Patrick Archbold is co-founder of Creative Minority Report, a Catholic website that puts a refreshing spin on the intersection of religion, culture, and politics. When not writing, Patrick is director of information technology at a large international logistics company in New York.
There are so many people whose behavior need to be called out for their open defiance of Catholic teaching. Pro-abortion Catholics, pro gay-marriage politicians, and the like are just a few that come to mind.
So the Archbishop of Westminster has delivered a homily decrying people he sees as profoundly un-Catholic and he uses the Pope to single these bad Catholics out.
To Archbishop Vincent Nichols, these people are the very people that are destroying unity in the Church. The Archbishop finds these people so repulsive that "they should have no place in the Church."
Wow. Those are some pretty strong words especially from an Archbishop. What group transgressed to such a degree to merit such unprecedented Episcopal ire?
Yes, of all the people that are destroying the Church from within and from without, Archbishop Nichols has singled out gossipy bloggers as having "no place in the Church."
The Church must be a community rooted in the love of the Lord.
Pope Francis understands this in practical terms. He has already identified two kinds of behaviour that destroy love in the Church. They are complaining and gossiping. He is a practical man. He knows that we live in a society in which complaining and gossip is a standard fare. They sell newspapers and attract us to blogs because we love hear complaints and to read gossip.
But Pope Francis is clear: they should have no place in the Church.
He reminded us that the disciples, on the road to Emmaus were sad and complaining. He added: 'and the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves. They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.' Complaining and griping about others, about things in one's own life, is harmful, he said 'because it dashes hope. Don't get into this game of a life of complaints.' Then, in another memorable phrase, he added that some ‘stew their lives in the juice of their own complaining.'
So if you are Catholic, have a blog, and sometimes complain you do not belong in the Church.
Of course, gossip is wrong, whether you have a blog or not and I am sure that some people use their blogs in un-Christian ways. But in a world that despises the Church and a world in which the majority of professed Catholics live in private and public denial of Church teaching, why would an Archbishop of such stature single out bloggers for this episcopal putdown?
Archbishop, with all due respect, Catholic bloggers by and large are just Catholics trying to live our faith in the world. We are out there trying to spread the faith and support our brethren and Church through the best means of communication available as we are called to do as Christians.
We love the Church and yes we sometimes complain. Sometimes those complaints might be uninformed, inappropriate, and unfair. But guess what, they, we are people. But other times, those complaints are necessary to the health of the Church. Perhaps if blogs existed in the 70s, 80s, and 90s the despicable behavior of the few might have been outed much more quickly and countless lives and souls spared horror. Perhaps if blogs existed then, Bishops would not have been tempted to be so inward looking and would have done the right thing earlier. Maybe, we may never know. But sometimes complaints are a good thing. Perhaps it would be better to listen to the voices of the faithful, even when they are complaining, rather than issuing broad and unfair condemnations.
I will leave it to you to decide, far be it from me to complain.