Thursday, 19 June 2014

Are the wheels coming off the Guild's bus?

I admit to not being quite up to speed with what is taking place with regard to the Guild of Blessed Titus Brandsma and, what is more, I am rather too stretched on other fronts to bone up on the facts.

I hope, therefore, that the chairman and fellow guild members will overlook any discrepancies as regards my "take" as to what's what.

It appears that Laurence England is asking for members to submit drafts of their posts for approval and, is even suggesting that a code of conduct must be observed even on their own blogs.
The Guild, it would seem, does not wish to appear guilty by association.

When Dylan Parry first mooted the concept of a guild it was informally agreed that members should conform to a code with regard to their posts on the Guild blog. All posts should be in accord with the teachings of Holy Mother Church and all bloggers should uphold the principles of Christian charity towards others in their writings.

Their personal blogs remained a matter for them to consider; they were beyond the remit of the Guild itself.

We then come to the grey, blurry issue of criticising one's fellow man.

I see nothing wrong in that (on one's own blog). In fact, under the creaking infrastructure of HMC, I believe we have a duty to criticise and expose issues that would otherwise be ignored.
Always on the basis, of course, of Christian charity.    

I really cannot countenance a committee whose role it would be to scrutinise posts or, worse, check up on individual blogs.

Maybe I have got the wrong end of the stick.

But, the Guild, in my opinion, is struggling somewhat. This has nothing to do with the
Chairman, it involves issues that have never been discussed in any detail.

The thing is, now that we have the Guild, what do we do with it?

It is fine to have an 'unstructured' group but we should not be too surprised when the wheels start to come off.

Sad as it may seem, we do need some simple form of constitution and, possibly, a mini action group to move us on from an annual Mass and lunch afterwards.

Perhaps we need a more lighter, streamlined programme that embraces the occasional Mass in London followed by a few jars of the 'O be joyful'.

And we need a slightly more formal protocol as to our posts.....but we do not need an Index to assess and appraise.

If anyone steps out of line, as they will, from time to time, then take the post down....job for the Chairman or his deputy.

But no witch hunts into our personal blogs.......that way leads to a membership in single figures.

This is meant to be helpful rather than a snipe at what is taking place.


  1. What's more concerning is that blogs we know and love seem to be fading.

  2. pray God not this one .It is the first one I look at every time I get on the internet

  3. Some just run out of steam feeding fodder to their beloved fans. Others are nothing more than mutual admiration clubs. A few are genuinely committed to the praise and worship of Almighty God.

  4. This is a storm in a tea cup. Let's put it like this, the same person always seems to be the centre of the controversy. It is getting tiresome. Beyond that twitter is the work of the devil.


  5. Sorry Sir but permit me to remind you what was decided at the first meeting: Absolute fidelity to the magisterium was the sole requisite for membership - on both the Guild blog AND personal blogs - BUT in ANY OTHER REGARD what was written on a personal blog was none of the Guild's business - this is an issue of personal freedom regarding Matters of taste and lifestyle and praxis [Doxa] vs where Episteme [rational conclusions regarding belief] contravenes magisterial teaching - a Guild member is NOT permitted to adhere to contra-magisterial teachings [lest we have ACTA members, pro-abortion members, heretical or sedevacantist members etc]

    Given this magisterial umbrella we could have diversity of membership: e.g. those more promotive of the mass of ages vs those promoting the novus ordo; those in favour of married priests vs those vehemently against it - the fervent evangelical vs the most staunch traditionalist - all orthodox - but nevertheless a tension and potential cause of antagonism - healthy disagreement which might ineluctably lead to heated [less than "sensitive" in its weaker sense] division and maybe the odd thrown invective perjorative to vent steam and exasperation - but nevertheless we're supposed to reflect the structure of the Church and be magisterially inclusive.

    Freedom of expression and opinion is paramount - and a guild member can say anything he or she wishes in this regard - be it politically or ideologically or culturally - PROVIDING it is not contrary to Church teaching.

    The same goes for private life and personal conscience - a person may ostensibly be living in public scandal [e.g. myself having fathered three Children out of wedlock or other members who might be living in sin or divorced/remarried etc] But the Guild does not judge the potential ostensible 'disordered lifestyle' - the only mandatory aspect of membership is their endorsing and professing Church teaching and directives in this regard. Being a sinner is not a proscription - denying its sinfulness would be. [to be continued]

  6. [continued]
    This was a double-edged safeguard for both Guild members and the Guild itself who might be jeopardised by fellow members by being accused of guilt by association: For instance a seminarian blogger or a blogger with a seminarian family member could be inadvertently jeopardised by belonging to a Guild where strong-worded criticism of our national hierarchy or even the present papacy was the main thrust of another member's blog - hence we adamantly reassured [if you remember I strenuously pointed it out during the last meeting - what a Guild member writes on their own blog has NOTHING to do with the Guild and vice-versa BUT the loyalty to the magisterium precept remains mandatory and absolute.

    Laurence has chosen to introduce two rules for the Guild: The 1st is 'no spiteful attacks among Guild members on social media' which in my opinion is frankly absurd, unworkable and - attacks may vary from the personal insult [e.g. idiot socialist] or an attack on a person's character [e.g. 'you're an intolerant bully' or 'if you lose an argument you claim victimhood'] or a vicious detraction [e.g. that man has no right to speak on Catholicism given he's fathered three [expletive deleted] ] or it might even encroach upon bearing false witness and calumny ["U did V on W at X for Y motive intending Z as an outcome"] - Now if the Guild had to deal with these issues the former immoderate acts can be easily forgiven - but for justice to be served in regard to the latter activities the Guild would require a highly formalised grievance and investigation procedure with clear enforceable disciplinary measures - Which Laurence [and the ongoing spirit of the Guild where it has ever been hinted at] was in the absolute negative in this regard...we were not going to Police blogs or monitor like some new Inquisition. Therefore this 1st 'rule' is less than a guideline and more a simple request to be polite and charitable to fellow members online - because technically any member can arbitrarily choose to follow or renege upon this request - without any formal consequence....

    But in the second 'rule' this is easily implementable and can be done in Charity while following the spiritual works of mercy and retaining the integrity of the Guild's mission to remain loyal to the magisterium by privately informing the [inadvertent/wilful] blogger with the contra-magisterial position and asking them to reconsider and clarify/retract any contra-magisterial blogpost and give them a period for prayer and reflection to discern whether they wish to belong to an orthodox Guild or wish to go their own way.

  7. As a reader and commenter, rather than a blogger, I suppose I might qualify as a "customer" rather than a participant, but here's my two penn'orth.

    The most useful function of the Guild for me is that it draws attention to the less well advertised, but excellent, specialist bloggers. The "big beasts" which I follow on Twitter are great, but I find wonderful, literate, blogs like "Hilaire Belloc", "Scottish Catholic Observant", "Sub Umbra" and "Tiny Son" quite hard to keep track of without the Titus sidebar - they drop below the line quite quickly on other sidebars, because they don't post every week - but when they do - they are well worth reading.

    I am also mindful of the fact that while it is relatively easy for the South-Eastern based people to get to Blackfen - it is hard and expensive for those in the provinces, unless they have relatives with which to stay, or a bottomless purse - and it is a big ask to expect those in employment, those with health issues, or with young children, or a parish to run, to juggle precious week-end time - and I appreciate it when the far-flung bloggers like Richard do make time for their fans.

    That said, one person at the last blognic, attended with the idee fixe that "Dilly" was in fact the Brandsma blogger "BattlementClare" - and notwithstanding the fact that I was clearly fatter, older and blonder than that lady (and was also well known to various other people there as a discrete entity from previous blognics) I was amused to see, on Twitter later that I was apparently a "meatpuppet" of the blogger in question. This sort of aggressive nonsense - together with later threats of people apparently within the circle of one or two of the more excitable bloggers to "write to your head-teacher" (my comments having been stalked after these conspiracy theorists' initial premise was disproved, and this "factlet" established to their satisfaction) and to "tell the bishop" of my activities. I would have taken this with a pinch of salt - but for the fact that three unrelated sources confirmed that this threat had been carried out in relation to a number of other people.

    Fr Blake and Nick Donnelly were also hounded by various commenters (not suggesting in this case that they were linked to TB Bloggers), so we are in great company - but really and truly - those attending blognics should be able to do so without worrying that their personal details are being reported on to the various oddbods that inhabit cyberspace.

    Finally - I agree with Richard - your blog - your manor. The Guild website was misused recently, however, and this should not be allowed to recur. Perhaps you should publish any intended articles privately between the bloggers (via email or some other way) and only publish them if no blogger makes objection within a reasonable timeframe (say 4 days). Remember that you have priest bloggers - and it would be a dreadful thing if they were associated in the future with an unsuitable post. (I am not suggesting that this has happened to date - but recent events raise the possibility).

  8. I know nothing about the Guild other than what is written in the above comments. But one such comment demands rebuttal.

    "On the side of the angels", whoever he or she might be (and I leave to one side the ethical problems posed by the communist-type habit of obvious pseudonyms when this habit is extended to Catholic fora), writes as follows: "Freedom of expression and opinion is paramount."

    Not for Catholics it isn't. I regret to state that this statement (however well intended) is Masonic balderdash pure and simple.

    Anyone who has bothered to read Gregory XVI's encyclical Mirari vos (never subsequently abrogated) will be perfectly well aware that there is no innate Catholic right to free speech. Never has been. Never will be. The concept of such a right is specifically condemned by that pope, especially in the field of publication.

    If there really were such a right, then not only must Gregory XVI have been barking insane, but Christ Himself must have been telling lies when He said that "every idle word" we utter will need to be accounted for before our Judge. But somehow I think that accusing Our Redeemer of mendacity might be, even for modernists, "a bridge too far".

    Now it is perfectly true that since God - and God alone - can call forth good from evil, we may in exceptional circumstances use Satan's weapons against Satan. (An obvious wartime instance: In most circumstances murder is forbidden; but Stauffenberg had a perfect right, and arguably an inescapable duty, to plan murdering Hitler.)

    Thus, "freedom of speech" can for certain Catholics at certain periods constitute a legitimate battle-cry, for when our Whig-Marxist-bankster overlords take our livelihoods, preparatory to their intention of taking our lives. In America, for example, Catholics have very effectively used the First Amendment to delay (even if they cannot abort altogether) Obama's more depraved schemes.

    The same with "human rights" in the former Soviet Union. If blathering about "human rights" could alone rescue unnumbered Solzhenitsyns from unnumbered gulags, then such blathering had provisional legitimacy.

    But confusion of provisional legitimacy with inalienable legitimacy is the sort of poisonous moral infraction that one expects from the local Bishop Bozo or Sister Sugarplum. Seeing it expounded by Catholic lay adults, whose knowledge of unfashionable encyclicals appears to be zero, is alarming indeed.

    1. RJ

      I am shocked that you should cast aspersions upon the reasoning of the blogger known affectionately to one and all as the "Archbishop of Corby".

      I am unclear as to whether the person you castigate has actually completed any third or fourth level qualifications, but in his own words he comes from

      “an authentically orthodox non-consequentialist moral theology/ethics background as well as having nine years of 3rd level philosophy/theology/psychology under my belt“ and was “ a director of Religious education in the US and was acting head of an FE College’s philosophy & religion department “ and has “ been the parish catechist for years.”

      It is a tragedy that, as he admits later ;
      “I’d be champing at the bit to share a bit of the apologetic background I have but there’s no point doing it on my blog where I never had any readers no matter what I did or how many blogposts I made”.

      Doubtless the lack of traffic on his blog was entirely unrelated to his accusing a woman in Brighton of having posted a comment there which was in fact (and proved by a courageous chap called Greg) posted from a place 200 miles away by a known troll - and harassing any person who pointed this out. Commenters and readers are never put off accessing blogs by the possibility that they going to be pursued on and off-line for three years by a bevy of shrieking harpies from the blogger's fan club.

      Where is your charity, RJ? Surely suspending one's logical faculties is a small price to pay for peace and quiet?

  9. a] RJ - You obviously didn't read what I said - I was referring to all Doxa [matters of taste & preference] where one was at full liberty upon one's blog. In regards to that which Holy Mother [Episteme] believes, teaches and does one is expected to be in conformity.

    b] Now I refuse to go into the gross discourtesy of certain guests to the last Guild meeting where twitter shenanigans during the event , refusal to give their name to all members & a deception about someone's blogging status left a very nasty taste in the mouth - but the ongoing social media activity of those involved has been misinformed, misguided and frankly saddening...they are in my prayers but if they had any idea what they'd done [and for what motivation still escapes but astounds me!] I think they will be very shocked at the Final Judgment to find out how wrong they were. I can only plead they cease their activity.

    In regard to the 'abuse' of the Guild blog there had been a few recent instances where material published by a third party was placed on a guild member's blog without accreditation - this could have been a mere inadvertent oversight but the Guild needed a reminder to ensure blogging courtesy - I made no references or accusations I merely posted a reminder. A certain person took umbrage erroneously believing i was referring to them and proceeded to get others to bombard Laurence with multiple complaints and hence the blogpost was removed - Laurence suggesting it was only appropriate material for an FB page to which most Guild members don't actually belong so would never see!!

    Richard I am of course pleading with you to reconsider your position and frankly the reasons for your leaving are grounded upon presuppositions about the direction of the guild and your not being granted the courtesy of being informed what exactly is going on. I have no problem explaining this to you in private communcation where if you don't mind i'll include Laurence to ensure that I am neither misrepresenting events or activites and future potential claims of deceit may be dismissed

    1. Of course for those who can't wait for the Final Judgement, a preliminary verdict on your conduct on this life is available from +Corby on demand - or, more precisely, whether you demand it or not.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Dear 'On the side of the angels'

    I take it that you have now married the concubine whom you continuously* fathered three children with? After all, if not, it would make your statement (ever waxing-lyrical) of "In regards to that which Holy Mother [Episteme] believes, teaches and does one is expected to be in conformity" somewhat redundant, no?

    Indeed, forgive me if I have come to the wrong conclusion, but is it my understanding that you have been allowed to be a parish catechist (...of children...) while partaking in illicit *ucking? If I discovered that my kid was being catechised by someone living in such non-Catholic circumstances, I would pull my kid out of the classes and leave the parish and feel fully justified in doing so and find the priest's judgement questionable in this matter.

    Having been brought up rather strictly by my mother (too strictly, I sometimes think), I got married in the Catholic Church to have sex.

    You write:

    "But the Guild does not judge the potential ostensible 'disordered lifestyle' - the only mandatory aspect of membership is their endorsing and professing Church teaching and directives in this regard."

    Then might I suggest that the Guild re-examine their guidelines and 'pull it's finger out' in this regard to clear up such scandalous example to the Catholic faithful by allowing posts to be put up on its Brandsma pages by 'c'atholic bloggers that are not living according to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church and so causing scandal to Catholic readers (especially those who are seeking conversion who may be misled by the example of non-Catholic lifestyle choices given), which is the same as openly gay etc partners and divorced and remarried Catholics seeking roles in parish life such as on the Parish Council or lay readers, EHMCs etc.

    I seem to recall a few years ago that you took a dislike to a lady's comment that criticised a priest's actions and I was shocked to read that you threatened her on a Father's blog by going so far as to mention which diocese (that you ascertained) she worked in. This could have caused her to loose her job. Any comments?

    *As an ex-seminarian, I'm sure you are familiar with the phrase "hardened mortal sin".


    I shouldn't really be getting myself involved in the Brandsma discussions. But some things irritate....

    1. I should have added...

      ...that we all struggle with our sins, and sometimes these sins can be very burdensome at certain times during our lives. I sometimes ponder if God puts us through a crucible in this way so as to draw us ever closer to Himself. But, ultimately, the end goal is conversion, repentance and the Confessional. Always. No matter the struggle.

  11. Dear Dilly

    Blimey. "meatpuppet", "factlet" and "tell the Bishop". How awful to go through all that...

  12. Richard I I can only apologise for my presence here causing this antagonism - I won't bother you again and hopefully the assorted stalkers and haters of yours truly will not bother you again either

  13. Hello. Bear in mind I am not familiar with the workings of the guild and therefore only gave the foregoing posts to go on. My take on this us that blogs are individual. Each blogger must take responsibility for his or her own content. I think the role of the guild should be to provide a forum within which bloggers can interchange ideas, but no individual blogger could hide behind the guild and evade responsibility for comments.

    In much the same way, when I send an email on behalf of my company, i sign a disclaimer stating that the content is my own opinion. Not necessarily company policy, and does not enter the company into anything binding. If I err in this, the company may rake disciplinary action.

    To vet every post from all bloggers is a knee jerk reaction to , I don't know what. It is not the way to go, and I don't think it us necessary

  14. The problems with the Guild are obvious in this comment box. The lack of professionalism and objectivity, the lack of rational discourse instead of ad hominems, the lack of absolute loyalty to the Church are all paramount.

    I have written on the Guild blog at least twice that there is a generation or two of people who never learned debate in school, never had solid catechesis and insist on opinions rather than reflections or mediations based on solid lives of prayer and reflection.

    Knee-jerk reactions are not blogging and neither are personal comments of any kind. I suggest looking at the reason for the Guild blog again.

    Articles should not have to be "reviewed" if the rules for blogging are clearly stated, and for the Guild, these have been, imo.

    To think that blogging is for airing grievances, carrying on private arguments, or passing off private opinions as doctrine is the stuff of juveniles.

    Sorry, but blogging is a grave responsibility to evangelize, teach, encourage and further the Kingdom of God. Blogging has little to do with venting or internecine bickering.

    As to orthodoxy, this is a problem more in Great Britain, than in America, where there are alternatives to state-funded Catholic education. We who have home schooled know the rot of the system. We know that logic and debate were dropped from the curricula in the 1980s, leaving a absence of learning how to think rationally on one's feet.

    Sadly, we can only present so much in a blog, but our DUTY as Catholics is to spread the Catholic faith in any way we can.

    This is my mission as a lay person, and I sincerely hope the Guild continues with its original mission of spreading the Gospel of Christ as given in the fullness of truth to our wonderful Church.