Rorate Caeli

Alternative Catholic Media: Into the Catacombs

In Rorate, our team is privileged to include members who can write under their own names, and others who must resort to noms de plume... We get along quite well in our different capabilities. We all work in this in a spirit of complete voluntary work - how often have we rejected in the past several offers of advertisers!

Just this week, in a personal conversation with a fellow contributor, there was mention that this blog should not even exist. Despair not! What was meant was simply that, not many decades ago, in the moldy and unenlightened years before the glorious Council of the 1960s, the local diocesan paper or a similar periodical publication published by a religious order would have provided more than enough news for the average Catholic. For the learned Catholic priest and layman, academic or semi-academic journals would have sufficed for their needs. For many good and faithful Catholics with no access to the written word, or in the centuries before mass media organizations, the local priest's sermons or communications from the pulpit would have provided enough nourishment of Catholic news.

It is the general untrustworthiness of much of the official Catholic media and printing houses that has made blogs so popular. This is especially true regarding the obvious cognitive dissonance any serious Catholic feels between the placidity and jolliness of the official media, and the reality seen on the ground, from the abuse of children to the abuse of sacraments, from the abuse of liturgy to the abuse of confidence, from the promotion of dissidents to the hiding of the statistics of the general collapse of Catholic demographics and practice in most of the world since this wintriest of springtimes began.

What the events involving the Rev. Deacon N. Donnelly and his blog Protect the Pope show (the blog was founded, as the name indicates, precisely to protect the good fame and name of the Pope at the time of its foundation, Benedict XVI, who was under permanent attack throughout his pontificate, including in the official Catholic media, and is now unable to continue its operation) is that the use of pseudonyms is increasingly necessary for many Catholic bloggers, as many good Catholics consider they can only do this necessary work under the utmost discretion. 

We once again humbly beg the good people in Lancaster Diocese to please explain why pressure was applied in such a way that even Mrs. Donnelly felt unable to continue writing on her husband's behalf (not with indiscreet details, of course, but since the web makes this a worldwide affair, the absence of a diocesan statement makes it worse). We rush to add that it seems that the diocese of Lancaster is not unfriendly towards traditional-minded Catholics (remember this), so this matter is not at all tradition-related, just one that would require more openness about its causes since it indeed became a public global scandal through no fault of the parties involved.


For further opinion on the matter of pseudonymous blogging we suggest the following 2011 text by Fr. Ryan Erlenbush, "In defense of pseudonymous blogging." On the specific matter of Deacon Donnelly, we have nothing to add to our March editorial The Sound of Silence.

Prayers offered for the Rt. Rev. Bishop of Lancaster and the Rev. Deacon and Mrs. Donnelly.

Update (5:10 PM GMT): The Diocese of Lancaster published a statement on the matter by the local Ordinary.

Also worthy of notice: This 2010 article on anonymous Catholic Blogging by Unam Sanctam Catholicam.