Monday, June 30, 2014

The Supreme Court Ruling: End of an Error?

Back in January, 2012 I first wrote on the announced HHS mandate. It was an appalling realization that our government actually preferred to place its ideology over the freedom of religion enshrined in the Constitution and was willing to force their decision.

In the 2 1/2 years since I wrote about this violation of the Constitution, we've witnessed the Church vilified because she stood up against the kulturkampf by the state and the cultural elites.

This morning, we heard from the Supreme Court. I admit that I was surprised. After the Court's position on the defense of marriage, I wasn't expecting a just ruling.

But we got one. So, now we can relax,  right?

Not quite yet. The ruling answered some of our concerns, but the role of Church run universities, hospitals, charities, and self-insured Catholic businesses is still in question. Catholic religious orders, institutions and businesses still have concerns to be addressed.

Also the ruling was based on the RFRA, not the Constitution. So if a future Supreme Court strikes it down, what we have we can lose. Remember DOMA was struck down, and judges across the country are using that bad decision to overturn laws protecting traditional marriage

As the old saying goes, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.

That means continuing to pray and continuing to work—in the short term for just decisions. In the long term for conversion of America.

There's no time to be slacking off. This is where our work begins, not ends.

Monday, June 23, 2014

More Thoughts on Judging

I have a friend who on occasion asks questions about the Catholic faith that on the surface seem simple, but on reflection actually have fascinating implications and makes me seek a deeper understanding of an aspect of the faith. This is another one of those times.  I imagine if it were not for his questions, my faith would be shallower and so would this blog. 


He asks me about the Pope's recent sermon on judgment in light of his strong words against the Mafia this weekend: 


The Pope himself just judged the actions of the mafia and excommunicated them. He must see that as a different form of judgment? 


In general,  the whole idea of not judging is a tough one to get my head around. Clearly, there are times that we should stand up against a wrong that is being done and clearly as Christians there are times when correcting a brother or sister is a duty. So when is "judging" allowable? And what is the Pope saying? 


It's a reasonable question. Judgment is a word which is equivocal (having more than one meaning). So if a person means judgment in one way while a second hears the word with another meaning, people will get confused. 


The meanings of Judgment are: 


Judgement (also judgment) 

  ■ noun 

    1      the ability to make considered decisions or form sensible opinions. 

      ▶      an opinion or conclusion. 

      ▶      a decision of a law court or judge. 

Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). 


So, Judgment can mean discernment on one hand, and making a ruling on the other. How does Jesus intend it to be understood? 


In the Gospel reading for today, we see Matthew 7:1-5: 


1 “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. 2 For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. 3 Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? 5 You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.  


New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 7:1–5. 


If we interpret judging in this part of the Gospel to mean "the ability to make considered conclusions" about the right and wrong of an act, then that leads to the absurd conclusion that Jesus contradicts himself (Remember Matthew 11:21 and Matthew 23:13-36 shows Jesus making some very strong denunciations of wrongdoers). He warns us to do good and avoid evil. We cannot do that without making considered conclusions about what acts are good and what acts are evil. 


So much for the modern relativist interpretation. 


But, if we consider the passage to mean "Don't think of yourself as having the authority to determine how God will ultimately sentence this man or woman, don't think you can just write off and ostracize the sinner. You have don't have the authority to judge. Instead you have the obligation to speak out so the person repents (read Ezekiel 33. God warns us that we can't be silent in the face of evil). 


So we can't write off the Catholic politicians who cause scandal. It may turn out that after we try to bring them back, they refuse us, but that doesn't free us from the obligation to try (See Ezekiel 33:7-9). The Christian has to let himself be the tool for God’s grace to reach out to the people of the world who do evil. We can’t be like Jonah in the Old Testament who took off in the opposite direction to avoid giving God’s warning to Nineveh.   


So, to use the recent denunciation of the crimes of the Mafia as an example, I see Pope Francis saying IF you do not repent, THEN you will be damned. The judging would say “This person is not repenting. Therefore he is damned.”  What Pope Francis is saying is judging in the proper sense. He's not writing off the members of this Mafia family as irredeemable. he sees them as in need of salvation and uses his authority as the Vicar of Christ to authoritatively warn them that their actions are in contradiction to the faith they belong to but ignore.   


Or consider another example. On rare occasions, we get a person who gets it in his head that it is OK to target an abortionist for murder. Abortion is wrong. Warning the abortionist that abortion is wrong is not judging in the sense that Christ condemned. Telling him or her that they can repent and turn their lives around is not judgment... 


...but deliberately targeting the individual for murder is being judgmental. It's determining that the abortionist will never change his or her ways and so it is better to kill the person than to try to convert the person. 


The existence of people like Bernard Nathanson and Abby Johnson are examples of why the killing of abortionists is wrong. We cannot know who will repent and who will not. But the reason Jesus forbids us to tear up the weeds is that we might tear up some of the wheat with them:

24 He proposed another parable to them. “The kingdom of heaven may be likened to a man who sowed good seed in his field. 25 While everyone was asleep his enemy came and sowed weeds all through the wheat, and then went off. 26 When the crop grew and bore fruit, the weeds appeared as well. 27 The slaves of the householder came to him and said, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where have the weeds come from?’ 28 He answered, ‘An enemy has done this.’ His slaves said to him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’ 29 He replied, ‘No, if you pull up the weeds you might uproot the wheat along with them. 30 Let them grow together until harvest; then at harvest time I will say to the harvesters, “First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles for burning; but gather the wheat into my barn.” ’ ”


New American Bible, Revised Edition (Washington, DC: The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2011), Mt 13:24–30.

Consider also that if Jesus meant judging in the sense of "the ability to make considered conclusions," then there would be no way to warn a person of evil. Ezekiel 33 would be nonsense. But if Jesus meant it in the sense of  "Don't presume to know the ultimate fate of these men and woman," then the Pope's actions are quite prophetic in the true sense of the word. He's warning these men and women that their actions will have consequences: IF you do not repent, THEN you will not be saved.  


The Judging condemned by Jesus removes the IF... THEN, and changes it to "You do not repent. Therefore you will not be saved. So I'm going to write you off as a loss." 


All of us have the beam in our eye where we must face the warning: IF you do not repent, THEN you will not be saved. If we do not acknowledge and deal with this beam—our own need to repent—how can we guide someone else to repent? 


Hopefully, this is shows that Pope Francis does not contradict himself when on one hand he warns the Mafia and on the other hand speaks against judging. He calls for us to intercede for the sinner as Jesus intercedes for us, but not to take God's role and condemn and carry out the sentence. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Sin, The Mafia, and Us—A Reflection

When adoration of the Lord is substituted by adoration of money, the road to sin opens to personal interest ... When one does not adore the Lord, one becomes an adorer of evil, like those who live by dishonesty and violence. Your land, which so beautiful, knows the signs of the consequences of this sin. The ‘ndrangheta is this: adoration of evil and contempt of the common good. This evil must be fought, must be expelled. It must be told no. The Church, which is so committed to educating consciences, must always expend itself even more so that good can prevail. Our children ask this of us. Our young people ask this of us, they, who need hope. To be able to respond to this demands, faith can help us. Those who in their lives have taken this evil road, this road of evil, such as the mobsters, they are not in communion with God, they are excommunicated! (Pope Francis)


Dearly beloved, my wish is that, as the deacon just said, you may go in peace and find peace in your land…. In the wake of so much suffering, you have the right to live in peace. Those who are guilty of disturbing this peace have many human victims on their conscience. They must understand that killing innocent human beings cannot be allowed. God once said, “You shall not kill.” No man, no human association, no mafia can change or trample on this most sacred right of God…. In the name of the crucified and risen Christ, of Christ who is the Way and the Truth and the Life, I say to those who are responsible for this: “Repent! God’s judgment will come some day!” (St. John Paul II. May 12, 1993)

The public finds the Pope's words condemning the Mafia to be exciting: the Church is taking a public stand against those who do great evil.

The public, on the other hand, finds the words of the Church to be unimportant—or even offensive—when the Church speaks out on sexual or economic sins.

I find that curious. When the Church speaks about the crimes of the Mafia, he is warning the members that their actions are wrong in the eyes of God, and they will pay the price on the day of judgment unless they repent of their evil--they cannot think that their other actions mitigate the evil done.

But when the Church speaks out about the evil we do, the result is to either dismiss the message about our need to repent, or else to respond to the message with hostility.

But the same authority—given to the Church by Christ—that speaks out against the Mafia, also warns us that our own sins are wrong in the eyes of God and that we will pay the price on the day of judgment unless we repent of our evil. We cannot think that the other actions we do mitigate the evil we do.

I believe we can fall into the same error as the Mafia. We justify what we do, or don't think of it. Or we get angry at the messenger. (When St. John Paul II condemned the Mafia in Sicily, their response was a car bomb near a Church.) But these responses do not change the fact that if we choose to do evil, we put our soul in jeopardy.

Then there's the irony of the fact that a people who like to misuse Matthew 7:1 by saying "we should never judge sins," having no problem with the Church speaking against the sins of the Mafia. If the Pope can speak out on these issues, he can certainly speak out on the sins of the rest of us. Yet, the modern world cheers when the Pope says something they like, and ignores him when he says something they don't.

Perhaps people should think on that. Does one think that he is a person of holiness?  If so, why not consider his holiness and wisdom when he speaks on other issues? If one thinks he's just an old coot in a bathrobe who should mind his own business, why care about what he says on anything?

I think the ultimate problem is that we only want to hear the Church go after other people. Liberals want to hear the Church denouncing the evils of Republicans and their politicians. Conservatives want to hear the Church denounce the evils of liberals and their politicians.

Nobody wants to be reminded of our own behavior being contrary to what God calls us to be. But this is what we need to hear. Just as the Mafia members need to hear that their sins endanger their souls, we need to hear about our own.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Loss of Logic, Loss of Freedom: Reflections on the American Situation


The Church is kicking off its Fortnight for Freedom as of today. While America is not in the same place as Sudan or China to be sure, we do seem to be getting closer to the Kulturkampf of 19th century Germany. The Church is seen as a threat, with both government and society behaving in a hostile manner.


I have no doubt that Christians in countries where persecution is overt and brutal would rather be in our shoes than theirs. But since America prides itself for loving freedom, and since large attacks on freedom come from smaller attacks, certainly we have the right to speak out before the persecution becomes overt and physical.

The problem we are seeing in America is a loss in logic and the ability to reason. People don't see that if one makes a stand for tolerance, that means tolerating what they do not like. So if Christians are expected to be tolerant of what we dislike, it logically follows that those who dislike Christian moral beliefs must also be tolerant of those beliefs But that's not the case.

Instead, we see people demanding that Christians tolerate their views, but refuse to tolerate the view of Christians. In other words, they are what they accuse us of being!

Contradictory Relativism

If there are no moral absolutes AND it is acceptable for a person to be fired for acting in accordance with his religious beliefs if his religious beliefs are deemed offensive by someone who files a complaint,  THEN it follows that a person may also be fired for acting in accordance with his secular beliefs if his secular beliefs are deemed offensive by someone in his work place who files a complaint. (Ironically, some people don't accept that it can work both ways.)

When moral absolutes are denied, the sole rule of judgment is whatever those in power approve of. Whatever runs afoul of those preferences may be attacked. Basically,  it's an attitude of "Do good to my friends and harm to my enemies." Socrates is doubtlessly spinning in his grave that something he refuted about 2500 years ago is making a comeback.

The problem is, if that is the only standard, then the person who uses this view can have no complaint when the wheel turns and those on the bottom come out on top while those on top turn out to be on the bottom. The only standard then can be, "The ends justify the means," and there is no way to object if your opponents use this same tactic against you.

This can only be avoided if one recognizes that there are objective values which determine right and wrong.

Now, IF one wants to argue that their standards are to be followed and those of his/her opponent are to be rejected, it means that those standards are being treated as objective values, and we can ask, "On what basis do you hold your standards are true?"

That leads the person who was arguing that living in accordance with Christian values can justly get the believer fired has a dilemma to face:

  1. If there are no objective truths, then there is nothing wrong with religious values and nothing right about secular values.
  2. If there are objective truths, then the champion of secular values has the same burden of proof for their views as the champion of religious values has.

The problem is that the person attacking religious values wants it both ways.

  • They say there are no objective values  when they are rejecting religious values.
  • But when it comes to taking action against their opponents, their views are presumed true and therefore their opponents can be legitimately opposed.

Robert P. George, in his book, Conscience and Its Enemies, points out:

There is a truth all too rarely adverted to in contemporary “culture war” debates— namely, that deep philosophical ideas have unavoidable and sometimes quite profound implications for public policy and public life. Anyone who takes a position on, say, the ethics of abortion and euthanasia, or the meaning and proper definition of marriage, is making philosophical (e.g., metaphysical and moral) assumptions— assumptions that are contested by people on the other side of the debate. The temptation, of course, is to suppose that “I'm not making any controversial assumptions ; only the people on the other side are doing that.” But this is absurd. All of us make philosophical assumptions— about the human good, human nature, human dignity, and many other crucial matters. One objective of this book is to show that these assumptions— our own assumptions, not just the other guy's— have important consequences, and that we should all be prepared to examine them critically.

George, Robert P. (2013-06-10). Conscience and Its Enemies: Confronting the Dogmas of Our Age (American Ideals and Institutions) (Kindle Locations 87-94). ISI Books. Kindle Edition.

It's a good point. This kind of view makes the champion of secular values the judge, jury and executioner. He or she determines the charge, decides the guilt and carries out the sentence—purely on their own say so.

The irony is, what they are accusing us of is what they are guilty of being:

  • Judgmental
  • Bigoted
  • Self Righteous

They are Judgmental because they accuse us of holding our positions out of deliberate bad will.

They are Bigoted because they refuse to consider that their preconceptions about us may not be true.

They are Self Righteous because they assume their motivations are without fault when compared to their opponents.

To avoid these charges, it requires honest investigation into what is believed by an opponent and why he or she believes it.

Some Reflections on SOME

Knowing the difference between some, none and all seems to be forgotten today.

Dialogues between people who hold and people who reject Christian values may actually reveal that SOME Christians hold their values for bad reasons--reasons the champion of secular values justly find offensive. But SOME means exactly that. By saying SOME, we neither have enough information to say ALL, nor to say SOME ARE NOT.

Some A is B 2

When we say "Some A is B" we only know about the unshaded part of A. No more. You certainly can't say that the unshaded part is ALL of A.

Saying SOME provides enough information to say "This portion of A has this characteristic," but does not provide enough information to draw any conclusions about the rest of Group A. This is why indicting all religious believers on the basis of the Westboro Baptist Church is bad logic. The WBC is SOME of the group "Christians" and the whole of the group "Christians" cannot be judged on the basis of what is known about SOME.

Stereotypes are not only morally repugnant, but they're logically wrong. The fact that SOME Muslims are terrorists cannot lead to the conclusion that ALL are terrorists. The fact that SOME African American Males are felons cannot lead to the conclusion that ALL are felons. Thus, the fact that SOME religious believers are intolerant cannot lead us to the conclusion that ALL are intolerant.

But turning SOME into ALL is exactly what is being done when it is proclaimed that ALL opposition to "gay marriage" is intolerant. People are making a universal conclusion out of what is only partial data--assuming without proof that just because the sample I have encountered is intolerant, the whole group must share the intolerance.

The False Dilemma Fallacy Revisited (ad infinitum)

This kind of reasoning that the whole shares the guilt of the part through the False Dilemma fallacy. The claim is made that Either a person supports "gay marriage" or is intolerant (either A or B). That kind of thinking fails to consider that a person may choose Option C, Both A and B or Neither A nor B. If one of these options is possible, then the claim "Either A or B" is a false dilemma.

The false dilemma in this case is the assumption that there can be no opposition to "gay marriage" that is not intolerant. That assumes a lot that needs to be proven. Let's think of this: Is all opposition to war or theft or murder intolerance? No. Why? Because a person can believe that certain behavior is wrong without being intolerant of the person committing it. One can still love a family member that a person believes is living in the wrong way. The behavior is thought to be wrong, but the family member is not despised because he or she acts in this way.

The same is true concerning homosexual acts. One can think they are wrong, but not hate the person who commits these acts.

Begging the Question fallacy

Sometimes, at this point, a person might say that the opposition to "gay marriage" is itself intolerant because it supports discriminates against people who carry out homosexual acts. But think about the charges...

  • Opposition to "gay marriage" is rooted in intolerance
  • Denying the right to "gay marriage" denies homosexuals the same rights that heterosexuals have.
  • Denial of "gay rights" is the same thing as the denial of civil rights of minorities.

These claims all have something in common. They all assume that the statement is proven when actually the proof of the assertion is needed.

Circular Reasoning

Related is the circular reasoning, which holds that Christian values are intolerant. Basically, we have a two step:

  • Christian teaching on traditional marriage is based in intolerance.
  • Why is that?
  • Because it refuses to recognize that "gay marriage" is good.
  • Why don't they think it's good?
  • Because they're intolerant.

This kind of argument can never break out of repeating "supporters of traditional marriage are intolerant." The reply to the request for explanation is the same statement repeated.

It never gets into demonstrating why the Christian teaching is intolerant. It merely presumes it must be because if they weren't intolerant, they wouldn't believe what they do.

Of course, if they were to try to demonstrate why we were intolerant, their arguments would be open to evaluation and refutation. But, "You're a bigot" isn't even an argument. It's an unproven accusation... and unproven accusations are not legitimate reason to fire a person or sue a person or prosecute a person.


What we have in America today is a system of denunciations. If a person will not accept the secular morality, he or she can be denounced to the employer, to the courts, to the government. In these denunciations, there is no attempt to prove that the accusation of "intolerance" is true. The mere holding of the belief is assumed to be a confession of guilt. The result is either a renunciation or suffering the consequences.

That's not the behavior of a free country. That's the behavior of the shameful parts of our history—the Salem Witch Trials for example, and parts of the history of unfree countries. (Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany etc.)

The fact is, Christians are being denounced for following their beliefs, and those who dislike these beliefs are able to get away with causing legal and social repercussions.

The irony is, the Pope of a Church long accused of being a totalitarian anti-freedom institution has a better understanding of the American concept of Religious Freedom than those political and cultural elites of today when he said:

Religious freedom, he said, is not simply freedom of thought or private worship. It is the freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly, consequent to the truth one has found.

Intolerance is the “great challenge of the globalized world, a sickness, in which weak thought even reduces the general ethical level, in the name of a false concept of tolerance that ends up persecuting those who defend the truth on humanity and its ethical consequences,” the Pope said.

Legal systems, at both a national and international level, are required to recognize, guarantee and protect religious freedom, which is a right inherent in human nature, in man's dignity as a free being. They also serve as indicators of healthy democracies and legitimize states, he said.

The "freedom to live according to ethical principles, both privately and publicly" is kind of the point of the First Amendment. The fact that our rights don't only apply to the government not arresting us is kind of the point of the Civil Rights movement and the Civil Rights Act. Otherwise, it would be legitimate to fire or refuse to hire a person (or refuse to serve a person in a business, or allow them the right to post their views on a site, or get housing… you get the point) based on ethnicity or gender etc.

But the standard is:

  1. Bigotry cannot be tolerated
  2. Christians are bigots
  3. Therefore Christians cannot be tolerated

Talk about a self-contradiction! If bigotry is intolerance (the two terms are used interchangeably) and bigotry cannot be tolerated than the intolerance against Christians cannot be tolerated. That's one example of the lack of logic and reason being used to harass Christians.

But it's more than that. Christians are being accused without proof and being ostracized because of that accusation. But the lack of logic and reason means that people don't even question whether the assertions are proven or not. Even by their own standards, If the accusations are not proven to be true, it would be unjust to ostracize us just because our beliefs are unpopular.

That's where America is experiencing a loss of freedom. Because a charge can be made without proof and because the elites of America don't like the Christian moral beliefs, the charges of intolerance can be made against Christian beliefs and the person who holds them can be ostracized, sued or prosecuted on the grounds that they live in accordance with these beliefs.

It doesn't matter that most Christians find the antics of the WBC offensive. The fact that we believe certain behaviors are morally wrong is enough for us to be condemned for having the same motives as the WBC.

Until people become aware of the lack of logic and reason in the accusations against us, we can expect religious liberty to continue to decline in America.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Reading What the Magisterium Says Critically


I mentioned the other day that I had problems with certain bloggers who were Catholic—ones who presumed they had superior knowledge to the ones they criticized on whatever topic. One of my offhand comments could be summed up as "...and your qualifications to judge are...?" A person must know about the subject he or she is speaking about and also must know what the subject intended to say. Otherwise, the reliability of the critic is very much in doubt--even if he or she is knowledgeable in other areas.

I can say this because I have been there. In the early Xanga days of this blog, I was quite contemptuous of the American bishops. I thought they were largely idiots with a liberal bent. I bought into and spread that attitude. (Those articles have been no longer available ever since the original Xanga went defunct, and though I recovered my files, those particular articles will never see the light of day again).

My conversion of attitude came from a combination of reading Christus Dominus and witnessing the response of the bishops to the 2008 visit of Pope Benedict XVI. In these events, I was reminded that the bishops are the successors to the Apostles and I saw that the bishops were strengthened by the visit of the Pope—that they had been previously demoralized by their facing continuous dissent.

From that perspective, I found that many of their documents which I previously dismissed as worthless did have good things to say.  I recognized that my problem was I accepted what others said about the bishops without evaluating if what they said was correct.

I think it's a real issue to consider: the concept of critically assessing what members of the Magisterium say vs. what bloggers and news sources think they say.


The first issue is context. When facing news reports or a blog speaking on what the Pope or bishops said on an issue, my first question is to ask "What is the context of what was reported?" The thing is, even news agencies and bloggers of good will can only quote so much. So they try to pick what they think is the most important part.

The problem is, the quote might require some more of the article to get the full sense of what was said. The news reporter or blogger might actually be editing in good faith. He or she might think that the quote represents the whole statement accurately.  But, if you ever come across a WTF? moment where a quote sounds bizarre, the odds are very good that something got left out.

Interpretation and Intention

Another part of critical assessment is making sure that the interpretation of what was said matches the intent of what the speaker or writer was trying to say.

It is a problem today that people try to interpret a statement based on what they believe.  But that's exactly the opposite of what we must do. When a person uses a term, we have to understand what it means to the writer/speaker.

Here's an example. When St. John XXIII wrote his encyclical Pacem in Terris, many interpreted what he had to say on the topic of peace as if he was supporting the Soviet meaning of the term because the Soviets spoke constantly about peace in a way that benefited them. But that wasn't what St. John XXIII meant.

Or consider how people interpret Matthew 7:1ff. People who don't want to have their behavior declared wrong interpret judging to mean saying something is right or wrong. But that's a meaning imposed by the reader. It would be wrong to blame the Scripture verses for a meaning not intended.

The thing is, we interpret a text or speech based on what  the speaker/author intends and critique it based on our own views. This means that before we critique, we have to make sure that we interpret correctly. Bad Interpretation, bad critique.


The thing we always have to remember is when we read an article written about a bishop or about the Pope, we have to consider whether the person who wrote the article has fully addressed what the bishop or Pope actually had to say about the subject or whether or not the author omitted something important—it doesn't have to be malicious omission.

We must also remember that even when we do see the quotes do exist in context, we have to ask whether the blogger commenting or the reader of the Papal statement has in fact interpreted the article as saying what the Pope intended it to say. If the critic or reader has not correctly interpreted the article or statement, then the criticism is starting from a false assumption. If the premises are false, the conclusion is not proven true.

Recognizing these things, we have to realize our responsibility as a reader to accurately understand what was actually said and what was intended before judging the Magisterium for doing wrong—it might turn out the fault is not with the Pope or Bishop after all.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Thoughts on What I Hate About Catholics Blogging

During the last year, I have noticed some Catholics who are bloggers have gotten downright nasty in their behavior. Whether it's a case of making oneself the judge of bishops (or the Pope) or a case of making oneself a judge of other Catholics who act differently than the blogger in places where individual discretion is allowed, these bloggers have a tendency to talk condescendingly about those they disagree with. For example...

  • Those silly bishops who think that the current minimum wage is unjustly low! Don't they get economics? (Maybe not, but why should we think YOU know as much or more than them?)
  • Those stupid right wing dupes who thought the Iraq War was just! How can they call themselves Catholic? (Umm, because then Cardinal Ratzinger said that St. John Paul II's words on that war was not intended to be understood as a binding teaching?)
  • Those heretical neo Catholics who like the "Novus ordo" Mass! Don't they know what Pope X said about the Mass? (Listen pal... I rather doubt you know anything more about what Pope X said or even who he even was outside of the information you got on a radical traditionalist website.)

These are exaggerations of positions taken by some Catholic blogs—but unfortunately not as exaggerated as you might think.

I think people should remember that the authority to bind and loose is given to the Pope (Matt 16:19) and the bishops in communion with him (Matt 18:18). The blogger does not have the authority to loose what the Church has bound, nor bind what the Church has loosed. So when the blogger writes on such matters he or she should seek to distinguish between what is Church teaching and what is the blogger's personal opinion.

The reason I say that is there are Catholics out there who are seeking to be faithful and are looking for Catholics they trust to help them understand their faith. The Catholic who blogs needs to make clear that while he (for example) dislikes the Ordinary Form of the Mass, his views on it being harmful are his opinion and not the Catholic teaching.

I think there needs to be a distinction drawn between "Catholic Blog" and "Blogging by a person who is Catholic." The former seeks to discuss the Catholic faith in whatever area their blog focuses on, doing his or her best to express the faith accurately and helpfully. The latter can blog whatever the hell he wants, but his opinions should not be considered as necessarily reflecting the Catholic position.

If the blogger will not do this, and abuses the association of being Catholic to promote his or her own view as if they had more authority than they actually do. Otherwise, perhaps the Bishops might have to invoke Canon 216 when it comes to people calling their blogs "Catholic." (I hope it does not come to that):

Can. 216 Since they participate in the mission of the Church, all the Christian faithful have the right to promote or sustain apostolic action even by their own undertakings, according to their own state and condition. Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.

The readers will have to decide for themselves whether I practice what I preach. All I can say is this is what I try to do when I write.