Monday, 16 January 2012

What's wrong with CV's critics?

In my last, I summarised what I think has gone wrong with the Catholic Voices project.

I think it is also worth looking at the other side of the coin: the way in which some on the Catholic blogosphere have interacted with, and commented on, CV and CV members.

I include myself in that number.

It seems to me that some of us, at least, have been viewing any CV activity, and the activity of anyone associated with it, in a prejudicial light.

For some, that prejudice is partly an occupational issue: for journalists, bad news generally makes better stories than good news: and that applies not only to the likes of Damian Thompson, but also to bloggers who lose sight of their real purpose in pursuit of hits.

On top of that, some have a predisposition to attack anything in which  Opus Dei or any member thereof is involved (let's not rehearse the no involvement argument here...)

Then there are those who feel they have been slighted by CV collectively or by Jack or Austen individually.  Understandably, that risks colouring their perception of CV.

And there are those, and this included me, who had high hopes of CV, but were dumbfounded at some stage (in my case, the view that the BBC's programme The Pope's Divisions was 'superb').

The result of all that is that a small but vociferous number of Catholic bloggers and journalists have been looking critically (and no doubt from the CV point of view with jaundiced eyes) at everything they do.

Positive things are less likely to be commented on, both because they are less newsworthy (no newspaper ever sold with a headline that every plane landed safely at Heathrow yesterday) and also because they do not fit the dominant narrative about CV in these circles.  Anything that can be questioned, is.  And anything that is ambiguous is presented as proof at least of incompetence, if not of collusion with some dodgy agenda.  That's all fairly understandable, if not always wholly edifying.

But there has also, it seems to me, been something more; something that on the receiving end has felt like harrassment and bullying, even if that was not the intention.

To some extent that is to do with style, but there is something more.

So what have I seen?

Bombardment with a series of messages, showing no inclination to listen to the responses, merely to repeat the message with ever increasing force; name-calling ('CVeebies'); leaping to judgement rather than enquiring ('that's heretical' rather than 'can I check what you're getting at here...?'); treating individuals as part of a collective all the time - and tarring them all with the same brush; casuistry and nit-picking to score points; failure to recognise (even when told) that someone is in an emotionally fragile state, and so on; failure to recognise that these are not career bureaucrats, nor theological experts (that's the point!) but rather individuals who wish to serve the Church and give freely of their time and energy to stand up in the public square and take the hits from the enemy (do they really need 'friendly fire' too?).

I am sure that most of this is done with good intentions: in the pursuit of truth.  But when we forget the fundamental inter-relation of Caritas and Veritas, we have lost the plot.

Mea culpa, 
Mea culpa,
Mea maxima culpa.