The Recusant

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Propaganda War - 3

Posted by The Editor on December 14, 2012 at 1:45 PM

(More lessons from Fr. Rostand...)


Dear Readers,

We wish to draw your attention to yet another vain attempt by the other side in the propaganda war.

Advertised on the front of the US District website, right beside Fr. Rostand's optimistic-looking face, is "District Superior's Nov-Dec newsletter: Sins of the Internet: cyber-gossip".

Well, call us a load of old cynics, but we think we can guess what this might be aimed at. Let's have a guess: good websites which you are allowed to look at would include sspx.org and DICI. Bad websites which it is a sin to look at would probably include Cathinfo.com, Ignis Ardens, InThisSignYouShallConquer... any website where you might read things not 100% positive regarding the current position and direction of the SSPX!

Fr. Rostand's article is short. It is also short on fact, though long on insinuation. There are "some websites" (which?) where one will find "calumny" (mentioned 3 times) "rash judgements" (5 times), "detraction" (4 times) ... etc.

For the present we will content ourselves with the following observations:

1. To accuse someone (or even a website) of calumny, detraction, etc. without having specific evidence (i.e. a specific example or two which one can quote) is itself a form of calumny. It amounts to accusing someone (or people, in the case of a website) of sin, without any evidence. Which is itself a sin.

2. If people say something unflattering about an organisation or a person, even in the Church (let's say, a Bishop, for example), then it is not actually calumny if what they say is in fact true.

3. Where the issue in question involves doctrine, doctrinal clarity, the ability of an apostolate  such as the SSPX to operate free from the snares of its enemies, the condemnation (or lack thereof) of error and modernism... in short, where souls are at stake, then the interests of the Faith and the salvation of souls outweighs the personal reputation of any one cleric.

4. To hold high clerical office in the Church means to be responsible for what happens among the faithful underneath. A Bishop will be aware (or ought to be) of his responsibility to speak truth with clarity and firmness, to be at all times consistent, and to be seen unhesitatingly and at all times to put the interests of the Faith before all else. He will also be well aware that any scandal arising from what he says and does will be laid at his door. Pointing a finger at the faithful simply will not do.

5. Fr. Rostand talks of "rumours" and "gossip", but never gives any specific example. He must be aware that, according to Catholic teaching, there are circumstances in which one has not only a right, but a positive duty to listen to rumours, to take account of them, and perhaps to act on them, according to one's own best judgement. It very much depends (on the gossip, among other things).

6. Once again, however, within the context of the clergy watching over the faithful, a sudden spate of "rumours" and "gossip", especially rumours and gossip of prolonged duration (since at least last April, for example!) will always have its cause. That cause will very often be with the clergy themselves, and as before, the higher up, the greater the responsibility. And the solution can only really be found where the cause is to be found.

If it could be shown that clergy in positions of responsibility had, on several occasions, hidden from the faithful things which potentially greatly affect them, and things which they have a right to know; that when the cover-up failed and the truth began to leak out, those same clergy had denounced it as "internet rumours"; that later on, those same clergy had, either explicitly or implicitly confirmed that the "rumours" were actually true facts, but had offered no explanation for the cover up, for their attempted misrepresentation of facts as "rumour", for their attacking people with real concerns acting in good faith, and had shown no sign that they realised they had done something wrong, nor that they would not do so again in the future; that such clergy had been rewarded, whereas others who had not participated in this un-Catholic behaviour had been punished...
...if any of that could be shown to be the case (and it can!), then the faithful would be more than justified in seeking information, even at the risk of being accused of "gossip", whereas a "warning" like that of Fr. Rostand would begin to look very much like merely another deliberate mischaracterisation. Not to mention a "rash judgement", when it comes to "judging" people, groups, or even websites as "not without sin" when in fact no sin is involved at all, but on the contrary, in many cases a certain amount of heroic virtue and devotion to duty.

Perhaps that is why Fr. Rostand names no names and gives not one specific, concrete example. It is much easier to insinuate the faults of one's opponents, since then one does not have to provide any real evidence, and by the same token, the people concerned are unable to defend themselves against something that has not been specifically alleged. If he wishes to accuse Cathinfo.com, Ignis Ardens, or any individuals of a specific sin and warn the faithful against them, let him do so. If his meaning is otherwise, let him clearly show that it is otherwise.

Finally, since Fr. Rostand says that we ought to pray instead of using the internet, we wish to remind our readers that Our Lord does not command us merely to pray, but to "Watch and Pray!"

"Watch" in this context means "be vigilant" like a watchman. For us, that means keeping ourselves informed. Not taking anyone's word for it (no, not even that of a priest!) but educating ourselves, and staying alert.

"sit autem sermo vester est est non non!"

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