I have a disability. It isn’t one that you can see, but it is one that occasionally gets me into trouble. This very post may be a case in point, but here goes.
My disability is that when the Church and Faith that I love and to which I have given my life is criticised, I find it very hard to shut up and just walk away. I always have to answer it. No end of often pointless arguments have resulted. To be sure, St Peter (as referenced in the header of this blog) did tell us to be ready to give a defense when called to account for our faith, and St Paul told St Timothy (2 Tim 4:2) to preach the faith both in season and out of season, but sometimes I think there may be some wisdom in saying to oneself “don’t take the bait; just walk away”. A very wise bishop once said to me “that’s what the delete button on your computer is for”.
What’s this all about? Well, its about our friend Fr Eric Hodgens. We had a bit of go at his whinge in The Swag back before Christmas. Then there was the brief blip where CathNews picked up the story, put a link to Fr Hodgens article, and (within a very short time) the article was pulled. Barney Zwartz then ran a story in The Age accusing someone high up of “censorship”. Actually, contrary to popular opinion, CathNews is not an entirely independant news agency. It is governed by Church Resources, and Church Resources has a board, and more than one person on that Board thought that Fr Hodgens whinge was not inappropriate for the medium. Censorship? Hardly. Not running a story is an editorial decision, not an act of censorship.
But in today’s paper, Fr Hodgens himself has taken up the “censorship” line. He repeats his complaints in this article, and then asserts that “the church’s leadership has lost its way but is not willing to discuss or even consider that there may be a point”. He rather brazenly compares the refusal to give airspace (or internet space) to his whinges with “the mentality that got them caught in the headlights with the paedophilia crisis”. Even more breath-taking is the comparison of the rejection of his “message” to Jesus (“Jesus had difficulty getting his message accepted”). That is just too precious.
The headline to Fr Hodgens piece today reads “Church needs to answer critics, instead it silences them”. If only it were possible to silence Fr Hodgens! One thing that I find a bit surprising about life in the Catholic Church (as compared to my former ecclesial community) is the willingness of those who belong to her community to air their “criticisms” in the public media. But no-one is obliged to answer any critic, and sometimes it is wiser just to let the ball go through to the keeper. That is especially the case when the “criticisms” are old and tired complaints that have been answered a billion times before, but when the critic simply won’t take “no” for an answer.