The AP’s Rachel Zoll has discovered something that may not be news to some of us in the blogosphere:
Pressure is on to change the Roman Catholic Church in America, but it’s not coming from the usual liberal suspects. A new breed of theological conservatives has taken to blogs and YouTube to say the church isn’t Catholic enough.
Enraged by dissent that they believe has gone unchecked for decades, and unafraid to say so in the starkest language, these activists are naming names and unsettling the church.
-In the Archdiocese of Boston, parishioners are dissecting the work of a top adviser to the cardinal for any hint of Marxist influence.
-Bloggers are combing through campaign finance records to expose staff of Catholic agencies who donate to politicians who support abortion rights.
-RealCatholicTV.com, working from studios in suburban Detroit, is hunting for “traitorous” nuns, priests or bishops throughout the American church.
“We’re no more engaged in a witch hunt than a doctor excising a cancer is engaged in a witch hunt,” said Michael Voris of RealCatholicTV.com and St. Michael’s Media. “We’re just shining a spotlight on people who are Catholics who do not live the faith.”
John Allen, Vatican analyst for the National Catholic Reporter, has dubbed this trend “Taliban Catholicism.” But he says it’s not a strictly conservative phenomenon – liberals can fit the mindset, too, Allen says. Some left-leaning Catholics are outraged by any exercise of church authority.
Yet on the Internet and in the church, conservatives are having the bigger impact.
Check out some examples at the link.
Meantime, Fr. Jim Martin is (understandably) unimpressed:
This is a disastrous trend for the Catholic church, for several reasons.
First of all, too many of these inquisitorial bloggers attack anonymously, which makes it next to impossible to hold them to any real accountability. Likewise, many commenters on such blogs also hide their real identities when carrying out their own attacks, which also get linked to and repeated by other bloggers. This seems utterly craven and completely cowardly: If you are so sure of your fidelity to the Catholic church, so sure of the veracity of your opinions, and so sure of your mission, why are you hiding behind a pseudonym? Those who are attacked by those bearing fake names have real names, real reputations and real jobs at stake.
Second, many these attack-bloggers betray little theological knowledge. It is one thing to be informed by a theological scholar with years of relevant experience working at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, for example, that your article or book or lecture is not in keeping with the tenets of faith. Or to have your work critiqued by someone who has carefully considered your arguments, and after weighing what you say regarding the tradition, responds in charity. It is quite another to be attacked with snide comments by someone barely out of college who spends his days cherry-picking quotes and thumbing through the Catechism in an endless game of gotcha.
Third, the focus of their blogs is almost risibly narrow. Here are the sole topics of interest, in the order in which they cause foaming at the mouth (or on the keyboard): homosexuality, abortion, wormen’s ordination, birth control, liturgical abuses and church authority. Is this the sum total of what makes us Catholic?