’s Sin Glasgow or where ever it is you “worship”. This conversation is beneath me, I’m no longer going to speak to idiots. Go visit Auschwitz you half whit.

  • Catholicus

    I liked the extremes as “Taliban Catholics” and “Tablet Catholics”

  • Profideboostore

    Wrong as usual, EditorCT. “Our primary obedience it to the Faith” is true and false. True, if it is in conformity the Faith of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Church understands it; false if is in conformity with our misguided notion of Faith, the typical example is you.

    “no teaching which deviates to the right or to the left of the Traditional Faith as handed down to us from the apostles, repeated by Pontiffs down the centuries, whether part of the Ordinary or Extraordinary Magisterium, can command our obedience.” Again, true and false. True, if the “Traditional Faith…etc” is in conformity to the Faith of the Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Church understands that conformity; false if is in conformity with our misguided view of that Faith, the typical example is yourself.

    The best example of that mistake is your attitude toward the Assisi event, which is the great act toward restoration of Christian unity for which our Lord prayed on that Night, and you are only interested in perpetuation of the present state of affairs which is a scandal to the non-Christian and non-believing world, obstacle to spreading the Gospel, and keep under an unacceptable check what is supposed to be visible mark of the Church, i.e. her Catholicity, Universality.

    And it is also a great act toward evangelization in accord to the mission Our Lord entrusted to the Apostles; while all you want is to stop it because it doesn’t meet your mistaken view as to how it should be carried out.

    “Which reminds me – “, the EditorCT, what “are you going” to do to bring about the unity of Christians, and evangelize the non-Christians ?

  • AJ

    “Our primary obedience is to the Faith”…is it the FAITH of a version according to your own liking and interpretation? Yes, we are trying hard to be obedient to our Catholic Faith and ONE of those tnets is your submission to the FULL Authority of the Church and Magisterium about Vatican II. Obviously you are not.

  • AJ

    EditorCt said, “Our primary obedience is to the Faith”…is it the FAITH of a version according to your OWN idea and interpretation? Yes, we are trying hard to be obedient to our Catholic Faith and ONE of those tenets is your submission to the FULL Authority of the Church and Magisterium about Vatican II. Obviously you are not.

  • AJ

    Yes, but the REAL question is whose version of the Faith? If it is in conformity with the Faith of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church as the Church understands and interprets it and false if is in conformity with your misguided notion of Faith, the typical example is you.

    EditorCt and Petrus said, “Our primary obedience is to the Faith”…..may I ask, is it the FAITH whose version is according to your OWN idea and interpretation?

    Yes, we are trying hard to be obedient to our Catholic Faith and ONE of those tenets is your submission to the FULL Authority of the Church and Magisterium about Vatican II. Obviously you are not.

  • http://towertales.tumblr.com/ Londonistar

    I would take your cue from libertarians on the web who are well organised and have grouped together on line but remain independenltly minded with bloggers under one badge offering their own views on all manner of subjects and sharing links to fellow lib blogs. The result of which is a thriving libertarian community on line. Caroline Farrow below makes the best observation about what it would comprise. It’s so easy to do

  • DBMcGinnity

    VERY CHARITABLE SENTIMENTS INDEED:It would be wonderful if Catholic blogs reflected the grace, beauty and benignity of this hymn, instead of ungracious, caustic and witless catholic rhetoric. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KtAraKIscI

  • DBMcGinnity

    Second attempt!
    VERY CHARITABLE SENTIMENTS INDEED:It would be wonderful if Catholic blogs reflected the grace, beauty and benignity of this hymn, instead of ungracious, caustic and witless catholic rhetoric.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5KtAraKIscI

  • Anonymous

    DB – obviously you are unaware of what’s going on here and who is involved – Why don’t you read an online copy of catholic Truth Scotland and you might get why I, Dr Oddie, and most of the Catholic blogosphere are sooooo vehemently opposed to it.

  • DBMcGinnity

    Here you are again with your Stephen Potter “One-up-man ship” putdowns. You have made a singular judgement that I do not understand, when in fact I have communicated directly with Catholic Truth Scotland, and your is ‘obviously’ judgement is not correct. I am very aware of Catholic Truth Scotland views that are as good as those of anyone else. Explain why it is obvious that I do not know !! Rather than admonish (rubbish) other people’s opinions, why do you not offer something positive and make your opinions clear instead of by casual insinuation and implication? If in your opinion a person does not understand something, then why do you not enable them to understand rather than blaming them. I have drawn your attention to this characteristic before insofar that you tell people they are wrong, but you do nothing to correct the erroneous information. If you have the impertinence to tell people they are wrong, then in my view you are dutifully obliged to explain why they are wrong, and offer them an alternative solution.