After my fortnight doing Parish Duty on Alderney, and thinking about the controversies which have recently surrounded blogging, I have two conclusions to share with you.
1. Attacking living people. I think this should always be done temperately, if at all. Normally, and, preferably, it should be done without making things personal by using names. But this cannot unambiguously apply when a person deliberately puts himself in the public eye. The Diocesan Director of Liturgy who wrote a letter, on his office notepaper, to all his clergy, with copy to the Tablet, can hardly be deemed a shrinking and vulnerable violet at the edge of a field ... I like to throw in occasional allusions for readers of Sappho ... OK; he got a rocket from his bishop; so is that an end of the matter? Not necessarily. Because what he did represents a mind profoundly out of sympathy with the current liturgical law of the Church. It raises the question of whether he is suitable to do his job. I would not, for example, expect a bishop to make me a diocesan director of Novus Ordo Liturgy, in view of my known dislike of those post-conciliar liturgical innovations which explicitly or implicitly contradict the mandates of Vatican II. I would not have an appropriate mind for the job. And ... I don't know what's happened in the case of the Tablet Rome correspondent; but the question is not whether he has been rebuked, or has even apologised, but of the mind which he manifested.
2. Anonymity/Pseudonymity. I don't like it. I think people should put their (real) names to what they do. Especially if they wish to express themselves strongly; even more so if they wish to attack vigorously, even for plausible reasons, another named person. I accept that there can be exceptions justifying anonymity; a scholar may wish to float an idea without being held to it in foro academico ... I have been told that some Catholic priests and seminarians are afraid of their bishops or seminary rectors reading their views ... I don't think this says much for the health of the culture concerned, but, well, there you go ... Anyway; I have decided that attacks on other living people will not be accepted on this blog, even when thoroughly justified, if the comment is anonymous.
Another side of the anonymity problem: it is rumoured that one bishop acted against a blogger who is a subject of his, as the result of continuous pressure from other bishops; and rumour has it that Cardinal Mueller made those remarks about Ordinariate bloggers because of pressure from bishops, whether American, Australian, or English. I have not the faintest idea whether such rumours of anonymous episcopal back-stabbing have any truth in them whatsoever, but were [imperfect subjunctive] this to be so, my opinion is ...
... it would provide the world with an attractive picture of a modern, open, inclusive, grown-up Catholic community at ease with itself and with modern ways if any bishops so concerned devised less Byzantine methods for expressing their views. They could try actually talking to bloggers. But I hope that the rumours, in each case, are as maliciously untrue as rumours so often are.
Not long ago, I was in a European capital city, to say some Masses for the Latin Mass community there and to give a couple of lectures. The Bishop of the city invited me to breakfast; before breakfast, I said Mass in his private chapel: all laid out for the Vetus Ordo. His lordship most graciously served my EF Mass. After a truly sumptuous breakfast, he drove me round some of the more spectacular churches of the city.
True xenia, true episcopal hospitality in the spirit of the Fathers! It is a sort of thing that leaves an extremely pleasant taste in the mouth, in more senses than one.