Few Catholic figures have disappointed me more than Bishop Robert Barron. His latest:
Bishop Barron noted that a person who wanted to send a “vitriolic missive to an editor” before the days of social media had to go through a lot of work that may have ended up with the editor just pitching the letter in the trash rather than publishing it.
“Today, anyone in his mom’s basement can dash off a hate-filled message and, with one press of a button, post it on social media, where it sits, unedited, for all the world to see,” he said, adding it can culminate in a mob-like mentality with “the collective goal of totally destroying the person.”
Bishop Barron noted the extremism of one side feeds into the extremism on the other side on social media. And in the Church, the bishop said, “this divisiveness has been exacerbated terribly by the social media” functioning as a scandal to people’s ability to embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Strengthening the Church’s Witness
Bishop Barron said he believes the bishops should consider exercising their authority in the digital sphere “just as John Paul II, in Ex Corde Ecclesiae, called for the bishops to exercise greater supervision of universities operating under the aegis of the Church.”
“There are, to be blunt, a disconcerting number of such people on social media who are trading in hateful, divisive speech, often deeply at odds with the theology of the Church and who are, sadly, having a powerful impact on the people of God,” he said.
“I do think that the shepherds of the Church, those entrusted with supervising the teaching office, can and should point out when people on social media are harming the Body of Christ.”
Bishop Barron suggested that it may be time for bishops “to introduce something like a mandatum for those who claim to teach the Catholic faith online, whereby a bishop affirms that the person is teaching within the full communion of the Church.”
Go here to read the rest. Why is this a bad idea:
- The Bishops have flat failed under Ex Corde Ecclesiae to produce anything like orthodox Catholic teaching at Catholic colleges and university. To point to this as a model for the Bishops to exercise supervision of the Catholic internet is risible.
- The heterodox are currently in control of the Vatican. The type of project that Bishop Barron envisages would be used to persecute orthodox Catholics on the internet.
- It is unworkable. I can think of very few Catholic writers on the Internet who would pay any attention to such silliness, except to ridicule it.
- The Bishops, to put it politely, have a credibility problem. Their role in the sex abuse scandal was shameful. Ditto their indifference to heterodox statements by priests under their authority. Pope Francis could deny the divinity of Christ and the reaction of most Bishops would be utter silence, except those claiming that it could be interpreted in a completely orthodox fashion.
- The independent voices of Catholics on the internet are largely due to the complete abdication of leadership by most Bishops. This authority that Bishop Barron wishes to grant them over the Catholic internet would be merely one more job for them to ignore.