'According to John Smeaton of the lobby SPUC, Catholic Voices seeks "to redefine the common perception of what constitutes mainstream Catholicism in England" (This criticism, he actually levelled at Dr Ivereigh himself). Behind this conspiracy, he asserts, lies The Tablet. And his reason for believing that CV coordinators Ivereigh and Valero share this aim? Why, "Dr Ivereigh's loyalty to The Tablet" -- on the basis that he refused to accept a blogger's invitation to describe the weekly as a "vehicle for dissent".
Indeed, Smeaton's attempt at an auto-da-fe on this question (Isn't that the phrase Austen used repetitively on my blog's comments box?) -- because Ivereigh reads The Tablet (as he does other Catholic papers), "he should not be appointed to any representative position in any official or unofficial Catholic or pro-life/pro-family organisation" -- is typical of the mentality of many in the blogosphere who call for the banning of people they regard as "heretical", even when there has been no such call or declaration by those whom the Church's own law entrusts with the authority to do so (Yes. If only the Bishops would act upon the advice of Pope Benedict XVI and 'recognise dissent for what it is'). Catholic Voices considers this attitude unacceptable in a Catholic organisation, which is why it excluded those who shared it from being part of the project.
Last June the bishop who chairs the US bishops' conference's communications committee gave a talk on what it means to be a faithful Catholic media organisation. During his talk Bishop Gabino Zavala noted:
As I talked with brother bishops in preparation for this presentation, there was consistent agreement that one aspect that is most alarming to us about media is when it becomes unchristian and hurtful to individuals. For example, we are particularly concerned about blogs that engage in attacks and hurtful, judgmental language. We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church. Such actions shatter the communion of the Church that we hold so precious.
Smeaton has long considered himself a guardian of the limits of Catholic orthodoxy, scouring the statements of bishops in search of "heterodoxy", frequently misquoting them or distorting their words in ways that undermine the authority of the Church's pastors. He has consistently criticised the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, in ways that in the view of Catholic Voices is quite inconsistent with the Catholic commitment to communion.
John Smeanton does not have to scour too hard in order to find a degree of heterodoxy in some of the words of some of our Bishops. The 'I don't knows' and 'I couldn't possibly comments' in response to questions concerning Church Teaching from women's ordination to gay marriage from certain high profile members of the Hierarchy could be nervous ticks, I suppose. We would all feel nervous in the spotlight, of course, but the Holy Father has asked, and we in obedience to him and the Magisterium he guards, ask, our Bishops to be bold and forthright in proclaiming the Gospel. It really is not too much to ask. If I, as a mere layman, 'um-ed' and 'ah-ed' on this blog, half as much as some ordained members of the Hierarchy in response to such questions, I would expect to be roundly condemned and rightly so.
Far from considering himself a 'guardian of the limits of Catholic orthodoxy' John Smeaton has upheld the Magisterium and defended it publicly on his blog, while notable writers in The Tablet and notable figures in influence in the Hierarchy have felt unable to do so, either lacking in essential formation in the Catholic Faith or displaying a degree of dissent from that Faith that they have the duty to uphold and defend. In particular, we can see this in the way in which Smeaton condemns the flagrant selling out of Catholic education via the CES to the previous Government's anti-life agenda with regard to the promotion of homosexuality, abortion, contraception and all those thorny issues that crowned Our Blessed Lord and caused His Head to issue Blood. He battles day after day for the Church, for the unborn and for the Pope and the Magisterium, just as the Bishops should do. When the possibility of teenage girls in Catholic schools being provided with contraceptives and abortions through Connexions turns from possibility to actuality, are Catholics to remain silent while The Tablet has a debate about the differing rights of a mother and baby?
'We are very troubled by blogs and other elements of media that assume the role of Magisterium and judge others in the Church'
Yes, I am sure that both in the US and in the UK, that is very true, but, Catholic Tradition suggests that it is not Catholic bloggers defending the Magisterium who will shatter the communion of the Church. As Fr Ray Blake says in his blog, 'In 1535, all the English Bishops, except St John Fisher, who might well have been described as a "Taliban" Catholic by Ivereigh, sold out the Church'. In the Great Apostasy, prophesised by Pope St Gregory the Great I, the Pope said that on the appearance of the Antichrist, 'not just hoards of laity but a veritable army of Bishops and Priests' will go over to him.
There, Dr Ivereigh, we have two very good warnings, one from the past and one regarding the future, to commend and congratulate Bishops when they uphold the Teaching of the Church and to be doggedly critical of them when they do the exact opposite because while Pope Benedict XVI's trip was a joyous success in which he routed his enemies, we are without doubt living in dangerous times for both the Church and the World. 'Taliban Catholics' are not critical of either The Tablet, the purveyors of moral relativism outlined in the post below, or prominent Bishops, because we are 'nasty' people. If 'Taliban Catholics' are critical, it is because we desire the salvation of souls and the liberty and exaltation of the Church, as every Catholic should, from Pope down to Laity up.