Despite having asked Sir Michael Quinlan, the chairman, to stop sending it to my parish, he did this week, so I have been looking at the letters about Blackfen. There is one from Maureen Hedderman who seems to have sent her letter here first, though The Tablet seems to have edited it a bit, I didn't, but published it as it was sent to me, see here in the comments. I think I could claim the copyright. (I seem to have made a mistake, for which I unreservedly apologise, the letter I received was from Claire Hedderman but the sentiments and expression were so similar to those of her mother's in the Tablet, you might understand it was an honest mistake - see the comments here, addressed rather curteously to "Fr Blog", for Claire's explanation - again my apologies to her and her mother)
An awful lot lies behind all of this, I shall put some of it under three headings:
First of I think it is interesting that The Bitter Pill should go after Fr Tim, a prominent priest, someone, who had they been asked, many would have tipped for a miter, a seminary professor, a writer of popular theology, a noted preacher and teacher, a leader of the Faith Movement, and someone who because of his blog is nationally know as a priest who unambiguously allies himself with "the Benedictine Project" and the "hermeneutic of continuity". The storm that has been raised in the blogosphere isn't just affection for the good priest Finigan, it is about fighting for the Pope. I wonder if the feeling against The Pill and Ms Curti would have been quite so great if the secular media were not in feeding frenzy around the barque of Peter. This is an example of The Tablet, again once more against the Pope and blogs for him.
Secondly, this is about a struggle between the old and the new on several levels. I think Fr Tim is so right when he says The Tablet really doesn't understand modern media, it boasts of its 27,000 print run but of course a good number of these, perhaps 7,000, remain unsold at the back of churches. Invariably three of the seven sent here were thrown away. In my parish of the four people who bought it regularly, when it was sold here, three are over seventy-five. Facing facts, in five years time one can expect the 27,000 print run to be reduced by at least 10,000 though the deaths of its readers. The Tablet has to learn the future is on the net and and free.
The other part of the struggle between old and new is that the Tablets type of liberalism is self destructive, the young are uninterested in its dull whining. Cardinal Pell complaining about an attack by it on the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney said of it in a letter to it:
"...My problem with Catholic liberalism is that it is ineffective, unattractive to young Catholics, and often drains strength from the Church rather than building it up. It is increasingly irrelevant to the religious struggle, particularly in Britain....
I have long been disappointed by The Tablet's persistent subversions of some Catholic teaching and mystified by the inability of the English bishops to nudge it towards a more productive line of witness, ...."