Last week I posted something wondering what had happened to the promised revamp of The Catholic Spirit's web page that had disappeared for about 6 months. Lo and behold, the archdiocesan weekly newspaper showed up electronically this week, with its lead article being a 21st Century analysis of the Ten Commandments and wondering what kinds of sins would apply to them today.
Catholic blogdom from around here went into a frenzy yesterday when after approvingly nodding their way through seven commandments castigating those involved in keeping stores open on the Lord’s Day, violent computer games, internet music pirates, etc., they came across the entry for the Eighth Commandment which castigated bloggers for spreading gossip. Catholic blogdom around here is a pretty small group. Those of us involved know who is blogging about what and who might not be posting reliable information. Frankly, I know of nobody who has ever knowingly posted false information from around here. People I know personally were accused, but not by name, but those of us who follow the local blogs knew who was being talked about.
The interesting thing about the Spirit’s article is that they chose two issues out of the thousands of posts that have been made by Minnesota and area bloggers in 2006. One of them was the “Rumor War” that broke out late last April when a blogger now based in Rome posted a subtly worded item that indicated what later was found to mean that a Coadjutor Archbishop was to be appointed for the Archdiocese, meaning that Archbishop Harry Flynn (who will be 75 in 2007) expected to be retiring soon and his replacement was about to be reappointed. That is legitimate news, not gossip.
That Rumor War lasted through about the middle of June when all the Vatican bureaucrats went on vacation for the Summer and nothing happened. Except the Archbishop did issue a statement indicating that he had requested that a coadjutor be appointed.
The Spirit found this to be gossip. The bloggers and their readers found them to be predictions. The dates were wrong. We don’t know why. At some point we may know the truth. But all involved felt that it was exciting and fun to be involved in the search for information. No bloggers revealed who their sources were, although the names of a couple of prominent Cardinals were mentioned.
The second item mentioned by the Spirit was that “another blog reported that a local church was going to be used to “celebrate the Sin of Sodom” by hosting a Mass for a group of homosexuals who don’t agree with the church’s teachings. I was involved in putting the quash on that mistaken information that originated with a wire service story not based in Minnesota. Some national bloggers did spread the story. I did some on the spot investigating and reported that there was not to be a Mass, but rather a Prayer Service. Others did likewise. It is very common to see local bloggers making comments correcting misinformation on what is happening here on blogs from out of state.
There are some things that I am expert in and one of them is the state of blogging by Catholics in Minnesota and the surrounding states. The purpose of my blog is to encourage that and develop a support system for all of us.
Right now, there are 12 blogs in the area whose owners make entries four or more times a week and who get many readers as is evidenced by comments seen on their pages. Some (OK, two or three) might have four or more entries in a day. There are an additional 16 bloggers who blog occasionally, some once a week, some once every few months. And nine bloggers who were active this year have seemed to tire of it and no activity has been seen on their blogs since August or so. I’ve never attempted to count the number of posts those 28 or so bloggers make, but if they averaged out to 20 a day, that would be 150 a week, 600 a month, etc.
The Catholic Spirit has chosen two subjects with maybe a total of 100 posts, locally and nationally, from four or more months ago and has tarred the local blog world with accusations of the “sin of gossip”
I believe that the Eighth Commandment also includes the sin of “Rash Judgment.”
Many of these local bloggers aren’t even particularly aware that the rest of us exist. Each blog has a particular purpose. Some blogs deal in humor (Ironic Catholic and Desperate Irish Housewife). Dan Lacey who has Faithmouse is one of the most popular, prolific and pro-life Catholic cartoonists anywhere. Studeo and bearing blog belong to two mothers who are home schoolers, one with a PhD in Chemical Engineering who gave birth to her third child in July and we all got to see the first pictures.
Sharon at Butterfly Net (formerly, Clairity’s Place) who teaches in college, blogs on that and posts her photography and poetry. Her pal, Sister Edith at Monastic Musings also blogs on her teaching experiences.
A few seminarians at the St Paul Seminary occasionally blog on their experiences at Future Priests of the Third Millenium as does a Priest from Sioux Falls who posts at White Around the Collar.
The group who blogs at Our Word is particularly knowledgeable about music, opera and literature.
Perhaps the most common posting done by local bloggers involves sharing their Catholicism with others, through their personal experiences, their spiritual journey, their favorite devotions and the like. Abbey-Roads, Adoro Te Devote and the Recovering Dissident Catholic are three who are particularly active in this manner that come to mind.
You will note that news and gossip don’t seem to be high on the subject matter of these locals. That’s because few of us know "important" individuals and it is very difficult difficult to get information at the local level. Most of us are reliant on the news mediafor what news we do see.
Of course, each blog is free to post whatever they want and they do.
The Catholic Spirit will be contacted and perhaps we will get a chance to tell our side of the story.
But I don’t think that anybody ran off to see their confessor today. Attempting to be good Catholics, we do know that there are three conditions that must be met for an incident to be considered a sin: it must be an offense, you must know it is an offence and you must want to do it. Well, one of those might have applied in the cases mentioned by The Catholic Spirit.