Say What You Mean, Mean What Say, But Don’t Say it Mean. On The Tone of Recent (mostly deleted) Comments.

I remember my first experience of being the topic of discussion on the Internet. It was about a year before I was asked by the Archdiocese to be a blogger for this Blog of the Archdiocese. I had been on the cover of US News and World Report. The photo was taken of me celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass. (See photo at right). The photo circulated on some of the Blogs at that time and while the reaction was, overall, positive, I was quite surprised by some of the highly critical and personal nature of the negative remarks:

  1. Look he’s not using canonical fingers (I was).
  2. He’s leaning back too far (maybe)
  3. He’s holding the chalice too high and looks far too dramatic (maybe, but I was praying, not counting inches of altitude).
  4. Why’s that deacon touching the altar – he no right to do that! (because he’s older and needed to steady himself).
  5. Why are those vestments so modern?  (What ever)
  6. The Burse should have been on the gradine, not the mensa (oh what a wretch am I!)
  7. Why does that Monsignor have a red (actually it was fuchsia) pom on his biretta? (seen in another photo). Who does he think he is, some prelate? (Actually I didn’t know any better, and was given the biretta by an older Msgr to wear who had it from the days before 1970 when the norms for vesture changed. I have discontinued the pom).
  8. US News should have sought out the Fraternity or the Institute for a better picture (sigh….yes!)
  9. Etc.

One kind lady finally intervened and said, “Stop! You’ll make it so no priest ever wants to celebrate the old rite.” She was right and I have been told by a lot of younger guys who love the Traditional Mass that they are “scared” to celebrate it. There are various reasons but one of them is the lack of breathing room for honest mistakes and the need to learn by experience. Some of them have experienced that this  that doesn’t seem offered by some of the very few (but sadly vocal) rubricists in congregations, and  more on the Internet who seem to want to demonstrate their knowledge of some of the most arcane details, at the expense of others.

The experience for me was a kind of wake up call to the nastiness that sometimes sets in on blogs where people interact with people they don’t really know. There is, thus,  little appreciation for the feelings or the personal dignity of the ones with whom they disagree or critique.

As I have I now been blogging for over two years, I have become accustomed to difficulties the Internet can sometimes present to civil discussion. The vast majority of commentators here are kind, and willing to engage in mutually respectful conversation in the comment threads. I am able to post most of the comments that come in without any concern.

I DO appreciate vigorous and honest discourse and am undisturbed that disagreements are frankly aired. But there comes a line that, when crossed, makes me hit delete, or post the comment, but with a blow of the referee’s whistle.

Recently however, I am getting more comments that are just plain rude, mean or unnecessarily personal. I have had to press the delete button more than I’d like. It is not just the use of profanity that is alarming (and that too is becoming more common), but it is the excoriation of one’s opponents with dismissive labels and terms which either question their orthodoxy, or their love of the poor, label them as rigid or as communists, etc.

There is also the unnecessary ridicule of positions. And most of these comments come in the context of a discussion outside dogmatically defined issues, where reasonable people, reasonable Catholics,  can differ and terminology may have more than one meaning, where the presumption of good faith and the celebration of the Catholic faith ought to be presumed. Gentle corrections are appreciated, but making a person look foolish is usually unnecessary.

The most nasty remarks often center around liturgy and the social doctrine of the Church.

As for liturgy, while there are norms to which we must submit, there is also legitimate diversity permitted by the Church.  It is alright to have and state preferences, and even advocate for them. But too often various “camps” hurl stones back and forth and look down on others who are merely exercising legitimate options. The lovers of the Traditional Latin Mass have spent years in exile and been treated very poorly. Others who prefer more charismatic forms of the Mass are also ridiculed by some. And both these communities can also dish it out. But to be clear, as long as we stay inside the guard rails of the norms, there are various and legitimate lanes, whatever your preference. A little mutual respect please.

As for the social doctrine of the Church, here too there is a wide variety of understanding as to the application of those teachings. Catholics of different political backgrounds will differ on how best to apply some of the norms in caring for the poor. Further there has been the division of the Church along certain lines,  the life and moral issues on one side, and the social issues on the other. To be sure, we need a division of labor. Everyone can’t do everything. Those who advocate for the poor ought to be glad that others are working to end abortion. And those in the pro-life community ought to be glad, and see as partners, those in the Church who advocate for, and serve the poor. We should value one another as the basis for any discussion. There may still be differences on details and emphasis, but the over all demeanor should be one of grateful appreciation for the work of the other. That should set the tone for the discussion.

Even in the necessary corrections where a commentator, or the blog author, has strayed from doctrinal accuracy, it is healthy to presume good will on their part, and that they did not wish or intend to stray from Catholic teaching. Further it is helpful to assume that terminology can and does often have technical uses, and more colloquial uses as well. This is not a blog for highly trained theologians, it is for the ordinary faithful who often speak in manners that are more relaxed and less technical. Rushing to accuse others of “error” or “heterodoxy” or humiliating them for the terminology of their comment may win the argument, but discourage a member of the faithful from ever evangelizing again, or being  “out there” with their faith. Here too, gentle correction and distinction can be helpful, but with love. We are all brothers and sisters.

As for those outside our faith some of whom may initiate with a hostile tone, I will often call them on it and encourage them to stick to the issue. But here too, we who respond ought to try and stick to the issue.

Some helpful advice was recently posted at  The New Liturgical Movement regarding comments and, while the subject at hand was artistic criticism, I have the adpated the advice for our context. Please consider what David Clayton says:

It seems to be an aspect of human nature that criticism flows more easily than praise, and this is never more apparent in the comments at the bottom of blogs! However, some subjects particularly seem to attract the ire of readers…I always hold my breath. I know it will attract a hail of criticism from people who worry that it does not conform to what they believe to be the standard…Criticism and differing opinions are not bad things in themselves. After all, we are trying to re-establish a culture of beauty in the West and beauty by its very nature it is difficult to pin down precisely. One should expect differing reactions and ideas of what is good. So please, let’s have them. However, I would like to make some points about the nature and tone of some of the criticisms made.

First, a request: if you are stating opinions, please do so in the spirit that concedes that others may have other perfectly valid opinions. Like email, blog comments seem to be a forum in which it is difficult not to express things abruptly and so appear rude. It’s not always easy I know, to make sure that what we write has a gentle manner. I would ask us all to try. [People]  must expect critique of their position, but they should not have to put up with rudeness. ….

If you can explain why you think as you do, that would be helpful, especially if you don’t like something. If you do not, then what you are giving us [seems] just a subjective opinion….[And]  if they are opinions, let’s make it clear that this is all they are rather than presenting them as indisputable truths….

Archeologism: the comments of some seem to stem from an assumption that culture existed in a perfect form at some point in the past and that the work of man over time has caused it to degenerate. The main concern for those who believe this, therefore, is a strict conformity to the past glorious (sometimes arbitrarily assigned) age. Working from tradition, in contrast, is more nuanced. It respects the past and does not seek change without good reason, but always seeks to understand why something was done in a particular way. It accepts that sometimes we must develop and reapply the core principles in response to contemporary challenges or if there is a need to communicate something new. Sometimes this development will be so great that a new tradition is established…..

Dealing with imperfection: even if something is partially wrong or in error or even just disliked, it doesn’t mean that we can’t learn something from it……

As a general principle, given that we are in a process of re-establishing a culture of beauty, I would generally advocate a conservative approach to what goes in our churches at the moment. However,…. flexibility and adaptability underpinned by good discernment is the source of richness and vigor in Christian culture. …No doubt along the way there were innovations … that were rejected as a whole, but nonetheless contributed something to what eventually became … acceptable.

These are adapted excerpts the full article is here: Some Thoughts About Criticism

A final disclaimer. I do not claim I get the balance and the tone perfectly. This post is not written from on high, from one who is perfect, to those who are not. Rather this is for “us” who interact on this relatively new medium of the Internet where the face and person on the other side of the screen are not seen. Yet those with whom we interact ARE human persons. In recent months I have been increasingly bothered at the tone of some incoming comments, most of which I had to delete, and you never saw. Some of them were just plain unkind, others hypercritical, still others rude and riddled with personal attack. Some others were clearly only an attack, and not a request for real discussion. Some were directed personally at me, others at some of the commentators here. Still others were mean-spirited attacks at the bishops, those who prefer other permitted liturgical forms, or those who come from a different theological tradition within the Church than they.

I will say that some of these comments cause me great personal grief, whether for myself or those who are unfairly or excessively attacked. So for us all, whom Christ loves, and for whom he died, let’s consider that the one on the other side of the screen is a human person, worthy of respect. And to be clear, most of us don’t need this post in an absolute sense, but just as a gentle reminder. God bless you.

88 Replies to “Say What You Mean, Mean What Say, But Don’t Say it Mean. On The Tone of Recent (mostly deleted) Comments.”

  1. I have to admire one who writes a Blog, is on You-Tube or writes newspaper articles. I am sure some of the responses you get are downright hateful. My granddaughter who does write was told not to read the responses, however I know you can’t do that. I hope all of who write a comment can be civil and practice a Christian attitude so that we are allowed to continue with our input. For your part–thank you for your patience.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement and for reading. I think YouTube is the worst of all. But it really is quite surprising how unkind we can be to one another on the Internet.

  2. So well stated. Perhaps we can regain civility in discourse, so we pray.

  3. Bravo! Great post, well balanced, and very timely. I had to reject a distasteful comment today that left me quite disappointed and praying for the individual. I too have had an increase in nasty, sour comments from people who aren’t happy unless they are unhappy. Many of the ones I have had to delete are not in disagreement with me, but are clearly personal attacks on others.

    I think we need to raise the bar in the blogosphere and other media.

    It never ceases to amaze me that Christians can behave like pagans who do not know Jesus Christ. Yet, this happens every time people forget about 1 Corinthians 13 (or seem to think it only applies to “all those other people”.)

    1. An interesting turn of a phrase, “not happy unless they’re unhappy.” I also think that some have been in the battle so long that they see every forum as a battle ground rather than a place where kindred souls are also to be found.

      1. Consider for a moment Matthew 26:51-52.

        What happens on the web is that people use their tongue as a sword causing injury to others. Yet, Our Lord did not want to be defended in this way.

        We would not have opportunities to practice the virtues if we all understood things the same way. This is our Babel.

  4. Well said, Father!

    And that video is amazing! Some people have it in them to do some extraordinary (and risky) things – maybe for fun, maybe to teach the lesson the song relays.

    Both your post and the video are great and necessary reminders of something we cannot afford to become lax about, in this day and age in which so many have become instant “broadcasters” and “news anchors” and “communicators” due to the wide use of new media.

    Media is meant to be used well, especially by us who hold the Master as our standard and model, and are held by Him to such high standards – and expected to attain the very holiness of Christ!

    We must never forget the sobering words of Jesus Christ, Our Lord, recorded in the Gospel according to St. Matthew (12: 36-37): “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned.”

    The same is true in our personal and ecclesial interactions, especially when we feel tempted to assert that our spirituality or movement, apostolate or ministry is more important than yours. St. Paul speaks clearly about resisting that temptation and making sure we don’t assume we are it! “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. To each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit… If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended.” (1 Corinthians 12)

    May we be indeed salt and light, and spread the sweet aroma of Christ in the world, and be ever more careful not to say or write a careless word for which we will have to give an account on the day of judgment.


  5. I love the TLM, because it’s beauty has had such a profound effect on me and my relationship with God. But I know exactly the kind of people your talking about. Their criticisms turn the rubrics into an impossible burden for a priest… much like the Law was for the Jews. I wish more charity, more encouragement was given by that small portion(~10%) of the TLM community. I think they are a minority within the TLM community but happen to bark the loudest. All in all, I became incredibly sad reading your post, but I am glad you wrote it.

  6. Dear Msgr. Pope,
    You are so right in your above discussion. It is getting worse, I’ve noticed it on other blogs as well.
    We are living in tough times and attacks on our faith are increasing. But we shall prevail.
    I liked that picture on US World, makes me proud to be catholic.
    Keep up the good work, you are most loved.

  7. In my humble opinion, your blog and teachings are clearly from God, your humility and humor are part of you. The combination is harmonious with your vocation. Thank you for the funny responses to the responses regarding the US News cover page, thank you for my now favorite video posted above. Every opportunity I have to reshare the video, I do so. It is about unity and unity is necessary worldwide, at a minimum, unity within the church with all of its diversity.

  8. Thank you for publishing this, Msgr. I’ve noticed a lot of the Catholic blogs I enjoy reading becoming nastier, and some bloggers starting to lose patience with it. It’s very discouraging.

  9. Msgr, what a terrific post. I too blog, and you’ve given voice to something that we all experience and that weighs upon us with each post. I have great respect for this blog and thank you, again, for your words

  10. When I began to make comments on the internet, my apparently innate combativeness exacerbated the effects of the impersonality of the internet, and I expressed my opinions and arguments as forcefully as I could. I regarded what was happening as a debate to be won, rather than a discussion among friends.

    Although I like to think I have mellowed, it looks as if there is a whole of debate-mode rather than discussion-mode commenting going on across the internet. Perhaps this should not be surprising. There is an “intensity factor” involved. One has to feel strongly, in one way or another, to take the time to post a comment. And if the strong feeling is disagreement with what one has read, the disagreement is likely to be strongly expressed.

    So how do we get people to keep a civil tongue in their keyboards? In my case it was rebukes which pointed out the unnecessary offensiveness of my words directed at people who were worthy of my respect. In some cases, it may be necessary to remind people that they catch more flies with vinegar than with honey. God created the “delete” button to deal with trolls; but if you have the time and patience to administer rebukes to
    honest people who just get carried away, it may help in the long run. I don’t envy you having to moderate a large number of comments.

  11. Msgr. Pope, Thank you. Stay strong, there are so many of us who’s only opportunity to ever hear your teachings and thoughts will be via this blog. It has become one of my daily fixes and I’m sure I’m not alone in this. You are in my prayers of thanksgivings.
    Deacon Jerry

  12. Dear Msgr,
    Off topic, but now seems a good time- Thank you, and thank you to the others, who write for this blog. I am a convert, and I very much appreciate the articles.
    B Frame

  13. Dear Msgr Pope: This is actually the first time I’ve read your blog, though I’ve heard it cited repeatedly by Fr. Ed Sylvia on the “Women of Grace” radio show. I certainly can sympathize with what you expressed… many of the same reasons you cite are why I am no longer on Facebook. Perhaps someday I’ll have the courage to return to the net to advocate for the Kingdom. I’m happy that you are already doing that. I’m also surprised that you actually read comments. In my humble opinion, it’s a good way to drive oneself crazy. Blessings and keep up the good work!

    1. Yes, in some way the comments are really the ultimate point. I think what blogs do best is to generate discussion as well as disseminate info. Hence I try whenever I can to participate in the discussion.

  14. Thank you for saying this – it is so overdue. I have not seen such rancor among the faithful as I have on the blogs of late; it is horrible and disheartening. I am often accused of being “too Vatican II” (an era I largely missed because I left the Church for 18 years, go figure.) And I take a lot of flack because of the opinions of many regarding my bishop and diocese. (For the record I am privileged to be a member of this diocesan community and I hold my bishop in high regard.)

    In fact, I work for a parish and I can tell you that I often get an earful… I am the office manager/secretary, often the first person anyone sees or encounters, talk about a privilege. In any event, I am not there to discuss the pastor’s business, I will schedule an appointment for anyone who wishes to see him and he sees anyone who asks. (Generally the worst complaints come from people who refuse to see him, that in itself, telling.) What I do try to do is to pose a question about what Christ has asked of us, His people? And can we find and focus on the tremendous gifts of our common beliefs?

    We inflict death upon the Body of Christ by thousands and millions of cuts when we engage in the negative behaviors seen online of late. And you really said it, if we do not realize that we are all human persons, with the dignity inherent in all of us, and then act that way, we are in trouble.

    Thank you again for your words. Peace and good to all.

    1. Yes, indeed, death by a thousand cuts. Thanks for your testimony and we can only hope that gentle reminders will help us all to remember the well being of the whole body, not just my little cell.

  15. I am very sorry that Msgr. Pope receives rude comments. He is not a writer who in my experience prompts any vitriol in me. What prompts vitriol in me are action or lack of action–i.e., such as the lack of action, so far, with regard to the bishop of Albany and his communicant the governor of New York and the lack of action of the archbishop of New York with regard to the bishop of Albany.

    That kind of inaction dwarfs for me all the Corapi craziness and any thoughts I might harbor about the Novus Ordo mass. Maybe the devil made Corapi do it and in time any inadequacies in the Novus Ordo can be corrected.

    But in the meantime we have silence on Cuomo the Catholic from the bishop of Albany and silence from the archbishop of New York on the bishop of Albany. Certainly we cannot blame Msgr. Pope or any other commentators, left or right, on the Great Silence.

    All we can do is wait and see what, if anything, may happen. Leadership among the bishops takes guts and the pope seems to be appointing more bishops who think in an orthodox fashion. Whether they will have the guts to rein in the Cuomos and Pelosis and Durbins is quite another matter.

  16. Msgr.– Your blog is superb! What a blessing you are to the Archdiocese of Washington, and the Internet. Keep on keepin’ on, brother! Wear out that ol’ delete button, if you have to . . .

  17. Father,

    Your blog was quoted in my parish’s bulletin yesterday. You reach so many who would not otherwise have access to your teachings. Fight the good fight; I look forward to your blog every day.

  18. What a beautiful video! Monsignor, please keep doing what you do so well and try not to let those of us who are unkind deter you in any way. We have much to learn yet and I personally have learned a great deal from reading blog posts and then reading responses. I am always right until someone points how wrong I “might” be. God bless you and your vocation. And tell those younger priests to say the Traditional Mass until they get it “right”. Peace and God bless.

  19. Epistle 207
    My some thoughts about “the homily” of Msgr. Charles Pope are here below:
    Firstly, in the homily, Msgr. Charles Pope said that Father’s blog is not a blog for highly trained- theologians, it is for the ordinary faithful who often speak in manners that are more relaxed and less technical.
    Especially, in today’s homily, Msgr. Charles Pope complained that many recent comments caused Father great personal grief. Therefore, Father ought to delete them.
    Secondly, now permit me to discuss some problems to clarify further the homily hereafter:
    I am a writer (or author of articles) and a translator to translate English BBC articles into Vietnamese language as an expert.
    Estimating to this day, I wrote and translated about five thousands pages of Microsoft office’s word.
    The purpose of my writing and translating are that so that I understand myself and improve myself, at the same time in order to help others as much as I can.
    I don’t concern on certain reader’s thoughts that my articles and translations are right or wrong, good or bad. That is problem of my reader.
    However, from early 2011 to this day, I have begun to comment on homilies of Msgr. Charles Pope as this epistle so that I understand myself as a commentator.
    Some my experiences as a commentator are:
    When I want to comment an article, for instance, I ought to read it carefully. I will point out its strengths and weaknesses. Thus, author of the article can improve himself because author ought to learn from commentator, and conversely.
    At the same time a commentator needs to have own limits:
    As a Catholic, when commenting on Gospel of Lord, I can comment on all words of Lord except Lord Jesus himself, that is, I ought to admit that Jesus is my Lord meanwhile I comment on Lord’s words.
    If I comment on Lord’s words but I don’t respect Lord, then my comments are valueless.
    Finally, I quite agree with Msgr. Charles Pope that Father can delete comments which exceed its limits, if Father wants to do so./.

  20. This is very timely. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been attacked online because I don’t attend a Latin Mass. Been called a lot of names, too, but the worst is probably being called a heathen because I don’t mind the NO. I’m a very new convert and wasn’t raised Catholic so I didn’t even realize there were all these different factions until I started checking out the Catholic blogs online. It was very disconcerting, actually. The mass is something I was expecting a lot of unity about and to find such divisions and such hard feelings about it was a surprise.

  21. I enjoy your blog and look forward to it everyday. Sometimes people don’t think enough about their words and postings (myself included) and we need to be reminded of it. Thank you for doing just that!

  22. As always, the first thing I read in the morning are the blogs by you and Deacon Greg. What a great way to start my day! You both help to give me purpose. Please remember, Our Lord had his share of critics too! May He continue to inspire you, as you in turn, inspire me. God Bless.

  23. The tone of discussion found on the internet may be part of the nature of the medium (and mankind).

    Media guru and notable Catholic convert, Marshall McLuhan, who predicted the coming of the interent thirty years before it appeared had this to say about how our global electronic nervous sytem would effect mankind:
    “The global village is at once wide as the planet and as small as a little town where everybody is maliciously engaged in poking his nose into everybody else’s business.”

  24. Dear Mgr Pope:

    As a seminarian (St Joseph Major Seminary, Edmonton), I find your blog posts to be especially edifying. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

    I, too, have been deeply troubled by the uncharitable and caustic remarks that have come from certain readers of blogs, and I am very sorry that you have to put up with these. In any case, do not be discouraged, and keep you your good work!

    Vivat Iesus!
    Matthew G. Hysell MA MTh

  25. Amen!
    Love your neighbor as yourself applies always with no exception.
    Folks who don’t regard civility really put the shame on the themselves. The most disturbing aspect of this is that today so many people refuse to be held accountable let alone have any remorse. The stress and harm they sow is incalcuable and the toll it takes on those who have to suffer these inconsiderations is, frankly, unacceptable.

  26. Msgr. , It is with great sadness that i read about the sharp criticism that you receive on your blog. Whatever the topic they are ‘attaching’ it brings me great sorrow we can’t come together in charity. We can only pray always for one another and respond to sharpness with sweetness.

    1. Yes, thanks. And to be clear it is not always me they attack, it is often some of you who comment or bishops or others, and the attack is often most unkind.

  27. Well said. In my opinion, when otherwise sincere and faithful Catholics tear at each other it is the work of the evil one. He wants to divide us. It’s not enough to be right. We have to love while we are right! It is the mark of today’s pagan culture to rip people to shreds. How can we act like that? I personally feel a great lack of peace when I see all the wretched arguing we engage in.

    I am beginning to think that the whole phenomenon of allowing comments on EVERYTHING is misguided. For example, on many internet news sites it seems to lead primarily to some of the most bigoted and hateful comments one has ever seen, in which a very small minority of people (I hope it’s a minority) who relish ripping others apart now have WAY more influence than they deserve. The anti-Christian comments I see out there make me alarmed, but the hate seems to be directed at every other group too.

    Funny we’re discussing this, because today I planned to reflect on these words of Our Lord: “From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. I tell you, on the day of judgment, men will render account for every careless word they utter.” !!!!!

    1. Perhaps you are right. I had not thought of this but it would seem that some people are more prone to comment when they disagree and this may skew the results to the negative a bit.

  28. Someone didn’t complain that the vestments were the wrong shade of purple? My stepmother once was cited by her homeowner’s association for painting her front door the wrong shade of dark green. Apparently she used Hunter Green instead of Forest Green. She had to repaint it or get fined.

    There are times when details matter, and times when a focus on details is a distraction from the topic under discussion. Those who picked on the postures of the celebrant and assisting clergy, and the placement of the altar stuff completely missed the point about what is attracting people to more traditional forms of worship. [What in the world are “canonical fingers” and I haven’t a clue about Criticism #6.]

    Although spelling and grammar mistakes can make me cringe [it’s v. its being a particular pet peeve] I don’t feel a need to jump on every error I see. I try to be careful with my own writing, but certainly I’m not perfect myself. Knowing that I live in a glass house I generally confine myself to pointing out errors that may change the meaning of what the author intended, or find amusing given the context.

    1. 🙂 Thanks for your mercy. I know I often have typos – too many late night blogging sessions! As for canonical fingers, they are the thumb and index fingers. In the Latin Mass the priest, after the consecration of the host, is directed not to un-join those fingers until after he purifies his fingers and the vessels. As for # 6 the burse is a square purse-like pouch that the the folded corporal rests in when not in use. It should be placed off to the side, and on an upper ledge (gradine) of the altar rather than on table top near the tabernacle, as a general rule.

      Anyway, thanks for NOT knowing the minutia since it can be a recipe for insanity!

      1. I think I would have to have everything typed up on a cheat sheet on the inside of my arm.

      2. Tsk, Monsignor. “Minutia” is a first-declension singular; the plural, then, is “minutiae.” 😉
        That magazine cover photo of you made my heart sing. Such beauty!

  29. Thanks for this blog Msgr. Pope. (Huge sigh of relief!!) I recently got a little riled up over comments posted in response to the debt ceiling blog and posted a rather harsh response to another blogger. I wanted to expand on my post but couldn’t quite articulate my frustration, but this blog hit the nail on the head. My understanding is that the social doctrine of the church does not preclude government sponsored programs for the poor and when I see a blog that says those programs aren’t Catholic I read that to mean I am a bad Catholic because I hold that position or even worse I am not Catholic at all.

    I welcome correction if my views aren’t consistent with the doctrine of the Church or if I overstep the boundary of courtesy. I am not as educated or articulate as many of the other bloggers, but I CHERISH my faith, want only to support those things that are consistent with Catholic teaching, and read the blog to help me grow in my understanding of these issues.

    I will keep reading and in the future and will consider how MY comments may be construed by my fellow bloggers before posting. My rosary today is for you and all my fellow bloggers. Grateful thanks to you and Fr. Hurd for your work to bring this wonderful resource to us.

    1. Thanks for the input here. In regards to the matter you raise, Catholic Social doctrine does not preclude your view. There are others who would like to see greater subsidiarity too and they are not excluded. In the end we have to find a good balance and there are different Catholic ways of doing the math on that, both acceptable.

  30. Msgr, what a wonderful post. I’m relatively new to posting on blogs but what has absolutely surprised me is not only the rudeness from some who are posting; but also from some bloggers themselves. And, these are all Catholic bloggers! I told one blogger that I was not going to be posting any longer due to his very condescending attitude. I was recently corrected for using the term Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist. When I was asked for an explanation on why my terminology was incorrect I was told to consult my husband for an explanation (who is a Deacon). This, sorry to say, has not been my only experience with rude bloggers.
    They have somehow forgotten about Christian charity.

  31. Love the post. It reminds me of a poem I heard years ago when the net first started “I cast a query to the net, haven’t received an answer yet…” It goes on to state all the corrections to the question and the ignorance of the poster. This has been a problem with the net since the beginning [especially in un-moderated sites]. The reason is that we are annonymous. [I can respond with a fake name.]

    In addition it can not be assumed that all responders are Catholic, or even christian. Some responses (seen elsewhere) make it obvious that the responder is posting merely to antagonize or attempt to destroy the Church.

    Keep posting the good works.

    1. Long and complicated issues revolve around vesture etc. Pope Paul VI simplified a lot of things back in 1970 but the full word has not gotten out, nor is it always clear who can wear what, when. Things get especially complicated when the Traditional Latin Mass is involved since some argue that older norms, at least some, can be observed in liturgy. Any way, for me, when I have a doubt that I can wear something indicating rank, I don’t wear it. It is better to have some one say, come up higher than to be asked to make room for another or to be “dressed down” 🙂

  32. I have a theory that (i) the internet/social media enables people to post their thoughts (or, if they qualify as such, “opinions”) on topics that they know little about and (ii) the ability to do so anonymously removes all barriers to self-editing.

    This is neither good nor bad in and of itself. But, inane and hurtful as many comments can be, it is better than the alternative at the other end of the spectrum – censorship. (I know you weren’t making that comparison, Msgr.)

  33. I love the title of this post! Thank you for offering some perspective on posting. I decided I will try to be more charitable myself after I misread the word “pom” several times. While I have no objection to a pom, I was a little concerned about the presence of “porn” on a hat, even if a Monsignor did give it to you. I’m glad I adjusted the font on my computer before firing off a comment. Bless you.

  34. Msgr. Pope,

    While it is very unfortunate that you were subject to harsh and misguided comments on your celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, I think many people are concerned that the same, deliberate subversion of the rubrics that we see all too often in the Novus Ordo will seep into the Traditional Latin Mass. That is certainly not the case with you and every priest will make honest mistakes (for the record, the monthly High Mass you offer is consistently outstanding in its beauty).

    On the larger issue of Catholics attacking each other, this isn’t new and making rude comments about a bad bishop is quite mild compared to what has happened in the past (when they were sometimes killed by an angry mob of orthodox Catholics). I’m not concerned about Catholics who engage each other in heated debates about rubrics, for example, as much as I am about those who stopped caring about the Church entirely or deliberately seek to undermine the Church’s teachings (by promoting female priests or abortion for example).

  35. Dear Msgr. Pope-

    I’ve been helped much by your postings, but frankly the “blog” concept frightens me somewhat. Although you moderate the blog I often hesitate for fear I should write something that’s theologically incorrect, or otherwise unhelpful to another reader. My own personal preference is that this would change from being a blog to being a meditation- with you taking questions “in the background” that you might choose to answer in another meditation. The topics change so quickly that by the time I have thought and prayed about what you said it is often several days later and the blog has moved on.

    Praying for you and thanking in you for all you do- Jean

    Insulted, slammed, and mocked about where Lost at Sea is about the shroud that Peter finds. From here, the accelerator mass spectrometer is named to meter the heavier mass of the C-14 atoms in this spectrum (C-12 + C-13 + C-14) accelerated thru this magnetic field to smack this instrument head square in the face in the Oxford, Arizona, and Zurich lab with 12% more C-14 than in the tree his heel is nailed to. The lighter atoms (C-12 + C-13) are deflected out of this magnetic field to miss this instrument flat head in the lab! Why do they think this instrument head meters a year and to this point: This ancient body that rose to transform the mass of it’s body into light (sun) reveals the accelerator mass spectrometer meters in the “half-life spectrum before Christ a 1262 radiocarbon dating error 666 decades BC where 50% C-14 is lost in this spectrum before Christ where it takes 5568 years to decay!

  37. Dear Msgr.,

    I don’t care what ANYONE says – I love you!!! I so look forward to each of your articles and have printed many of them to share with friends. Before becoming an RCIA catechist, I had a deep sense that our own Catholics needed catechesis. I couldn’t understand how we could expect to draw people into the Catholic Church if our own people didn’t know their Faith.

    It used to be that we were catechized from the pulpit (certainly not the only source of catechesis but the BEST source). However, in the last 40+ years it seems that everything that came from the pulpit had to be PC (and I DON’T mean a computer). 🙂

    It is wonderful to hear from priests, like yourself, who are not afraid to teach the truths of the Faith.

    May God continue to bless you and His children through you,
    South Carolina

  38. Dear Msgr Pope – perhaps it’s the heat wave which has made many grumpier; or perhaps we’re all being tested. I know that I have been given a lot of things to help me become impatient recently and I’m becoming aware of that now. Praise God for afternoon thunderstorms and soft rains after such a hot 2 weeks. Peace to you.,

  39. Thank you for this excellent reminder. It can be easy to forget who reads what is posted on the internet and the widespread affect it can have on the Church as well as the personal affect it can have on those who are being attacked. There are ways to say things and ways to not say things.

  40. I found over a decade ago that all online communication has a greater tendency to be regarded as hostile. With hand-written notes, people often judge the demeanor of the writer by their handwriting – is it sharp? messy? graceful? When I was in school we were told to only type business letters, which were, by nature, “businesslike” with the occasional “crank” letter or thank you note (which, even for business letters, I was taught a thank-you note should be hand-written).

    Many people go to the internet because it is a “free place” they see as having no rules. What I try to tell myself (not always successfully) is that when people are complaining, or cursing, they are often deflecting from the things they are really angry over. People are angry over loosing their jobs, or if they have one, not getting a raise. They see daily images of the privileged elite doing things they only dream of, so they take their frustrations to the net. Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is often seen as a source of bad things (with the newspapers constantly talking about scandals within the church, but never about the great works of Catholic Charities – who recently helped a non-Catholic friend of mine) and so they rail and rant about anything they can.

    Its not just you – and it isn’t your fault. I don’t have a solution for you, but I hope more articles like this one will help.


  41. Dear Msgr. Pope,
    I have become a daily reader in the last 6 months thanks to the New Advent that I get in my email everyday. I have learned so much about God and some not so nice things about myself. Thank You!
    I have never commented on a blog before, but I agree with everything you have said. It gets very wicked in comment spots. It seems that Screwtape is hard at work within the church and probably enjoying it, while Jesus weeps.
    Please keep up the great job! We need good preaching which is not always easy to find as you have mentioned. We are thirsting for the truth.

  42. People who put Jesus between themselves and the other people they meet, confront or write to/about have no choice but to be kind and loving.

  43. People should not come to a hard and fast opinion on someone who may be new at offering the Traditional Latin Mass….Yes, give the Priest some breathing space so to speak. That person should have been paying attention to Christ in the Mass, not the Priest, as the Priest is in fact acting “in Persona Christi”, therefore, it is Christ being judged all over again. I hope that you have worked out the kinks in the ruberics by now. Christ is present regardless of honest mistakes. Pax!

Comments are closed.