Saturday, 2 June 2012

Cath News must be destroyed

Earlier this week someone wrote to me offline saying I should abandon my campaign to reform Cath News because it was irreformable, short of Ms Christine Hogan, its publisher, leaving or being forced to leave.

I wrote back saying I saw some hope, as I did think they were trying, and I thought many of Ms Hogan's curious polices reflected ignorance of the faith rather than necessarily deliberate rejection of it.

I've changed my mind.  Cath News must be destroyed!

As a number of readers have pointed out to me offline, I stopped posting on them for a day or two, and instantly they've reverted to form over there!

Speak and thou shalt be rejected!

Ms Hogan offers, over at Cath Blog today, a response to my campaign.  Fair enough, she has the right to speak up.  But in the process, she does confirm a number of my claims.

In particular, if Ms Hogan decides that you are rude, criticize a bishop, criticize a sister for not wearing a habit , or display "a sense of entitlement" (what on earth does that  mean?!) you will have your comment rejected.

But there is another category of people who automatically get rejected over there - anyone who posts here!  She writes:

"When I became aware of the write-in campaign, I made the decision as the Publisher not to lend the credibility of CathNews to this grandstanding hectoring, and have since deleted comments from those people without reading them. (How do I know who was part of the campaign? It was not rocket science – I just had to read comments on the inciting blogspot.)"

Well yes, I did stop asking people to publish their comment here if it was rejected over there for just this reason.  But I didn't expect Ms Hogan to actually publicly admit it! 

So anyone who posts here (and remember I only asked people to publish anything that Cath News wouldn't publish so we could scrutinize whether the reasons claimed for rejection really matched up with reality) is automatically disenfranchised. 

I'm guessing that those who posted over at the Country Priest's blog are likewise on the banned list.

Well, I guess that's one way of excluding all the orthodox commenters from Cath News...

Never heard of Michael Voris!

Ms Hogan says no one at Cath News has ever heard of Michael Voris before now!

Given the controversy he regularly creates in the US blogs and beyond, I find that kind of surprising, but kind of not!  If the only American sources you read are America magazine and NCR, you will tend to get a limited view of the world.

Ms Hogan's other argument for not including Michael Voris over at Cath News is that apparently Cath News is not allowed to run a piece from a single source. Really?

I'm assuming we are talking about opinion pieces here.

But how then to explain all those pieces from group blogs like Eureka Street and other such pretty singular looking sources?

In fact Voris' 'Vortex' videos can be found on any number of good third party sites (and for any Catholic news aggregation site, a daily look at places like Pewsitter would go a long way to rounding out Cath News' rather narrow casting of opinion piece and other news sources).

But hey, why let the facts get in the way of the Cath News agenda.

Rejected posts from Cath News

She goes on to report her offline bullying of someone who commented over here about having a blog post rejected.

That is truly disappointing.

The poster in question made a minor, and understandable, error of fact - he said he had one blog piece published and a second never appeared.

In fact he had two published; it was the third that was rejected over there.

Ms Hogan could have published a polite correction on my blog.

Instead she sent him what I consider to be a bullying email.

He, not unnaturally, in the face of her onslaught (read the Cath News post to get a bit of the flavour) was extremely contrite, publicly apologized and removed the comments from my blog.  Yet she reports the whole affair anyway. 

That is not, in my view, a Christian response!

Worse, she published the comment that he in fact withdrew from my blog.

Then she actually went a step further, and published his private offline correspondence with her, despite the fact that the email string was explicitly marked 'not for publication'! 

In praise of the liturgy!

And just why was the blog post in question rejected?

The author of the piece speculated in his (withdrawn) comment on my blog that it may have been  because of his reference to orthodox (Latin) liturgy. 

Ms Hogan claims it was because another blogger covered the same ground.

I've read the rejected blog post in question (as Ms Hogan kindly gave it to me with a view to publication and the author also provided it to me). 

And I've reread all of the blog posts from Madrid, including all those by the author Ms Hogan pointed me to (who, by the way, was not one of the bloggers explicitly invited by Cath News to post on Madrid).

I couldn't see the overlap. 

To the extent that the same events were alluded to, it was a very brief mention indeed (indeed, so brief that...).  And each of the accounts was highly personalized.  Moreover, this - rejected - blog post was the only one I found that talked in praise of the Latin liturgy.

But you can judge for yourself, because I'm posting it here today, so herewith the long missing Madrid blog post by David Busher (published with permission of the author).

Madrid, WYD 2011: A guest post by David Bucher

Again I have to say... ¡Viva Spain! Never have I experienced such a mix and mash of emotions.. From ecstatic happiness all the way through the (emotional) spectrum to crushing defeat. It's been an extremely busy, but amazing day in Madrid today, the Pope's official arrival being the event to be at. I was full of memories this morning of WYD Sydney when Pope Benedict XVI at the bow of a massive ship sailed into Sydney Harbour. That day was spectacular in 2008 and we were gearing up for a similar, if not better repeat of then.

Before the excitement of the afternoon, there was the fulfilling task of attending the Catechesis sessions. This involves an uplifting talk from a bishop or above. Today we had an Archbishop from America speak (with an accent I didn't get used to...) And yesterday we has the pleasure of hearing from Australia's very own Cardinal George Pell!!

The venue for the Catechesis was a revamped, 12,000 seat basketball stadium which is also mainly functioning as the English speaking pilgrim's domain. There are various speakers from all over the world meeting here to discuss every topic under the sun, it's an amazing venue to be at, and the only air conditioned venue of it's size in the city!! (we're very spoilt!!)). The morning ended with an amazing Mass celebrated by over 200 priests! From our seat, at the very back of the stadium I could just make out the short figure of Whitfords parish priest Father Joseph, almost right at the front of the procession!

The mass was breathtaking, the choir chanted in a way I had never heard in person. The Latin chants gave a royal/regal feel to the Mass (regardless of the fact we were in a repurposed stadium). Those reading will the the first (and only) people to know that I literally shed a tears when the Bishops, two-by-two venerated the altar. An overwhelming feeling came over me and a statement appeared that I couldn't get out of my head: "This is the beauty of Catholicism."

My pilgrim companions and I left Palacio de Deportes (aka. The Stadium) at about 4pm. Benedict was only three hours away and we wanted to stake out a good bit of space to relax in before the hoards of people arrived. After a half hour walk we spent the afternoon in a nice shady spot right next to the Puerto de Alcalà playing card games with two energetic youths from Germany.

Pope Benedict arrived not long after 7.30 and what crushing disappointment I felt! As the vehicle turned the roundabout the hundreds of pilgrims that surrounded me rushed forward... People jumped on shoulders, they were standing on chairs, I was left at the very back, jumping up and down to try and see the influential man that everyone was joyously screaming for.

I slumped back onto the hard concrete pavement, overwhelmed with regret... "What if I had got here earlier?..." and "What if we had walked around to the plaza? We had a great view of everything there at the mass only two days ago...". Were just two of the thoughts running through my mind. It didn't take me long to remember and notice all the happy faces at the event and just exactly how silly I was being. World Youth Day isn't about briefly seeing the Pope, maybe taking a photo of him from 100 meters away. It's a journey of discovering and committing to a stronger, more personal relationship with God. (Knowing that there has to be sacrifice somewhere along the track) So I sat up straight on the hard concrete and started praying: "For the Pope, Lord God, may he be firm in his faith and in doing your will."

There is such a strong presence of God here in Madrid. Everywhere you look people are discovering God or having their prayers answered. My prayer was answered not long after the Holy Father finished his liturgy. We had left a bit early and were making our way up a rather central, yet rather empty road when suddenly we hear the noise of police sirens. Turning around, I saw sometime that I will lock away as one of my favorite memories ever! A motorcade with the Pope right in the centre driving right towards our small group of five. As he quickly drove past we screamed and shouted and took as many photos as we could of the humble, huge-hearted man in his funny shaped pope-mobile.

We're half way through WYD week now with only days until the biggest event of my life, the Saturday night sleep out: almost 2 million anticipated to attend. I ask you that you continue to pray for all the MadridBlog pilgrims, but especially today for Pope Benedict. In his brief homily today he spoke of the fear he felt when he took up the role of Pope. A fear I imagine he still carries with him today. He reached out to us individually to pray for him daily, as it is only through this that he is able to do the amazing job he does.

David tells me he wrote this piece in the dark, around midnight, with 90 other people around him sleeping.

Glad to help this wonderfully vivid evocation of WYD 2011 finally see the light of day...


A Canberra Observer said...

I don't know what to think about all this.

It is all very depressing.

I am now tempted to the view that CathNews is not the problem but simply a barometer of the state of the Church, or at least its members, in Australia. It suggests to me that the members of the Church in Australia are comprised of a mishmash of conflicting beliefs, many of which either explicitly or subconsciously represent or will lead to embracing of heterodoxy (underpinned by secular mores) and abondonment of key tenets of the faith, Divine Revelation being one of them.

I am not surprised at CathNews reaction to the campaign.

I don't like it but maybe it suggests some lessons for strategy and tactics in the future. Frontal assault clearly won't work. And the frustration one feels at both the content agenda and the comments published can tempt one to intemperate comments which is ultimately counterproductive. If one were completely cynical one might posit that CathNews is happy to set up that frustration 'trap'.

I am still bemused that no critique is apparently allowed of bishops - the 'content' selection and many of the comments from those advocating reform of the protestant or inclusive flavour don't seem to have much trouble getting comments published that to me at least can be read as critical in the same way but just coming from the other direction.

And what of the bishops - I am left back where I started this comment and the almost inescapable conclusion that the bishops of Australia consider CathNews is doing what they think it should be doing. I hope I am actually wrong but the data don't seem to support that. In that sense, I also doubt it is all about Christine Hogan - she's doing a job which someone must be approving of.

A Canberra Observer said...


I am also sorry that you have now borne the brunt of things.

I remain of the view, pretty much as you, that CathNews selection of 'content' pushes, wittingly or not, views which erode or obscure Church teaching and damage trust in the Church leadership.

Kate Edwards said...

Sadly, I suspect you are right about Cath News being a reflection of the state of the Church in Australia Canberra Observer - when even Cardinal Pell won't stand up on some of these issues, what hope is there?

Nonetheless, I think this still has some way to play out, so please do keep praying and sharing your experiences with CN here, on or offline.

Actually I think the bigger impact is on those people who commented over there and took up my call to expose what what was happening over at Cath News by publishing their comments here, and I'm sorry for that.

But I'm hoping that people are readng and reflecting hard on what is going on in this affair, and right will ultimately prevail....

Perhaps the next step should be a rosary crusade?

Martin S. said...

Began the 'liberate Catholic Communications/destroy CathNews/confound your enemies' Rosary crusade today.

Maybe the people at CathNews (though I know they're not Catholic, though funded by us Catholics) could say the Rosary too even just as an experiment? :)

Such a beautiful apologetic to the tutor of Marcus Aurelius (Chapter V and VI) forsaken by our Bishops, who fund non-Catholics to judge what constitutes Australian Catholic news.

Luke S said...

Is part of the problem that there does not seem to be any orthodox Catholic journalism or journalists in Australia, and hence no viable alternative to CathNews?

In my (albeit limited) experience, the big talking points among more involved Catholics have been imported from overseas. A recent example of this is coverage of the contraception mandate in the United States, which dominated online and offline conversations in Australia despite being an American issue. Granted we are the universal Church and we should support our brothers and sisters in the US, but I'm certain that things are happening in the Church in Australia too!

I've found that my only source of genuinely Australian, and genuinely Catholic news has been from Diocesan papers and blogs like your own. While I don't wish to take away anything from Diocesan papers or blogs, surely among non-dissenting Catholics in Australia there are some capable journalists to create an alternative to CathNews?

Martin S. said...

Rod Dreher: Miracles

This link isn't working at the moment for some reason but an excerpt on the power of Our Blessed Mother's intercession. Rod Dreher is one of the most highly respected political commentators in the US, he's here now

"Here's how I learned my lesson about the relative importance of miracles. It involved a miracle.

... I prayed the rosary a lot.

.... When I arrived at the second glorious mystery -- the Ascension, in which Jesus promised to remain with his people forever, even though he was about to ascend bodily into heaven -- the room filled with sunlight (this, on an overcast January day) and the powerful aroma of roses.....

I knew that I'd been given my big sign. But it came after I'd made my decision, and served to confirm that I'd made the right decision. I knew that God was trying to tell me that it was wrong to put Him to the test like that, and to rely on obvious signs. Hadn't the small things that had happened to me in my discernment process been enough? Didn't He give me enough to make that decision through reason? Hadn't it been enough for my parents, after having seen the good I could do through journalism, and my passion for it, to give me their blessing?


Now, you might be thinking that I hallucinated the aroma of roses, . . .But it doesn't account for this one last thing.

After finishing my rosary prayer in the bedroom, I went upstairs to make up beds and straighten up. I heard the front door open and close, and K. come thumping up the stairs. She walked into the room where I was, her eyes huge, her left hand gripping her right arm by the wrist. She held out her right hand, palm up, to me.

"Smell this," she half-whispered.

I did. It smelled powerfully of roses. I asked her if she'd put perfume on it, or washed it in floral soap. No, she said, nothing like that. She said that when she came in, she heard me upstairs and decided to come up and help me. Halfway up the stairs, she rubbed her nose, and discovered this weird rose smell.

"I just had a miracle happen to me with the scent of roses," I told her, breathlesly. "It's the sign of the Virgin Mary. I asked her in my prayers to hold your hand through this tough time for you."

K. and I just stared at each other, astonished. Then her hand didn't smell like roses anymore. Just like that. . .

Chris said...

Christine Hogan has to go! The problem is that while claiming an association with the Australian Catholic Bishop's Conference Cathnews it has a mischevious agenda that is that of Christine Hogan. I think her professional backgrounf makes her unsuitable for the job. On quite a few occassions she has refused posts, deleted them, even emailed. Yes and telephoned. My crime. I pointed out that the life St Mary MacKillop lived is not lived by the modern Sisters of St Joseph. That Vatican II required the living or REGULAR religious life...yes that means habits. No professional MS's living in their own houses with a fluffy dog and parish paid for car! I also posted a CDF excerpt on homosexual unions and yes she removed it.
She is a "junk" theology Catholic who has no memory and no real grasp of what is Catholic and what is not. Her editorail policy in not really Catholic. The way items are posted does damage to the Catholic Faith. It would be better if Cathnews had the courage existed as the independant liberal blog it is rather than hiding behind the bishop's skirts.

Father K said...

From Cathnews must be reformed to [5 posts later all on Cathnews] Cathnews must be destroyed...this is turning into a rant - give it a break

Kate Edwards said...

No Father, I won't be 'giving it a break'.

Each of these posts has, in my view, touched on some important issues of interest beyond the bounds of Cath News reform.

But the campaign to reclaim the Church for orthodoxy has to start somewhere, and I won't be stopped by Ms Hogan's attempt to play the victim card when in reality it is we who are the victims!

Bernie said...

Thanks Kate for your persistence. Cathnews, on balance, is a negative force for the Church.