Top 10 Ways to Improve Cardinal Sean’s Blog

This week, we will hit our 6-month anniversary blog post.  Before we get to that milestone, in response to reader complaints and frustration with the content of Cardinal Sean’s Blog, today we weigh in with some thoughts on his latest post and his blog in general.

We respect the significant commitment the Cardinal has made to his blog as a means of communicating, and he obviously has been at it a bit longer than us.  Still, we have learned a few things over 90+ posts and felt he and the people who support him with writing, editing, and technically implementing the blog content might benefit by some feedback.

In the Cardinal’s most recent post it took digging through 53 pictures and photographs and 35 page-downs to learn what Cardinal Sean did in Paraguay: he stopped in Buenos Aires en route, celebrated a number of Masses, visited the nuncio and his menagerie of animals, received an honorary doctorate degree and medallion, gave a talk on Catholic education, met with some Paraguay bishops, had a service at a Capuchin church, flew on a small prop jet to the City of San Pedro, received a key to the city from the mayor (in appreciation for benefactors in Boston who supported initiatives to feed local-area poor families and children), and met with the U.S. ambassador to Paraguay and President of Paraguay. 

A lot of activity and photos in one trip, but one might ask, how did any of this help the Archdiocese of Boston, or even Paraguay for that matter?  We cannot tell from the post. 

We realize there are certain things one has to do as Cardinal.  But the question we keep asking ourselves every time we read his blog is whether Cardinal Sean’s blog reflects what he is actually spending most of his time doing, or does it just reflect the parts of his weekly schedule that he and his advisors feel are of interest to Boston Catholics?  Either of two situations must be going on:

Situation I
The blog does accurately reflect what the Cardinal spends most of his time doing—traveling outside of Boston, attending fund-raisers, performing ceremonial functions, and celebrating Masses in different locations.  If so, then what should the priests and laity of the archdiocese do to encourage the Cardinal to limit his travel and whatever even small amount of time is spent blogging, and instead spend more time on the responsibilities of the ordinary to teach, sanctify, and govern in Boston?

OR

Situation II
The blog and other public communications do not accurately reflect what the Cardinal is doing to teach, sanctify and govern in Boston. If so, perhaps if the Cardinal and his team get some feedback that people want to see his teaching, sanctifying, and governing more strongly demonstrated publicly, then he might change the content of his blog, his public schedule and other public communications to address this need—all for the greater good of the archdiocese.

We do not have direct access to the daily schedule for the Cardinal so cannot tell you definitively how many days per month he spends in Boston vs elsewhere and whether we are dealing with Situation I or Situation II.  We will simply share thoughts on the blog in general that would apply in either case.

Why People Want to See More About Teaching, Sanctifying, and Governing

In Pope John Paul II’s general audience of October 28, 1992, he said the following:

As successors of the apostles, bishops are called to share in the mission which Jesus Christ himself entrusted to the Twelve and the Church. ..The mission of individual bishops is fulfilled within a strictly defined sphere…The individual bishops…exercise their pastoral government over the portion of the People of God committed to their care, and not over other churches nor over the universal Church” (LG 23).

The majority of bishops exercise their pastoral mission in dioceses…We read again in the [Second Vatican] Council: “Individual bishops who have been entrusted with the care of a particular church–under the authority of the Supreme Pontiff–feed their sheep in the name of the Lord as their own ordinary and immediate pastors, performing for them the office of teaching, sanctifying and governing” (CD 11)

Are we in Boston entitled to want to see these sorts of activities more visibly demonstrated and communicated by our bishop through venues that might include his blog?  Does Cardinal Sean’s blog reflect this exercising of his office?  We wish it did, but just do not see it in the blog. 

What Could Be Improved with Cardinal Sean’s Blog

The most typical complaints we hear about what is posted to his blog are the following: too many pictures, too many functions that seem to have nothing to do with Boston, too many parties and photo-opps with big-money donors and wealthy advisors, too much travel outside of Boston, too little use of the blog for teaching, and too little about governing in Boston. 

We also hear complaints about how the Cardinal (or his writer, Pilot editor Antonio Enrique) expresses his experiences amongst the rich and famous.  Here are a few examples:

  • Last September, in communicating his presence at the funeral of Sen. Ted Kennedy,  Cardinal Sean wrote:

 “the music was outstanding with the Tanglewood Festival Chorus enriching the liturgy along with mezzo-soprano Susan Graham who later sang an absolutely striking rendition of Schubert’s “Ave Maria.”  Cellist Yo-Yo Ma graced us with his beautiful solo performance of Bach and later joined Placido Domingo, who sang the “Panis Angelicus.”  Placido has a superb voice.  I told him how much I like the Zarzuela, the Spanish classical musical theater productions.  His family had a troupe that presented Zarzuelas in Mexico and he promised to arrange a performance.”

On July 23  of this year, the Cardinal wrote about presiding over the wedding of billioniare philanthropist Peter Lynch’s daughter, Elizabeth, to a French count.

Peter Lynch’s daughter Elizabeth married a French count, Gonzague de Montrichard, a very fine Catholic gentleman. Peter Lynch, a Fidelity executive, has been involved in the Catholic Schools Foundation and is a promoter of Catholic philanthropy.

The wedding was very beautifully executed. The boys from our choir school at St. Paul’s in Cambridge sang. The reception was at the Lynch’s home. The dinner was preceded by spectacular fireworks — they could have been in Washington, D.C. at the mall for the Fourth of July! There was 40 minutes of music in the background, and the fireworks show was over the water. It was quite amazing.”

We recognize we are not exactly Shakespeare ourselves so are not exactly in a position to criticize the writing style of others. Still, in the wording of these posts and in others as well, it is no doubt unintentional on the part of the Cardinal or his writer, but the wording causes the Cardinal to come across sounding somewhat awestruck by the trappings of wealth and fame he is exposed to. That is not a personal attack—it is just the objective reality of the blog topics chosen and the wording in the posts.

Let us for purposes of this post give the benefit of the doubt that maybe the Cardinal or the people who photograph his every move and/or help him write the blog just do not realize how the blog is making him appear: increasingly detached from the day-to-day needs and governance of the Boston archdiocese and increasingly associated with the rich and famous. 

That being said, we offer what hopefully will be seen as helpful suggestions for consideration to help address the issues we have described in this post: #1-5 of our Top 10 Ways to Improve Cardinal Sean’s Blog

  1. Put an editorial calendar of topics in place and use that to drive content.  (We shared a list of topics on Nov. 8, and you will see we have slowly been picking through them).  Instead of just having the blog chronicle the Cardinal’s comings and goings somewhat randomly like a travel diary, create a list of important topics that help advance the mission of the Catholic Church in Boston (ie. prayer, the sacraments, evangelization, marriage and family, bringing God into every moment of your day, etc.), and follow it weekly.
  2. Filter out content not likely to be interest to the average Catholic in the pews or priests & religious. Limit photographs to no more than 5-7 per post, and cut out most of the details of the Cardinal’s travel and social schedule—especially when it involves the rich and famous–so the blog can instead focus on the important topics of #1.  The rest of our items #3-10 are related to topics we think people want to hear about.
  3. Cover some teaching from the lectionary’s scriptural readings of the Sunday Mass.  Maybe it is a written excerpt from the Cardinal’s homiletic preaching on the Sunday Mass readings.  He used to do this, but it seems to have been absent for at least the last 6 months. When there is occasionally a homily, it is via video, not text, so many people skip it. Better to write out the key points so people can read them and/or share them, even if a video accompanies it.
  4. Cover how the Cardinal is (hopefully) meeting with pastors of the 40% of parishes in the red to brainstorm, apply the best minds and resources from the Pastoral Center, cut archdiocesan fees, share best practices from other parishes, and figure out how to help as many as possible become financially solvent ASAP.
  5. Cover how the Cardinal is (hopefully) diving into the issue of the six-figure salaries of his top 10-15 lieutenants, and directing his team and the Finance Council to cut $1 million in unnecessary expense from those salaries, so those funds can be freed for ministries and advancing the main mission of the Church in Boston. Share the committed timeframe for implementing those cuts.

Seems to us, coincidentally, that the visibility of Cardinal Sean’s teaching, sanctifying and governing was much greater in his first few years in Boston–before his getting elevated to Cardinal, before his blog, and before the arrival of Jim McDonough, Jack Connors and some of the other senior leaders at 66 Brooks Drive we have been writing about on the blog. We just share that as an interesting coincidence.

We have more than 5 additional topics to suggest tomorrow and are still narrowing down the list, but if you would like to submit your suggestions, feel free to do so via comments.

Please, no personal attacks in the comments (and no comments about whether the Cardinal should or should not have presided over the Kennedy funeral). This post is about what people want to see and/or not see covered on the Cardinal’s blog.

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28 Responses to Top 10 Ways to Improve Cardinal Sean’s Blog

  1. TheLastCatholicinBoston says:

    My mouth is full of blood from biting my tongue.
    I think the Blog as it stands is a very accurate record of the state of the diocese. I would change absolutely nothing and make sure that Cardinal Burke sees the daily posting…for inspiration of course.

    • Objective Observer says:

      When Kevin Shea first proposed the blog, there were two main goals: Get out the Good News about RCAB, and help illustrate a personal side to Cardinal O’Malley — a way to endear him to individual Catholics in Boston who would likely never meet him. And those first few months did just that. The consistory coverage was beautiful. Many events at the Cathedral and parishes were illustrated. And then it became a travelogue — like something on WGBH.

      Cardinals have multiple job descriptions. Some run dicasteries in Rome so their work as cardinal is their work, period. Many are ordinaries in their dioceses around the world, but work as well on sitting committees of their episcopal conferences, and on councils in Rome. So they have to use their time very well, and they have to juggle their essential travel with local governance. Keeping in mind that his first duty is to his flock and especially to his clergy, he must wear both hats, the local and the Roman, with great care. His personal life has to be sequestered to a handful of days per year.

      Or he can allow himself to abdicate his responsibilities in one venue while he focuses almost exclusively on the other, and makes plenty of time for his personal interests like reading and surfing the web, as well as travel to visit family and friends.

      Just something to think about.

  2. Vesna says:

    This topic sooo needed to be raised. I agree with your suggestions and would add that the gatekeepers of the blog should allow negative comments. Very, very seldom does anything critical get posted. That may be because serious Catholics stopped reading the blog long ago, knowing it was just a recap of the Cardinal’s trips and an overabundance of photos of him. It’s a shame that what could be a way for him to really speak to important issues is just fluff.

  3. Lapsed and Loving It says:

    He needs all these officers in place to watch the store while he’s away. Don’t you see it?

  4. Angry Parish Council Member says:

    It’s OK if he needs all the officers there to watch the store while he’s away–let’s just pay them less!

    Here’s my suggestion. Back in the late ’90s up to around 2002, there used to be a big archdiocesan pastoral council convocation at the World Trade Center where all members of parish councils came together. In the last one I remember in 2002, they had regional listening sessions as breakouts where people gave feedback they wanted Cardinal Law to hear. They’ve stopped the big convocation, but maybe they could run 5 regional ‘Town Hall’ meetings in different regions of the Archdiocese with the Cardinal presenting his priorities for the diocese and people getting to ask him questions and hear his responses. Then he’d blog the most frequently heard comments and his responses and follow-up. Just like they are promoting “Catholics Come Home” to bring fallen-away Catholics back to the church, they could call this “Cardinal Come Home” since it would be bringing the Cardinal back in contact with his diocese.

    I’m totally serious.

  5. Francois says:

    Of all the things needing the attention of BostonCatholicInsider I think the Cardinal’s blog is at the bottom of the list. Sorry, but with all the issues we should be dealing with here, this one seemed a bit petty.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      Francois,
      You mustn’t have been following BCI and there documenting the problems in the Boston Archdiocese, or maybe you haven’t read the Cardinal’s blog. If you weren’t aware, more than a few people are noticing that our archbishop is abdicating his leadership of the Archdicese. What he blogs about is yet another visible manifestation of that, so I think BCI’s post about the Cardinal’s blog was good.

  6. Anna Lynskey says:

    Francois, I thing most of us would disagree. In the absence of teaching, sanctifying and governing, the photographs that reflect what the Cardinal is doing with his time and the suggestions herein is critical to fixing what is broken.

  7. michael says:

    Here is a suggestion… the Cardinal should make a “Next Steps” section of his blog so we can all keep track of where we have come from and where we are headed …

    For example it would go something like this …

    Step 1. Get distracted with the clergy abuse scandal,
    Step 2. Cave in on same-sex “marriage,” surrendering marriage to the other side
    Step 3. Distribute lots of cash to weaselly money grubbing tort lawyers,
    Step 4. Surrender Catholic Charities adoptions to the other side,
    Step 5. Distribute more money to lawyers (whose main interest is in how many hours they have billed the Archdiocese),
    Step 6. Surrender Catholic Hospitals to the other side,
    Step 7. Hire really expensive help (Dr. Mary Grassa O’Neill and others),
    Step 8. Surrender Catholic Schools to the other side,
    Step 9. Promote amnesty for illegals,
    Step 10. Surrender the rest of our religious freedoms that courageous men and women have died protecting
    Step 11. Go to Dublin
    Step 12. Hand over lots of cash to weaselly money grubbing Irish lawyers.

    What are the next steps? Cardinal Sean’s blog is the perfect way to find out where we will be in five – ten years. He could lay out the next steps so we don’t get any more surprises.

  8. Jack O'Malley says:

    I think the best way to improve Cardinal O’Malley’s blog would be to stop censoring comments. If Soviet-style propaganda is the ultimate raison d’être for the blog, then obviously no suggestions will be acted upon and the blog and the archdiocese will go the way of the Soviet system.

    [comment edited by BCI]

    BTW, Michael, an excellent summary of the very depressing history of the cardinal’s reign here. Perhaps the frequent travel will prepare him for a curial sinecure where lack of assertiveness is accounted a virtue..

    • Boston Catholic Insider says:

      Jack,
      We edited your comment due to the personal attack. The best way to avoid personal attacks is to direct criticism at actions and behaviors objectively observed, rather than labeling a person as being a _____.

  9. Disappointed Reader says:

    I had grown to admire BCI for so much of its investigative work and what I thought was a mature and objective analysis of several of the issues that need to be addressed in the local Church, especially at the Pastoral Center.

    But this post strikes me as sophomoric.

    It’s totally fair game, I think, to question how Cardinal O’Malley is spending his time and whether his practical priorities are allowing enough time for him to solve local problems. But the supposed means to do this — making suggestions about what he should do with his blog — is a little ridiculous. It’s his blog, one that pretty patently seems to be an attempt to make a somewhat direct and personal connection with those who read it (as I do). It seems to be a response to what the Cardinal might say if someone asked him, “What have you been doing the last week?” I actually think it’s pretty interesting to see the vitality of the Church in Paraguay. Where else are you going to see that?

    Does anyone think that blog would be improved if, instead of mentioning the parishes where he’s celebrated Masses, religious communities he’s visited, guests he’s received, etc., he said, “On Monday, I got up early and prayed my breviary, made a holy hour and celebrated Mass. I then drove to the pastoral center where I began the day with a long emergency meeting with lawyers about problem X, then I spent an hour and a half dealing with correspondence, then I prayed mid-morning prayer, then I had an appointment with a priest in to see me about his alcohol problem, then I had a hearty salad for lunch, then I received and made several phone calls within and outside the Archdiocese, then I visited a person undergoing surgery at the hospital, went to two wakes, read for 25 minutes from my Kindle, prayed Vespers, met with some senior staff members about another problem in the Archdiocese, began working on my Christmas homily, made a holy hour and prayed compline, made and took some phone calls from priests and bishops in different time zones, examined my conscience, brushed my teeth, put on my pajamas and went to bed?”

    I think it would be nice, too, to have more of his written homilies and speeches in the blog, but its’ pretty clear that it’s an exception when his homilies are typed out. Normally, he just has a hand-written outline on legal paper. I’d much rather have the video than nothing. I’d like to add that his homilies are always spiritually nutritious and show that he spends an awful lot more time on them than most priests and most bishops do. We should be grateful that we have a bishop who prioritizes his preaching and celebrating the sacraments with God’s people more than his duties as an administrator. There are faithful in several dioceses who barely see their bishops and who, when they do, are left totally uninspired by vapid homilies that make them question whether their spiritual leaders have much of an interior life. We don’t have that problem here. We have a world class preacher, someone who was long sought out as a retreat preacher in earlier days when he had more time, and we should be grateful for that. Would we rather have businessmen-bishops or those who are genuinely trying to be disciples and apostles first?

    Let’s just admit that Cardinal O’Malley is not a good administrator — and at 66 he’s probably not going to become one either — but would we really want in Boston someone like various other recent cardinals and bishops (out of charity I won’t name them) who were truly fine administrators but who hardly inspired others to embrace the Gospel and who behaved more like savvy executives than ambassadors of Christ. Let’s not be blind to Cardinal O’Malley’s real charisms by focusing exclusively on his administrative weaknesses.

    None of this is to deny that there are some administrative problems on Cardinal O’Malley’s watch, which BCI has amply documented. But l’d urge BCI keep the focus on those problems. The blog is clearly not a problem.

    A last point. For those who share and seek to live the Catholic faith in the Archdiocese of Boston, Cardinal O’Malley is more than the president of a Corporation Sole, but a successor of the apostles called to be a spiritual father. Every father has his strengths and weaknesses. It’s simply not worthy of a good son or daughter, when pointing out those weaknesses, to do so in a similar tone with which we’d criticize, for example, a president or governor with whose policies we disagree. The caustic tone with which some Catholics criticize Cardinal O’Malley is unworthy of a Catholic son or daughter.

    • Boston Catholic Insider says:

      Disappointed reader,

      Thanks for your comments. We appreciate the positive feedback on what you have liked about the blog and regret if this post disappointed you. You have made some valid points that time does not permit us to address fully right now.

      Our post reflected two things:
      –a genuine concern of many, including BCI, that we may be dealing with the situation of Cardinal O’Malley spending most of his time traveling outside of Boston, attending fund-raisers, performing ceremonial functions, visiting family and friends, and celebrating Masses in different places while neglecting governance (which is not just business administration, but a lot more).
      –the objective reality that the Cardinal’s blog seems to be turning a lot of people off (perhaps not you, but a lot of our readers) and has become a travel diary, casting a portrait of him that makes him appear detached from Boston and beholden to the rich and famous.

      Are we dealing with perceptions, or are the perceptions reality? We tried to cover both by discussing what we and others could objectively observe from Cardinal Sean’s blog.

      Our hope would be that the Cardinal and his staff look at his blog, look at the perceptions, look at our suggestions, and then determine what they want to do about that for the greater good of the archdiocese. We will try to make this clearer in our part 2 post.

      Thanks again for your insightful comments.

    • Carolyn says:

      Dear DR,

      Respect for the ordinary requires the tone of all comments to defer to his office and show due respect, I agree. But if we have learned anything in this archdiocese, it’s that the ordinary, no matter how good a person or how holy a person, can, like all of us, use some fraternal correction. In the case of this ordinary, the record shows that an area where this is true is the abdication of his role both as pastor and as executive.

      He avoids being present in his office, and he avoids contact with the priests and with the faithful unless the venues are large or carefully orchestrated. He can speak to a church packed with 1,000 people at a parish anniversary and seem very in touch, but he will sit in a meeting with ten people discussing a critical need in his diocese and stare blankly at his notebook without giving any spoken or personal follow through to indicate that he has understood the gravity of the situation. This is not OK.

      He does not delegate, he abdicates. There is a serious and deeply troubling difference.

      The blog is a squandered opportunity. It can certainly play a large PR role, but it should also be a platform for the formation of the people of God. It can be a public record of his photo ops, but it should also contain unequivocal statements of support for the teachings of the Church.

      If you are a Catholic living in the Archdiocese of Boston, and you know where the Church’s primary strengths and weaknesses lie, you are hungry to know that the ordinary knows — and is acting to build up the Church. Compare the public statements of Bishop Olmsted in Arizona, Bishop Neinstadt in Minnesota, Archbishop Dolan in New York, and so on, to the Boston Archbishop’s public statements. Compare the public record on finances and other serious matters, to the discharge of his pastoral and executive responsibility with the reality on the ground in the RCAB.

      Knowing these things and reading the blog would leave one believing that the central administration of the Archdiocese of Boston is in disarray, and its ordinary is not personally attentive to (or even completely aware of?) the crises of the local church.

      The blog is a squandered opportunity, and a somewhat frightening illustration of what people believe constitutes the governance of the Archdiocese of Boston because it is the only forum in which the ordinary communicates with his people on a regular basis. BCI not only does not disappoint by spending a couple of entries on the cardinal’s blog, it does a service to point to such a public example of the disconnect between what is required of the ordinary, as opposed to what the public record indicates he actually accomplishes.

      Scrutiny of shortcomings is uncomfortable. To fail to scrutinize them and to fail in the exhortation to change them is inexcusable.

      Read Ignatius (Exercises, 19th annotation) on the proper way to seek fraternal correction of a cleric. Then reread BCI. There is no room for shrill diatribes or spleen venting in the conversation. But the conversation is essential and must take place.

  10. Jack O'Malley says:

    BCI,

    You are within your rights to edit comments. But in doing so to a comment which contained no slander or offensive language or personal calumny and which recalled a piece of documented history in this archdiocese, you have yourselves fallen into the same mindset that governs the comment policy at O’Malley’s blog. Perhaps Antonio Enrique is beyond criticism here?

    I would ask you to restore my comment as I wrote it. If you prefer not to, I will refrain from causing you the trouble of any more editing.

    • Credo says:

      What Cardinal-Archbishop in the entire world would allow negative comments of himself and personal attacks on his own blog? Give me a break, there is nothing wrong with Cardinal Sean’s blog removing negative comments, regardless of the validity of the comments. No archbishop is going engage in any discussion with their flock over a blog!

      • Jack O'Malley says:

        Credo (in quem deum?),

        I’m not sure whether you intended to respond to my rebuke of BCI for the suppression of my comment or in general, but my original post dealt not with O’Malley but with Enrique, the purported scribe who authors and publishes the blog.

        I called into question his journalistic bona fides based upon an egregious incident regarding Antonin Scalia and the firing of Peter Smith; I specifically gave Enrique the benefit of the doubt in his personal sanctity. BCI was unable to appreciate that discrimen and thus fell into the canard of a “personal attack” on my part. There is a crucial distinction between ad hominem and ad peritum. I will elaborate if the bloggers and commentators wish to learn the difference.

        This is BCI’s blog. Who they are is unknown. But the good name of Antonio Enrique is apparently sacrosanct, while the legion “personal attacks” on O’Malley are fair game. I am clearly not a booster of Patrick O’Malley, but the circled wagons around Enrique leave room for suspicion. The credibility of this blog is at stake. I appreciate their research and will continue to read them, but I will not be censored capriciously.

        As an aside, negative comments, i.e. those expressing disagreement with archdiocesan policies and procedures, ought to be allowed on O’Malley’s blog. Insults are clearly beyond the beyonds. That was not the subject of my previous comment however.

  11. Lois Wrightson says:

    Cardinal Sean might look into a religion education program that is being used by Our Lady of Victory in Centerville called the Gift Program. It has proven to be very effective for the families at this parish. Everyone participates, it has been well received.

  12. A. J. Constantino says:

    DisappointedReader:

    One of the most BRILLIANT posts!

    to quote FOX News “fair and balanced”!

  13. Michael says:

    This excerpt from Pope Benedict’s recent book, speaks eloquently to what I see as the main problem with the Cardinal’s blog-it is almost entirely a public relations vehicle.

    “Interviewer: A “culture of doubt” is very much in these days, and it has found a comfortable nest even in media outlets associated with the Church. In many cases, editors simply take over uncritically the slogans circulating among the usual critics of the Church. Bishops follow the lead of their media consultants, who recommend a soft line in order to avoid any damage to the bishops’ liberal image. And when, on top of that, huge media concerns belonging to the Church remove religious books from their main sales lists – doesn’t this raise doubts as to whether we can still speak credibly about new evangelization?

    Pope Benedict: These are all phenomena that one can only observe with sadness. It is sad that there are what you might call professional Catholics who make a living on their Catholicism, but in whom the spring of faith flows only faintly, in a few scattered drops. We must really make an effort to change this. In Italy – where there are far fewer enterprises run by the Church as an institution – I observe the initiatives arise, not because they are set up by the Church as institution, but because the people themselves believe. Spontaneous new beginnings arise, not from institutions, but out of an authentic faith.”

  14. Jerry O'Sullivan says:

    The Cardinal’s life-style should be in question. Thousands of dollars have been invested in the Cathedral Rectory. His Rector Msgr. O’Leary has created a hen house for a small coterie of characters who have the cardinal’s ear. The Franciscan Archbishop is living like a Prince of the Church! Tet no one hears aboiut this

  15. To Jack and all readers on the topic of “personal attacks”,

    Of all of the complaints we get about the blog, the most frequent are ones like these:

    http://bostoncatholicinsider.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/comments-clarifications-and-corrections/

    “Your blog does a great service for the Church, calling it to accountability, but as owner of the blog you are accountable for holding your commenters to a respectable standard.”

    “Your commenters often lack charity, and make ad hominem attacks on people – things that start with ‘I’ve heard …’ and go on to say something really nasty about some person at RCAB that often times is a good person, works hard, and does quality work.”

    “I know of many people within and outside the RCAB who agree with your positions, but have given up reading, purely because you allow commenters to say most anything, even if it is an uncharitable opinion.

    Here is the tone we asked people to avoid:

    please don’t say “John Smith, who works for the archdiocese as ___, is a liar and is incompetent.”

    We see that is a personal attack. If you feel that way and want to express it in a comment, better to remove the attack and blanket judgment call and instead say, “In my personal experience interacting with John Smith, he deceived me by saying___ when the reality was ___. He did not do A, B, and C as part of his job responsibilities, which caused me to question whether he was competent in his job.

    Here is another example of a personal attack:

    “these people are spineless, overpaid, paper pushers”…

    So is: “I personally believe that ___is the most morally and ethically corrupt ____in the _____.”

    So is: “____ is a liar, surrounded by liars.”

    Jack, no one is protected or sacrosanct. We will say that ___ deceived us with their comments or actions, but we do not call the person a liar. We might say ___ has apparently shirked their responsibility, but we do not call the person “incompetent” or “irresponsible.” We just ask that readers use language that focuses on the action or behavior observed. Those actions or behaviors observed might cause you personally to make a judgment call that they are a ___, but ask you to not publicly brand them as such just because you may judge them that way.

    We do not have the time throughout the day or evening to actively moderate comments, so if you all abide by these guidelines, it will make life a lot easier for the bloggers.

  16. Jack O'Malley says:

    BCI,

    I will reiterate my request to restore my comment. It does not fall within the margins of “personal attack”. It is rather a questioning of Enrique’s professional journalistic bona fides.

    I did not question his “life-style” nor that of Cardinal O’Malley. Why that commenter’s remark should stand and my justified misgivings about Enrique’s impartiality or trustworthiness be bowdlerized, I cannot fathom.

    In point of fact, you might simply disclaim responsibility for any commenter’s opinions. There are many blogs which do this and exempt themselves from the need to play the schoolmarm in the comboxes.

    I think this is a valuable blog which has brought to light much malfeasance in the chancery. But you do yourselves a disservice by adopting a hypercensorious posture in regards to your interlocutors. Tant pis.

    • Angry Parish Council Member says:

      Jack,
      I think you need to cut BCI some slack and let them run the blog the way they want or need to run it. I got an email notification yesterday with your follow-up comment–it was a personal attack, exactly like those BCI has asked us many times already to avoid, and I cringed when I read it so I’m glad BCI moderated it. Neither the Globe nor the Herald publish every letter to the editor, and many blogs don’t allow comments or they’re individually moderated before getting published publicly. I don’t know often BCI moderates comments here and think BCI does an admirable job of researching, writing and keeping the blog open to comments but relatively free from personal attacks.

      Jack, if you want a blog to exactly conform to your own world-view, there’s one and only one way you can get that. Let me know the URL when you’ve created it and I’ll be glad to post comments there.

  17. Anonymous says:

    We should get Mister Bernie Swain to come in to moderate the comments!

  18. [...] night, we have sparked quite a flurry of comments in the last 24 hours with our Monday post about Cardinal Sean’s Blog.  If our posts might be classified as either primarily “News” or primarily [...]

  19. [...] night, we have sparked quite a flurry of comments in the last 24 hours with our Monday post about Cardinal Sean’s Blog.  If our posts might be classified as either primarily “News” or primarily “Opinion,” [...]

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