Monday, March 5, 2007

Blogging and accountability

NB:This post has been edited a bit from its original, which I posted yesterday. I probably posted it too soon, while I was too emotional. What is changed are mostly deletions. While I certainly accept the need to be accountable, at the end of the day, I have not attacked anybody or been uncharitable in anything I have written. If my intentions have been misunderstood, I do bear some responsibility for that, but I do not have a problem asking for and expecting others, out of charity, to give me the benefit of the doubt, just as I am willing to do the same. While I may disagree with others, I do not question their intentions or assign them motives. Finally, there is nothing I write here that I do not own and would not say.

It has been my practice since beginning to blog in earnest last July, as a deacon blogging on a site called Catholic Deacon, to be accountable for what I write. Shortly after deciding the blogging life was for me, I let my pastor know what I was doing and gave him the URL so he knows where to go when he wants to read what I am writing and publicly posting on a daily basis. For a person in my position such accountability is crucial. If I am ever called upon to stop by the bishop, my pastor, or the vicar general, I will do so. In my blogging I try to steer clear of controversies, like the one that exploded on front page of the Salt Lake Tribune this morning in an article, by Peggy Fletcher Stack, entitled, Gay-friendly Mass on way out. I did make a comment on another blog stating my opposition to what was happening in Park City, pointing out that I did not think it was in accordance with the guidelines issued by the USCCB last November, entitled: Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care, which I addressed in a post last fall: Another delicate matter. I have since deleted that comment.

I want this blog to be a source of catchesis, thoughtful reflection on contemporary life in light of our faith, as well as a source of inspiration and dialogue at service of communion. Should my efforts come to be perceived as being primarily ideological and, hence, divisive, I will simply stop. I continue to believe, however, that such efforts are vital, even if they stir controversy from time-to-time. In this age it is necessary for the Church at every level to have a presence in cyber-space. Of course, these efforts require appropriate pastoral oversight. I readily accept that there are some who may disagree with me or my way of explaining things. I invite those who disagree with me to join the discussion. It is my on-going promise that all who participate here will continue to be treated with dignity and respect.

The reason I even deign to mention all this is because my post, A gratuitously long exposition on the Church's mission, has been perceived by some as a criticism of Archbishop Niederauer, whom I love dearly and about whom I have written frequently and glowingly. I offer the following two examples that indicate the high esteem in which I hold him: The Sacrament of Holy Orders on an Anniversary and Well done, Archbishop Niederauer! Even in my other long post on related matters, Church and State in Democratic Societies: The Shifting Balance, my critical comments seem to me quite tempered. I recognize the difficulties bishops face in the many complex and highly-charged issues they are forced to deal with and understand that solutions are not one size fits all.

What I intended the post in question to be was a pitch for our Diocesan Development Drive, which is what provides the resources for the bishop of our diocese to meet the pastoral needs of our local Church. Far from being a criticism of then-Bishop Niederauer, my post sought to discuss the unique position our diocese is in presently: meeting the needs of an exploding Catholic population and dealing, as all dioceses must, with the scarcity of resources. Also, for what it was worth, pointing out a few areas that, in my opinion, we should make higher priorities as time goes on. As I mentioned in the post, these are great challenges, both in terms of their magnitude and, among an unlimited range of possibilities, these are the challenges to have! Nonetheless, I deleted the offending post.

Please know, that I also look to you, my readers, to hold me accountable. I am a firm believer in, and try to be a practitioner of what our Lord outlines in Matthew chapter 18, verses 15-17, which begins: "If your brother sins (against you), go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have won over your brother."


  1. Peace! I have tried to add a comment before, but it didn't work it seems. Anyway, I want to encourage you in your blog, and commend your awareness of your responsibility. But also to say that no matter what comment you make, someone can find something wrong with it if they want to. I will pray for you. God bless!

  2. I appreciate the encouragement and prayers, especially from a son of San Francesco.

  3. Great Blog. I love the tone and the message. I am a member of Park City Parish and was actually one of the people quoted in the salt lake paper. This is a nice and welcome change. Peace of Christ

  4. Thanks, Joe. Msgr. Bussen and the entire St. Mary's community are in my prayers. It is my specific prayer that God will use all of this, as painful as it is for everybody involved, to draw the parish closer together.