Sunday, January 13, 2008

Cardinal seeks to silence journalist

While history tells of kings who desperately wished to be rid of meddlesome priests, Cranmer has learned of a priest who wishes to be rid of a rather meddlesome journalist. Attempts are being made to silence Damian Thompson, Editor-in-Chief of The Catholic Herald and commentator for The Daily Telegraph on his Holy Smoke blog. Apparently, Mr Thompson is to be silenced in order that he can no longer criticise ‘the hierarchy, Eccleston Square, inaction on the Motu Proprio, Church bureaucracy, or make suggestions on Cormac's successor, or criticise the dreadful Tablet’.

As may be gleaned from Mr Thompson’s latest book – Counterknowledge – he is not too keen on conspiracies, and yet according to Father Ray Blake of St Mary Magdalene Church in Brighton, the hierarchy is indeed conspiring to silence Mr Thompson. If private words are being had and secret meetings are being held between Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the Papal Nuncio, the Barclay brothers (who are Roman Catholic), the owner and chairman of the Catholic Herald and the editors of two national newspapers, Mr Thompson would do well to re-appraise his aversion to the phenomenon.

The principal contention is that Damian Thompson is using his position(s) to undermine the authority of the Cardinal and other bishops who are not fully supportive of the direction in which Pope Benedict XVI is leading his church – in particular on his decision to reintroduce the Latin Mass – the Extraordinary Rite – and his more than direct challenge the ‘liberal’ consensus which has permeated since Vatican II.

Mr Thompson – whom The Church Times once called a ‘blood-crazed ferret’ (an insult which he appears to sport with pride) - is simply being loyal to his Holy Father. He wants proper liturgy and a Catholic theology which resonates with history, and it is his considered opinion that the English hierarchy are obstructing the Pope at every turn. And by injecting a little democracy into the theocracy, he is accused of dabbling with Protestantism (i.e., supping with the Devil) and derided for doing so. He has not quite nailed his 95 theses to the door of Westminster Cathedral, but he has done the internet virtual equivalent.

The Catholic Herald is invariably forthright in its views (readers of The Tablet may put it less politely) and, as Fr Blake observes, Damian Thompson ‘can be outrageous at times’, but that is indeed the function of a journalist in a free, open and democratic society. It is unacceptably manipulative of the Cardinal to try to gag The Catholic Herald and treat The Tablet as though it were the ‘tolerant’ and ‘enlightened’ voice of ‘authentic Catholicism’ in England, and attempts to do so confirm the suspicion that there is an undeniable epistemic distance between the hierarchy and laity.

For many, The Catholic Herald is the church’s Daily Telegraph: it is real, traditional theological meat. But The Tablet is the voice of the Guardianistas: it is nothing more than diluted milk; insipid, obsessed with 60’s hippy compromises and the trendy innovations of Vatican II. Cranmer finds these positions as mutually exclusive as many frequently accuse the Church of England of possessing, yet the Church of England genuinely attempts to be as broad as the Roman Catholic Church attempts to be catholic. But one thing is certain: the Archbishop of Canterbury has never sought to silence his journalistic critics (and they are legion), and neither has he attempted to gag the free press.

The accusations being levelled against Mr Thompson include all the usual labels which are invariably hurled when Christians disagree: thus he is being ‘un-Christian’, ‘hurtful’, ‘uncharitable’, ‘insensitive’, ‘intolerant’, ‘bigoted’ and so on. But such terms are the last refuge of the ignorant; those who possess neither the emotional strength nor the intellectual capacity to conduct an argument by rational and reasonable means, and so they close it down, resolving nothing, thereby further dividing the already fragmented and imperfect communion.

Whether Damian Thompson is a ‘blood-crazed’, self-obsessed, self-appointed defender of Catholic orthodoxy, or an intelligent and enlightened commentator with conviction and integrity, Cranmer would like to remind the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster that this is England in the 21st century, not Spain of the 16th, and Damian Thompson has every right to comment freely without interference from either Church or the State. And if the owners or editors of national newspapers succumb to such bullying, then that is newsworthy in itself, and Cranmer fully expects The Catholic Herald, The Daily Telegraph, The Guardian, the BBC and The Sun to take the matter up vehemently and vociferously.

Failing that, Father Ray appears to be a useful and reliable source of intelligence, despite his rather dim and patronising view of Protestants.


Anonymous Bob said...

Failing that, Father Ray appears to be a useful and reliable source of intelligence, despite his rather dim and patronising view of Protestants.

The words "pot," "kettle" and "black" came rushing to my mind when I read this. :)

13 January 2008 at 10:52  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

His Grace has never described Roman Catholics as being 'poor, unfortunate, half-educated', as Fr Ray describes Protestants.

He has rather more discernment than to judge all Roman Catholics by the theological standards of The Tablet.

13 January 2008 at 11:11  
Anonymous Bob said...

No you never have described them as poor, unfortunate or half educated, but nonetheless I don't think it would be inaccurate to say that you have, on occasion, expressed a dim view of Catholicism, and comments which might be deemed by Catholics as patronising, which was the source of my comment.

13 January 2008 at 11:28  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Bob,

The '-ism' should indeed be subject to scrutiny, as should all such, which you may interpret as patronising, but is never intended so. Yet to accuse His Grace of ad hominem attacks or prejudice against an entire faith group is not supported by any of His Grace's writings, for it is simply not his belief.

Father Ray, however, has taken an evident, and some would say 'bigoted', swipe against all Protestants. That is plainly contrary to reason, not least because Damian Thompson is manifesting the precise spirit of discontent that led to the Reformation; indeed, he has used that very word and called for reformation, notwithstanding that it is the English sysytem he seeks to overhaul, and not that of Rome. But where does one logically stop?

By demanding democracy in the appointment of the next Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster, why not open the appointment of the next pope to all baptised Roman Catholics?

13 January 2008 at 12:28  
Blogger Unsworth said...

Your Grace,

Let us be clear. No church or religion has ever been 'democratic'. And as for newspapers - nor have they.

It is unwise to view the activities of newspapers or journals as pursuits of the truth. That is not their task or intention which is, in fact, to survive and prosper.

And perhaps the same could be said of organised religions, too.

13 January 2008 at 12:39  
Anonymous oiznop said...

Damian Thompson isn't worth your prestigious defence. He is an arrogant t**t with zero people skills and zero personality. He rubs everybody up the wrong way and just thinks he's important because the 'traditionalists' tell him he is. He's also a hypocrite. It's one thing to support the Pope by constantly criticising CMOC, but if CMOC was Pope, where would Thompson's loyalties then lie? He demands submission to authority, but ultimately there is no authority higher than his. He should be sacked from The Telegraph because I can't understand why he's allowed to take a daily national newspaper down the obsessively Roman Catholic route. The paper does have reasders of other faiths, or doesn't the editor realise that?

13 January 2008 at 12:47  
Anonymous bob said...

To be clear I did not accuse you of an ad hominem attack. At no point did I state that you were insulting to Catholics. My point was that throughout you blog you have had a dim view of Catholics and Catholicism, and at times you views have been viewed as patronising by Catholics. I did not state that you mirrored the views of Fr Blake in regard to Catholics. If you have interpreted my remarks in that manner then I regret that, but it was not my intention.

13 January 2008 at 12:55  
Blogger AethelBald, King of Wessex said...

When I read the blog entry that His Grace kindly links to then I wonder what Mr Thompson thinks he is doing. The RC church is an authoritarian organisation. That's its greatest strength, and surely part of its appeal to persons who, whatever other failings they may have, are not short of intellect or will or the ability to thinkfor themselves, e.g. [expetive deleted] Tony Blair.

13 January 2008 at 13:24  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

patronising prorestants???


patronising is too good for them; now in my day.....

13 January 2008 at 13:59  
Anonymous miss jellybean said...

Bob, Cranmer takes a 'dim view' of most religions, especially Islam(ism). And to be fair he takes a 'dim view' of Rowan Williams and the goings on in the church of England too. I don't think he's criticised sikhs or hindus, so maybe he's a secret admirer. He's probably a buddhist.

I don't agree that he takes a 'dim view' of people of any religion though. I've always felt welcomed by him, but not by some who write on here!

13 January 2008 at 14:05  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

'The words "pot," "kettle" and "black" came rushing to my mind' - whoever can write this is probably incapable of independent thought. He'll be talking of "intruding on private grief" or "shuffling deckchairs on the Titanic" next.
Cranmer, it is admirable and right to stick up for Thompson, especially as he has been unpleasant about you. There is of course an inconsistency in Thompson's view of authority, just as there is in the Cardinal's - that will always be so in a totalitarian system; and it is precisely such a system that needs lively argument, such as Thompson provokes.

13 January 2008 at 14:16  
Anonymous nedsherry said...

...or criticise the dreadful Tablet

It's improved since I last saw it, then?

For many, The Catholic Herald is the church’s Daily Telegraph...

It's not that bad. The DT used to be a good paper, but it's been neo-conned like the Spectator.

Cranmer would like to remind the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster that this is England in the 21st century, not Spain of the 16th...

Yes, England in the 21st, which is why both the C of E and the left-footers are sliding rapidly into oblivion. They are both infected with liberalism and both doomed unless they rid themselves of it.

13 January 2008 at 14:46  
Anonymous Patrick Hamilton said...

Doesn't Mary Tudor know it wasn't just in her day that autos da fe were in vogue. Her Father (Henry VIII) and her cousin (James V)were just as bad.
Look what happened to me on February 29th, 1528.I know I know James just blamed it on Beaton

Though this Father Ray in Brighton if his photo is anything to go by looks more like Father Jack to me

13 January 2008 at 15:50  
Anonymous athanasius said...

Fr Ray is indeed a good surce of intelligence. The first Mass at Westminster Abbey since the early years of Elizabeth I was noted here.

13 January 2008 at 16:33  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

Patrick Hamilton said...
Doesn't Mary Tudor know it wasn't just in her day that autos da fe were in vogue. Her Father (Henry VIII) and her cousin (James V)were just as bad.
Look what happened to me on February 29th, 1528.

Oh stop complaining....

You got lots of good PR out of it. And I blame that git Knox on your sort.

13 January 2008 at 16:43  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

whilst not of the RC credo i really dont understand them at the , at a time in the world when the light of christianity is need most in this country , we end up wondering if we have a jesuit problem again .

its like staging celebrity death match during an earthquake.

i thank pope bendict for his guidence and his words , and rowan williams for his theology .

but for goodness sake , the planets near dying , kids are getting shot and stabbed , mps are corrupting the way of life , christianity is under threat from eqaulity,multiculturalism, marxism and islam .

we need christianity and the family unit, the schools , the discipline .

if we have a dysfunctional parliment and a dysfunctional goverment , god help us if god representatives are going the same way

13 January 2008 at 16:45  
Anonymous Patrick Hamilton said...

For Mary Tudor's education(13/1:16.43), you're getting me confused with George Wishart.

The Priest of Haddington (Rev John Knox)was born in 1510 and was a student at St.Andrews at the time. He probably was a witness to my burning-though knowing your views, you'll only comment that St.Andrews is cold at the best of times, never mind February so a good burning did me no harm.-and you'll still fail your exams, if you stand on the spot where I was burned

And by the way Mary, Cardinal David Beaton had certainly no time for you,fellow papists though you were.

13 January 2008 at 18:50  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

patrick hamilton...

1. you were both (you and Wishart) insolent fellows

2, burning at the stake never did anyone any harm as you will now have discovered - very cleansing for the soul :D

3. Knox is still a git

4. I've done quite enough exams for one lifetime already so not bothered about silly local superstition

pax tecum :D

13 January 2008 at 19:38  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

And by the way Patrick, Cardinal David Beaton was no better than he should have been - illegitimate daughter! Tut!

13 January 2008 at 19:39  
Anonymous Patrick Hamilton said...

I never thought I'd say this but I really am grateful to Beaton. He resisted Henry's VIII's plan to marry you off to your cousin, James V.

But for that we would have related. Next time I see Beaton's ghost on the fairways of the Old Course, I'll thank him for that

By the way, Friend Knox was a Calvinist, I was a Lutheran. Trouble is nowadays with this thing called comprehensive education, most youngsters think Luther was the villian in Superman

13 January 2008 at 21:16  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

Athanasius: Fr Ray was not so irritating or patronizing as to call it the "first Mass", whatever he may have thought.

13 January 2008 at 21:28  
Anonymous Patrick Hamilton said...

Mary Tudor,
As I signed off, it struck me we may be related anyway. My maternal grand-father's and also my paternal grandmother's grand-nephew (James IV) married your father's sister (Margaret Tudor)

13 January 2008 at 21:37  
Anonymous Cardinal Fang said...

Looks as though Mr Thompson is due for a session in..

The Comfy Chair!

13 January 2008 at 22:49  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

patrick hamilton said...

By the way, Friend Knox was a Calvinist, I was a Lutheran.

I knew that! :D Also knew Knox nearly became Bishop of Rochester under Edward VI and thus would have been predecessor of Yosser Nazir-Ali

nighty night cuz...

13 January 2008 at 23:16  
Anonymous Patrick Hamilton said...

I seem to be subject of identity theft

14 January 2008 at 01:11  
Anonymous The Recusant said...

It may be understood that the reformation of which you speak Your Grace happened with Vatican 2; Mr Thompson is not therefore looking for Reformation but Counter Reformation. So you see history repeats itself, what Mr Thompson is afraid of is that the heresy and error that proceeded from that disastrous experiment should not twice visit this Dowry of Mary.

14 January 2008 at 08:06  
Anonymous mary tudor said...

Patrick Hamilton said...
I seem to be subject of identity theft

who has been impersonating your toastedness?

cruel and unusual punishments can be arranged...

14 January 2008 at 09:53  
Blogger Gillibrand said...

Cranmer defends Catholic! Surely not the same Cranmer who "was consecrated Archbishop of Canterbury in 1533. In the presence of witnesses, he declared that the oath of obedience to the pope which he had to take was only a matter of form which would bind him to nothing against the king's interest." Papal obedience as a matter of form- you could even be a modern English Catholic bishop!

14 January 2008 at 13:48  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older