Mugging by Catholic bloggers
Now and then various Church officials complain about deeply uncharitable and harmful discussions on some Catholic blogs. Facebook, blogs, Twitter and even email can each far too easily allow angry thoughts that cross people’s minds to be published for all the world to see without the sober second thought that would naturally accompany face-to-face or spoken communication.
There was a recent attack against LifeSiteNews from a very well known Catholic writer and another such writer and her husband. Using these means of unfiltered near-instant communications, they poured calumny and invective on LifeSiteNews and our talented and committed staff.
Critics who obviously know very little about us, how we function, and our editorial decision-making penned very harsh judgments about our motives and other aspects of our work.
Here are just a few samples of what was what posted on the Facebook pages of various well-known and prolific Catholic writers:
- “Two sentences that make me turn on my bullshit detector: ones that start, ‘Guess what Pope Francis just did?’ and ones that start, ‘According to LifeSiteNews . . . ‘”
- “lying assholes who attack the Church”
- “lazy, biased, and stupid reporting”
- “no respect for LSN as a whole”
- “an organization with a bad reputation”
- “no news sense and no conscience”
- hang your “head in shame for attempting to bring division in the Church through inaccurate and dishonest reporting”
- “anti-Catholic bias”
- “They have a distorted view of reality, and no conscience when it comes to reporting lies in order to advance the agenda.”
- “sleazier than the National Enquirer”
- “They don't actually do any reporting. They rewrite a lot of other people's reporting without checking facts or giving attribution.”
- “The narcissism and pride is epic.”
Criticism naturally comes with the territory of journalism and should always be expected. However, when this kind of crude assault is hurled so recklessly from fellow Catholics or other Christians, it does leave us unsettled. Moreover, when such vile language and character assassination comes from Catholics who are published at influential Catholic publications, it is also a concern for the writers’ own Catholic reputation and that of their employers.
LifeSiteNews does not claim to be a Catholic organization. We have many good and faithful Catholics on staff, but we do not claim to be a Catholic organization and our reporting is intended for people of all faiths and even no faith.
Nothing written by LifeSiteNews ever remotely approaches the level of calumny in the condemnations and criticisms seen in the Facebook posts mentioned. We explicitly forbid our writers from making such comments and are constantly removing similar comments from readers commenting under our reports. That is not free speech. We consider it to be an abuse of freedom. We also have a policy of never responding in kind to such comments.
However, a natural response is: “Where is the Christianity in any of these comments?” It boggles the mind that anyone would publicly exhibit such a total lack of charity for all the world to see and think that they are thus exhibiting love of God or properly defending the Church or Pope Francis.
We often encourage our readers to be very respectful in any communications they make in response to our reports. We recognize that condemnatory, hostile, and disrespectful communications will always cause harm and hardly ever help advance the cause of life and family.
Why the scandal of such ad-hominem attacks are permitted by well-known Catholic websites is a puzzle. LifeSiteNews is only one of many victims who have been targeted and at times harmed by these all-too-frequent, very uncharitable, and careless blog postings over the years.
Productive dialogue is impossible without mutual respect. Still, we never close the door to future communications if circumstances change. Many of us on the LifeSiteNews team have gone through major life conversions, so we understand the importance of forgiveness and charity.
One of our team did attempt to reach out and dialogue. Unfortunately, all attempts to respond to the criticism charitably, humbly, and privately, resulted in further, public attacks against the professionalism and integrity of LifeSiteNews, and on the personal character of LifeSiteNews personnel.
At LifeSiteNews we welcome feedback and reasoned, respectful criticism. When readers feel we are not doing the job, or are not doing it well, we take it seriously. We try to respond with charity, humility, and clarity.
The feedback we’ve received over the years has varied wildly from being told we are “doing the work of Satan” to the more usual one that we are doing God’s work. We‘ve been told more times than we can count, in emails and personal encounters with readers, that our reports are among the most reliable, trustworthy, and professionally written on the Internet on the issues that we cover. That is truly our aim. We pray and work every day to arrive at that lofty goal. And with your support, your prayers, and your constructive advice, I’m sure we can maintain our current high level of reporting while always striving to improve it even more.