Tuesday 21 September 2010

"Behead Ivereigh!!!"

Catholic bloggers chat before going back to their keyboards...

Joking aside, I know I've kind of already given it away but, who, do you think, said this?

"We didn’t get an application from a Lefebvrite. We did get a few from what you would call the Taliban Catholics, who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it. We also had applications from people in favor of the ordination of women, and who in general believe that the reforms of Vatican II have been insufficiently implemented, and who are angry at the bishops for the opposite reasons."

Right, that's it...It's war! Death to liberalism! The problem with Austen's argument is that a great many Catholic bloggers, while using markedly different language to His Holiness, actually promote Catholic truth as he sees it, whereas Austen has a public record of promoting so called 'Catholic truth' as he most certainly does not see it!

Are we now being divided into Catholic moderates, Catholic extremists, dangerous militant Catholic extremists? I can tell you now that if just one of our Bishops was singing from the same hymn sheet as His Holiness, we'd be kissing the ground he walked on!

"It is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate."

~ Pope Benedict XVI in his Ad Limina address to the Bishops of England and Wales

John Smeaton, not just a blogger, but Head of the SPUC has openly criticised some Bishops for not defending the Catholic Faith with regard to Catholic schools over issues of abortion, contraception and the promotion of homosexual activity. Is he wrong? Is he an extremist too? Depressing!

What's your annual salary for your public, media-based defense of the Faith, Austen? Uh-huh, don't want to say, right? Well, we do this for free! Where was your letter in The Guardian defending the Holy Father against the new celebrity atheists?! I'm flat broke and mostly unemployed! Do the sums, mate, do the sums and you'll soon see that Catholic bloggers are a thousand times more sincere than you are!

H/T to another Catholic blogger.


Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

I thought that was a good interview and Austen explained the idea of Catholic voices very well.
It is a very positive, grassroots initiative in my opinion.
I think the taliban reference isn't completely wide of the mark given some of the activity on James's blog lately, especially in the combox.
It's a flaming free for all.

Patricius said...

I don't know this Ivereigh chap but I was VERY impressed by a couple of very articulate young people from Catholic Voices who were interviewed briefly on the television on Saturday evening. It was wonderful having the Catholic viewpoint put with clarity and style. I'm against women's ordination but I'd happily swap the one young woman who spoke so well for one or two of our bishops!

The Bones said...

I'm sure the CVs were great. I met one of them outside the Westminster Abbey while HH was here and he was sound as a pound.

I'm just concerned with what one of the co-ordinators of CV has said about Catholic bloggers.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

Another thing. I was recently at a 40 days For Life meeting in Farm St and I'm pretty certain that I later saw one of the organisers on TV making a brilliant impression as a Catholic Voice.
Which reminds me, I must crank up the old blog again, it's been in mothballs since the summer. I want to put a post up about 40 Days For Life, see here
It's starting tomorrow!
Would you let your readers know about it Laurence?

The Bones said...

40 days for life...Oh, I don't know...Hmmm...sounds a bit extreme to me.

Course I will. Crank up the blog, Clare!

Austen Ivereigh said...

Laurence, I’m sorry about your recent posts at a time when Catholics should be rejoicing together over a triumphant visit which has united Catholics around the See of Peter.

In response to your attempt at an auto-da-fe: I wasn't one of the signatories of a counter-letter to the "celebrity atheist" one in the Guardian because I didn't know about it before it was published; as it happened, one of the CVs did, so we were represented there -- as I would have happily been if I had been invited to sign.
What you will see, from our website and blog, is that we took on Tatchell, Grayling, Robertson and Copson among others in something like 40 debates -- in Conway Hall, the Odeon, and dozens of TV and radio broadcasts -- and gave testimony to our faith. So did the vox pops in the crowds -- they, too, were fantastic. But we were deliberately designed for the studios, to go up against sophisticated opponents in a high-pressure atmosphere.
In the Church's task of giving testimony, both kinds were necessary -- as was the third: the many bishops and priests who went before the microphones.

As to money, you'll see Jack and I have been quite open about the costs of the project, which come to about £50K. That funded the hire of Notre Dame facilities (about 12 hires I think) and refreshments at the briefing sessions, Worth Abbey for a four-day all-in retreat, the hire of radio and TV studios and six BBC and Sky News presenters for media skills trainings over three days, a media launch, and fees for one day a week over six months for three coordinators. Do the sums, and you'll see no one was doing this for money.

But mainly I'm hurt and offended by your characterisation in your previous post of the CV team as "PR men". The whole purpose of CV was to connect studios with "ordinary" (that is, not professional) Catholics who could speak clearly, humanly, accurately, but above all straightforwardly and from the heart about their faith, while being able to think on their feet and robustly answer sometimes ferocious criticism. I defy anyone to look at the more than 100 interviews or commentaries the CV team did (see some of them at the CV website, www.catholicvoices.org.uk) and tell me that they were anything less than brilliantly successful at this. Personally I abhor PR culture and techniques (defensive, manipulative, corporate) applied to the Church, and I think a lot of church communications have gone wrong because of it.

CV was a deliberate attempt to get away from the PR approach -- which is why it was set up. But we're not naive; it takes skill and practice to carry off an effective 3-minute interview on a rolling news channel, especially faced with a hailstorm of criticism from senior professional secularists and atheists who, unlike the CVs, had years (or decades, in Tatchell's case) of practice at this.

The coordinators can take credit for creating the project and organising it, but it's the CV team themselves who made it a success -- because of who they are, and their faith. No amount of training can substitute for compelling Catholics who speak from the heart -- and that's what our team were, and I'm damn proud of them; and that's why I don't have to keep silence when you try to trash them.

I think you've failed to grasp the significance of what happened last week. The Holy Father's presence, and the extraordinary energy and goodwill it generated, has served to unite Catholics in a quite remarkable way. Negativity and anger have been swept away. Charity, on the whole, abounds. You seem to have absented yourself from the party.

The Bones said...

Austen, I applaud your efforts with Catholic Voices. I'm not at all slagging off your work with them, nor them, as I have heard they were very good and gave a wonderful testimony to the Catholic Faith.

My gripe is with you and your labelling of those not chosen as a group of "Taliban Catholics" while your personal record in defending Pope Benedict XVI has been somewhat lukewarm.

Charity is a two way street, Austen. Your choice of language showed little of it to those who feel passionately about the Catholic Faith and who defend the Church and the Papacy day in, day out for no money whatsoever.

You could have just said, we didn't choose these people because the Bishops consider them to be divisive because they speak up for orthodoxy or something, but you didn't.

The Bones said...

Furthermore, the video of George and Michael wasn't done to diss the excellent witness given by the CV team, but to propose an alternative range of voices not heard.

If you've taken their contribution to the defense of the Church to heart, I'm sorry, but there can be little argument that there was a culture of elitism. How many of the CV team were unemployed?

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

I hardly think it's George and Michaels contribution to the defense of the church that has hurt Austen!
Catholic Voices is a very positive and welcome effort and we should be applauding it, not running down the people who have worked so hard to make it happen.
So they didn't select the representatives that you and James would like to see? That's their perogative and their judgement call to make.
Until I saw all the nastiness on James blog I had no idea that this kind of attitude existed in catholic blog land.
I thought we were all essentially batting for the same team and could be polite about the areas where we disagree.
You run your blog your way. That's your Catholic Voice. You can phone up any radio sation or contact a TV show and perhaps you can get your voice heard there too.
You want to put up George and Michael to articulate their defence of the church? Go you!

I thought Austens comment on the taliban catholics was mild. Go over and look at the bile poured out at James blog, the comments are truly unbelievably nasty. My atheist friends understand the golden rule better than that clique of priggish and pharisaical "catholics".

I am totally convinced that this is a matter of delicate egos feeling bruised at not having a more central role in all this.

James's blog is constantly bashing the bishop ( yes deliberate double entendre) It is a BAD BAD witness for our faith. Anyone with half an eye in their head can see that! No way could he be put on the CV team. He is divisive and loving it.

Austen, I'm truly sorry you and Jack have had to put up with this crap. Thank you for being involved in trying to do something positive.
To the list of things that, like death and taxes, will always be with us, we can add criticism.

The Bones said...

Comments boxes are places of largely free comment, aren't they?

The Bones said...

I didn't mean why didn't you sign the letter...

I meant, why do we never see letters like that from you who are paid handsomely in your role.

Clare@ BattlementsOfRubies said...

No Laurence, what is going on in the combox there is the sin of detraction. There is a grave lack of charity and justice. James is providing a forum for that and egging them on, so he is also party to it.
Furthermore, he himself bashes the bishop ( yes *giggle* )
He openly pokes fun at those who have been put in authority over us.
In light of his openly disrespectful disagreement and derision I find his "praying for the bishop" box on his sidebar to be a mockery.

In addition, when I commented there I found myself to be the subject of very unpleasant and disturbing abuse. I recieved six anonymous emails. Some commenters were saying that I was so hateful ( for not agreeing with them) that I shouldn't be around children and asked "did social services know" that I was home educating?
I responded to one especially hysterical commenter by telling her that I managed to maintain my heroic patience with her by reading all her comments in the voice of Noddy Holder.
THAT comment was deleted by the moderators.
However comments speculating on the sexual proclivities of certain priests ( and more lately digging around to ascertain the identity of a young man reputed to be aa close friend of said priest) are all left to stand.
It is a gossip rag and profanes the name of Catholic.

The Bones said...

Finally, the 'PR men' thing wasn't aimed at the CV candidates, Austen. It was aimed at you and Jack. You might hate it. I'm sorry if this offends you, but I just don't think the Faith can be 'spun'.

Austen Ivereigh said...

Laurence, thanks for posting my comments in full and for your responses.

You've been provoked by the 'Taliban' reference. I said in the Allen interview, "what YOU call Taliban Catholics" because Allen coined the phrase some months ago -- see http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/dallas-experiment-orthodoxy-and-openness, where he says it describes a mindset:

"On the one extreme lies what my friend and colleague George Weigel correctly terms 'Catholicism Lite,' meaning a watered-down, sold-out form of secularized religiosity, Catholic in name only. On the other is what I call 'Taliban Catholicism,' meaning a distorted, angry form of the faith that knows only how to excoriate, condemn, and smash the TV sets of the modern world."

I think Clare's description of Preece's blog matches Allen's definition. I think both he and Smeaton typify that mentality -- angry at the bishops for what they see as "compromising" the faith, and combing the bishops' words (and those of others, including regularly my own) in search of hetorodoxy, distorting and misquoting those words in the process. It's a mindset that undermines communion, using "orthodoxy" as a weapon, much as the Taliban do.

You fall into this "auto-da-fe" backwoodsmen mentality when you accuse me of being "lukewarm" in defence of Benedict XVI. That is a slur, and grossly unjustified. Look through my many articles and interviews on wwww.catholicvoices.org.uk and you'll find me defending himm on clerical sex abuse (not least recently on Panorama), in many pieces on Aids/condoms, and in response to Robertson, Copson, Tatchell etc. on C4, Sky News, Radio 4 etc. etc. I defended him robustly at a bearpit debate at Conway Hall some weeks ago. I've got two articles in major American weeklies this week lauding the Pope's visit. So I don't think I've any lessons to take from you on that score. More in a minute...

Austen Ivereigh said...

Your question about how many CVs are unemployed -- the answer is that there were three at the beginning; now I think it's one. A couple of others are inbetween studies and jobs.

As to Jack and I being "PR men" -- I've always fought against the PR mentality in the Church, when I worked in comms there years ago. I think J and I understand a little of how the media work, something of their constraints and limitations, and how best to communicate Catholicism within those constraints. I learned a lot, many years ago, from Opus Dei's media operation -- and their comms department at Santa Croce in Rome, which is the most professional and strategic operation I know of in the Church. I think "PR" is a misdescription, but I can understand how people who are not part of this world might lump it altogether. What makes Santa Croce's approach stand out is its radical transparency, its sympathy with and understanding of journalism, and its entrepreneurial approach. Whatever you want to call it, it's damn good, and rooted in the Gospel.

I agree that the Faith can't be "spun", and I don't think we've ever done that.

Anyway, good luck with all that you do in defence of the Faith -- I've nothing against blogs (I write for a number of them), only a certain mentality and culture which prevail on some of them, which I think undermine communion and give a poor witness -- as Clare was saying much more eloquently than I can -- to what we believe and who we are. I hope that the Holy Father's visit can teach us all a thing or two about how to work together better in the future.

The Bones said...

Okay, Austen, I understand I may have been unfair on you. Your words have clearly been misconstrued. If so, I apologise.

I'm glad that you are on the Good Ship Benedict and long may he reign.

So, tell me, Austen, at what point in your career did you decide that The Tablet had lost sight of the Catholic Faith and had become a vehicle for dissent of Catholic Teaching?

I know you're not editor anymore, just wondering what you make of it nowadays?

Austen Ivereigh said...

I've never decided that about the Tablet. I was never its editor. I write for it still. And subscribe. That should answer your question.

Thanks for the apology.

The Bones said...

Well, now you know why you are distrusted by various sections of the 'Taliban'.

The magazines ought to be bought up, sealed in individual bags, labelled as toxic and thrown into a lake, because if there is one thing that endangers the souls of the Faithful, it is reading literature that goes out of its way to subvert, undermine, discredit and weaken the body of Catholic Truth for which men and women down the ages have died and the Papacy that is Guardian of it.

Reading pornography may be very sinful, but at least it isn't heretical.

Richard Collins said...

Err.....as a member of the Taliban Catholic brigade I hesitate to enter this fray but feel that I should do so because I do really object to that tag (accepted that it was not Austen Ivereigh's in the first place).

I also believe that we should and must take issue with the ragbag bunch of Bishops we have in E & W.
It is our duty to challenge them and question them as to why they have not implemented the Motu Proprio, why they still discriminate disgracefully against many priests who would like to say the EF Mass, why they caved in over the adoption by homosexuals debacle, why they allow such awful and heretical teaching in Catholic Schools (my own children were once catechized by a bunch of American Baptists, uknown to us until too late)and then, the issue was dismissed by the Bishop.
I could go on but, until the Bishops move to support the Holy Father and the Faith, they will get more of the same.

pattif said...

I'm sorry, but I don't think the epithet 'Catholic Taliban' was coined by John Allen "some months ago". I first heard it used a couple of years ago by a senior member of the Catholic establishment to describe those members of the governing body of the Hospital of St John and St Elizabeth who were campaigning for the adoption of a Code of Ethics for the hospital that was congruent with Catholic teaching (i.e. no prescriptions for artificial contraceptives, no referrals for abortion, no IVF treatment, etc.). The clear implication was that the expectation that a Catholic institution should conduct its affairs in accordance with the teaching of the Church, rather than compromising with secular realities, equated to fundamentalism, and it came as no surprise when those thus described were compelled to resign.

Austen 1: Lawrence 0 said...

You're lucky Austen didn't sue your ass. You still haven't made a proper apology or retraction for your inaccurate and unsubstantiated comments.

In another post you also claim that Cafod supports abortion. If I was chief exec of Cafod, I would be speaking to the lawyers. Stop getting carried away and learn to keep your ego in check.

Frideswide said...

On 22nd September, Austen Ivereigh posts that the costs of the Catholic Voices project have included: “fees for one day a week over six months for three coordinators.”
According to its website, Catholic Voices was launched in February 2010. It became a charity registered with the Charity Commission on 5th August 2010, less than six months later. The three trustees of the charity are its three coordinators, Jack Valero, Austen Ivereigh and Kathleen Griffin. If Austen Ivereigh’s statement is accurate and payments for services were made to the three coordinators for a full six months – which would cover a period after Catholic Voices became a charity – some questions would arise. Trustees of a charity may be paid for services they provide to the charity, but only subject to strict conditions explained by the Charity Commission in Section E, Paying Trustees for Services, of CC11 here: http://www.charity-commission.gov.uk/Publications/cc11.aspx#5 . As well as the documentary requirements at E4 that the decisions to pay must be recorded in detail separately from the charity’s minutes, these conditions include the requirement in Section E1 that the decision to pay a trustee must be made by trustees who will not benefit, and the requirement in Section E9 that payment for services may only be made if, at the time in question, the total number of trustees receiving payment from the charity’s funds will be in a minority on the trustee board. If, as Austen Ivereigh implies, all three trustees have received payment for services over a period of six months, it is not easy to see how the mechanics of the decisions to make payment would have complied with these requirements. It would be reassuring to have it confirmed that, since Catholic Voices became a charity, its trustees have complied and continue to comply with all the requirements of the Charity Commission.

The Pope Who Won't Be Buried

It has been a long time since I have put finger to keyboard to write about our holy Catholic Faith, something I regret, but which I put larg...