Relations between Catholic bloggers and Church officials have at times been quite strained as the new media has developed in the last couple years. Some prelates, clergy, and chancery officials have expressed strong reservations about the Catholic blogosphere, with some even speaking quite derogatorily.
Church leaders have been angered by the penchant of many bloggers to call them out on their failures to expound and defend controversial Catholic teachings on moral issues like contraception, homosexuality, and abortion.
The difficulties got to the point that last year the Vatican convened a special conference for bloggers to try to build bridges and learn more about this new method for advancing the Gospel.
But now even the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is saying Catholic bloggers have a “critical role” in defending the Church.
In a new statement on religious freedom released today they write:
The Catholic Church in America is blessed with an immense number of writers, producers, artists, publishers, filmmakers, and bloggers employing all the means of communications—both old and new media—to expound and teach the faith. They too have a critical role in this great struggle for religious liberty. We call upon them to use their skills and talents in defense of our first freedom. (Source)
I’m all for co-operation on a case-by-case basis. Religious liberty is a no-brainer. The question is not Blogger orthodoxy, but rather how serious the Bishops are about fighting Obama. Is it all just talk or are they going to call Obama’s Bluff and shut down the hospitals? Bloggers are willing to mix it up with the culture, and co-operate with the leadership of the U.S. Bishops, if they’re not just blowing smoke. God help them if they yank the carpet from our feet and don’t follow through, though, once they start the train rolling.
Just a little warning to my fellow bloggers: don’t get too cozy with the Bishops or else you lose your relevance and moral authority. Co-operation is on a “contract”, case-by-case basis. The Catholic world has shifted because of the Catholic Blogosphere and Catholic New Media and that’s no embelishment, either. We need to circle the wagons when the necessity arises, but we need to break up the wagons when the Bishops aren’t doing their jobs.
There’s no blogger blank cheque for the bishops. There’s a very low limit on the credit card that they should be permitted to draw from.
Let’s not forget who put us in this mess, in the first place.