Farewell To Open And Free

blogosphere… and maybe conservative Catholic bloggers, too?

A few bloggers, here and here, lament the fading and withdrawal of Catholic blogging over the past year. Their thoughts, as well as those of their commentariats are more illustrative than illuminating.

The previous papacy was a veritable age of reason and enlightenment:

Benedict stimulated thought, reflection and dialogue, an open and free intellectual environment. There was a solidity and certainty in Benedict’s teaching which made discussion possible and stimulated intellectual honesty, one knew where the Church and the Pope stood.

I think when one knows where the boss stands, it frees people to align with the top (or their perception of it) and yell, scream, call names, and otherwise run roughshod over those on the political outs. The freedom referenced here amounts to little better than ecclesiastical cocktail talk. (How ’bout those six candlesticks?)

Fewer insults: if that’s the result, I think we’re all better off.

I welcomed (Francis’) papacy with mostly open arms.

Funny thing about that saying. A human being has two arms. The choice is pretty stark: you can go halves (one open arm and one closed) or nothing.

If I rarely blog about Francis now, it is because charity forbids it.

Charity to a pope is honored. (Mostly?) But the Catholic blogosphere has been on open season for all non-popes where charity is concerned for many long years. I suspect that takes a toll on the writers, who I think are mostly good people who have been, in the US at any rate, colored by the twin whammies of 9/11 and the cover-up of sex abuse by bishops. And as that last one has unfolded post-Charter, no ideology is safe, especially the conservative/reactionary appointments of the past generation.

As a nation, we’re still figuring out what 9/11 means. I am sure that many conservative Catholics are deeply conflicted about bishops and trying to figure that out too. That’s what they tell me. I’m sure that the administrative misbehavior of bishops in Missouri and Minnesota have given some supporters great cause for concern. The disbelief is remarkable: these good men are victims of smear campaigns, moneygrubbing lawyers, the media, the liberals, the gays, and any number of perceived demons.

My sense is that 2001-2013 was the period of blogging ascendancy. Many Catholic bloggers took great license in attacking people. What was perceived as an “open and free” era was really one of entertainment and self-congratulation. And if people lost jobs, so much the better.

If people have gone off for deeper personal reflection, then perhaps the thinning of the blogosphere is a matter of good riddance, in the sense that some good might come of it.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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