First, for those who have not yet read our Sunday post, St. John Seminary Squeezola, we suggest you make that your first stop today. Boston College has just taken back small rooms (a music room and faculty dining room) they had “graciously” let the seminary use, which means little to BC space-wise and is more about their symbolically flexing their muscles, while the loss of that needed space means a lot to the seminary. Pay special attention to the passionate comments by readers about the future of St. Johns Seminary. Anyone from the archdiocese reading this, we suggest you forward a copy of the post and comments on up to Cardinal O’Malley. We will post more on the seminary situation tomorrow, and are glad to also post any response from the archdiocese here as well if anyone would like to offer one.
For today, we wanted to call your attention to an excellent article by AP religion reporter, Rachel Zoll on the phenomenon of Catholic bloggers. The article prominently features Boston Catholic blogs. It is entitled “Catholic Bloggers Aim To Purge Dissenters” and has been picked up by papers and other media outlets across the country and in Europe (See Washington Post, San Diego Union-Tribune, San Francisco Examiner, UK Guardian) For those at 66 Brooks Drive who still have their heads in the sand about this and are hoping if you keep ignoring us we will just quietly go away, perhaps you might want to come up for air, look around, and realize that you are rapidly becoming the laughing stock of the country and may just want to pay closer attention to the concerns we have been raising. Here is the version posted at CBS News, which we liked for the sub-headline, “Catholic and FedUp.”
Here are a few excerpts:
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.
– 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.”
Among Voris’ many media ventures is the CIA — the Catholic Investigative Agency — a program from RealCatholicTV to “bring to light the dark deeds of evil Catholics-in-name-only, who are hijacking the Church for their own ends, not the ends of Christ.”
In an episode called “Catholic Tea Party,” Voris said: “Catholics need to be aware and studied and knowledgeable enough about the faith to recognize a heretical nun or a traitorous priest or bishop when they see one — not so they can vote them out of office, but so they can pray for them, one, and alert as many other Catholics as possible to their treachery, two.”
The blog “Bryan Hehir Exposed” is aimed at a top adviser to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the Rev. J. Bryan Hehir, who is the former head of national Catholic Charities and a professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. Among the bloggers’ claims is that Hehir is a Marxist sympathizer who undermines Catholic teaching on abortion and marriage.
Hehir, who has advised church leaders for four decades, hasn’t responded to any accusations and neither has O’Malley, a Capuchin Franciscan friar known for his humility. However, O’Malley said in April on his own blog that Hehir “inspires us with his compassion, vision and fidelity to the work of the Church.” In August, O’Malley blocked access from archdiocesan headquarters to one of the critical blogs, the anonymously penned Boston Catholic Insider.
“The lack of civility is very disturbing,” said Terrence C. Donilon, the archdiocesan spokesman.
Catholic officials are struggling to come to terms with the bloggers and have organized several recent media conferences on the topic, the latest at the Vatican this month. The U.S. bishops’ conference issued social media guidelines in July calling for Christian charity online.
Still, no one expects the Catholic blogosphere to change tone anytime soon. Many of the conservatives most active online had spent years raising the alarm about dissent on their own in their local dioceses without much effect. Now, they feel they are finally being heard online.
Voris said. “I think enough Catholics are saying, ‘That’s it. I’ve had it.’”
Terry, is the deceit and corruption at 66 Brooks Drive not “very disturbing”? We are hearing from more and more donors that they find it “disturbing” how their money is being squandered, including $300K+ salaries for some people who never earned those amounts in comparable private sector jobs. We are hearing from pastors who find it “disturbing” that their parishes are being taxed by the archdiocese at 18% of their donations to pay for six-figure salaries in Braintree while 1/3 of parishes are in the red. Is the $5M+ in donor funds spent on Lawson financial and accounting software when it was a mismatch for our needs not “very disturbing”? Is it not “disturbing” that sham searches block good people from being considered for open positions? How about the conflicts of interest—are they not ‘disturbing”? Is knowingly deceiving lay people, priests and pastors, church employees, donors, and even members of key advisory committees like the Archdiocesan Presbyteral Council and Pastoral Council not “very disturbing”? Is the leadership vacuum at 66 Brooks Drive that threatens the ability of the Church to continue doing her good works not “disturbing”?
To Cardinal O’Malley, Vicar General Fr. Erikson, Chancellor Jim McDonough, Fr. Bryan Hehir, and Terry Donilon, we do not speak for other bloggers, but in case it was unclear up to now, allow this blog to clarify ourselves. With all due respect, it is your actions or lack of actions and unresponsiveness to long-standing concerns by faithful Catholics that have led to the sort of criticism by the local Catholic blogs that Mr. Donilon apparently now finds “very disturbing.”
Let’s make a deal. You publicly, or at least internally acknowledge the problems we have highlighted on the blog and clean up your acts. Stop justifying the current situation by saying that you offered to meet with us and we declined, and instead implement a credible whistleblower policy that gives all people who care about the Church a way to alert an independent ethics team to problems and ensures a process for addressing the problems while protecting the person who complains from retaliation. Operate with integrity like the Catholic Church should operate. Pastors and laity, we invite you to contact Cardinal O’Malley and urge him to get rid of the corruption, deceit, and cronyism–along with cabinet secretaries and/or advisors who have brought that into the standard operating procedures of this archdiocese. In exchange, we will work on using more civil language. Better still, we might even eventually go away completely. A blog like this one would not be considered necessary in the Archdiocese of Denver, which is under the leadership of Cardinal Sean’s classmate and fellow Capuchin Archbishop Chaput. We hope some day we will be unnecessary in Boston as well, but that seems a long ways off based on how 66 Brooks Drive is operating today.
In the meantime, sorry guys, we are here to stay along with the thousands of readers who are all saying, “That’s it. I’ve had enough.”