Bishop Michael Campbell, the successor of the apostles in Lancaster, my home diocese, is coming in for a lot of criticism on the Catholic blogosphere at present.
That has been sparked by the controversy over the suspension of the Protect the Pope blog, about which I have blogged previously (here).
Deacon Nick has behaved in an exemplary fashion in his obedience to his bishop. He has also made it clear both that the media reporting of the incident (eg in The Tablet) has been error-strewn, and also that he finds it very frustrating to read people's assumptions.
So my plea is this: let us not assume anything about this situation. Nick is clearly not able to say much about it; the bishop has said very little (and he may have good reasons for that). Yet many on the Catholic blogosphere assume that they know the bishop's motives and that they were not good: he has been explicitly accused of injustice, and implicitly of much besides.
But I know that +Campbell is not some liberal time server. He has done much that orthodox Catholics should applaud. He encourages Confession actively with his "the Light is on for you" project. He allows a monthly Sunday Mass in the EF in his Cathedral, and is attending a High Mass (EF) in the near future. He has invited two excellent nuns in to support the University Chaplaincy at Lancaster, which has recently hosted a Plainchant workshop for students...
Nor is he under the thumb of the CBCEW. Do you imagine he wins many plaudits there by inviting the Institute of Christ the King to run a parish in Preston?
I think it is unhealthy for Catholics to assume a bishop to be malign based on insubstantial information, and most unhelpful for them then to make a lot of noise to that effect.
We do not know what has happened behind the scenes with regard to the Protect the Pope blog. We may find out, in due course, and if +Campbell has behaved poorly I will shout as loudly as everyone. But we don't know that he has, and it is both unjust and imprudent to assume that he has. There are other possible explanations that reflect well on him, without denigrating the good work Deacon Nick has done. I won't enumerate them, as Nick has made it clear he does not like reading such assumptions, and I think his reasonable wishes in that regard should be honoured.
For myself, I think my bishop deserves to be regarded as innocent until proven guilty; and moreover, honoured and supported for the good (and in some cases courageous) steps he has taken.
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