I live in the diocese of Lancaster, along with +Campell and Deacon Nick. I am no apologist for bishops behaving badly (as a brief look at items tagged 'bishops' in my blog will confirm). However, I think that our Bishop, +Campbell, has been misunderstood, and even misrepresented and defamed by many on the blogosphere over this.
It is all too easy to say that Nick is being closed down because of his orthodoxy: but there is no evidence for that view, unless one has already judged the Bishop to be an enemy of orthodoxy. The technical term for that is prejudice.
In fact, the Bishop makes clear that he had concerns over the tone of Nick's blog, and particularly the combox. He asked Nick to carry on with his good work, but ensure that due charity was observed, as he is an ordained deacon. He believed that was not happening, so asked Nick to pause, reflect and pray. Nick asked him if he could resume, and +Campbell said the period of prayer and reflection was not yet over.
Nick, it seems, then decided to close the blog, and to announce that the Bishop had closed it. Nick also, on Twitter and Facebook, publicised a very large number of hostile commentaries, accusing his bishop of all manner of things: and I think the bishop's impatience with that approach is also discernible in his statement.
I like Nick, and I like his blog: but even his best friend could hardly claim it was completely innocent of the charge of ad hominem attacks and uncharitable comments, particularly in the Combox, for which the blog owner is responsible.
One might disagree with the Bishop's judgement over this, but for myself, I am pleased that a Bishop takes seriously his responsibility for what ordained ministers do and say in his diocese: I only wish many more would do so, with particular reference to heretics and dissenters.
I think this has been compounded by a failure of communication: Nick seems still to be unclear why he was asked to pause; and that clearly does not help.
However, what has helped much less has been the rush to judgement on the bishop by so many, with so much noise; in particular, the misrepresentation in the press and on the blogosphere. It is not difficult to put oneself in the Bishop's shoes and imagine what that must look like.
It should be noted that Bishop Campbell is no liberal time-server. He encourages Confession with his 'The Light is On for You' project; he has invited excellent and orthodox nuns into the University Chaplaincy; he hosts a monthly Traditional Mass in the Cathedral (and continued it when he had a first-class excuse to stop it) and has even invited the Institute of Christ the King (dedicated to the Traditional Mass) to run a large and prestigious Church in Preston.
I personally have been astonished at the unthinking and visceral nature of the attack on Bishop Campbell by so many, including many whose views I normally take seriously, and whom I regard as online friends. I think it is most unhelpful to the cause of orthodox Catholicism to start with the assumption that every Bishop is a liar and an enemy - and in this case, simply not true. I understand, and indeed share, the sense of betrayal that is the legacy of so many poor (and worse) decisions by so many in the hierarchy over the years: but we should nonetheless proceed with both charity and a degree of intelligence!
By all means go after Bishops who are remiss (with caritas and veritas in due proportion, of course) - but let us not savage those who are doing so much better than so many of their peers.
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