In the chaos of the 1960s, one notable casualty was the Church's system of the censorship of books. This disappearance was, I think, inevitable; in that febrile and aggressive atmosphere, it is inconceivable that the process of waiting for a diocesan Censor Librorum to read a book and make his comments, then for him to negotiate with an author about his/her ambiguities, and to agree a text ... then for the Ordinary or his VG to issue the imprimatur ... it is inconceivable that such a system could have survived. Then add Humanae Vitae and the spate of dissenting books and articles which would have needed to be refused the Nihil obstat ...
There was undoubtedly rejoicing at the disappearance of the pre-modern apparatus of censorship; predictably, especially among 'liberals'.
Clandestinely, this development led to a new and only semi-visible form of censorship. The dominance of certain 'schools' in Academe, especially in subjects such as Liturgy, Biblical Studies, and Moral Theology, made it increasingly difficult to secure publication of ideas which defended or explicated Tradition.
Although the boot was invisible ... it was now on the other foot.
But now comes the paradox. The disappearance of Censorship preceded, at a polite distance, the emergence of the Internet. And in our own age it has become very difficult for anybody to monitor, let alone to control, the myriad ideas and opinions which can flicker across the World's computers. And, among all this material, orthodox and traditional statements and ideas have as free an access as everything else to the many fora of discussion. I very much doubt if the examination and critical assessment of this pontificate would have been as open and free as it has been, had the Internet not existed.
But now ... Synod 2018 Paragraph 146.
"The Synod hopes that in the Church appropriate official bodies for digital culture and evangelisation are established at appropriate levels ... Among their functions ... [could be] certification systems of Catholic sites, to counter the spread of fake news ..."
I very much dislike the look of this. It is no secret that some members of the CBCEW were, for years, very nervous about bloggers and especially clerical bloggers. The disgraceful episcopal suppression of one famous diaconal blog became quite a cause celebre. Management had lost a significant control. It is only a year or two since my friend Fr Ray Blake bravely put on the public record that he had found tanks parked on his lawn: tanks in the shape of his Bishop passing on the cheerful news that "The Cardinal doesn't like ...".
We seem to have come a long way from those broad sunlit uplands when Benedict XVI (remember him? The 'Rat', the 'Inquisitor', the 'Panzer Cardinal'? Yes, that one) encouraged blogging, and especially clerical bloggers. Now, the era of the boors and the bullies.
Shall we, in a few years' time, discover that we have Diocesan, National, and Worldwide systems for closing down free discussion in the Church? After all, the Synod will have "called for it", won't it?
"Synodality" sounds so democratic, modern, open and free. What's not to like? And this Synod has concluded with the usual flurry of synthetic Bergoglian rhetoric about the Holy Spirit. In such liberated and happy times, don't you need to be paranoid to be suspicious?
Don't you believe it. Bullies are bullies are bullies.