Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Noise and Silence

Just for your interest have a look at this stuff:
http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/Priest-defends-blog-offering-sympathy.6136103.jp

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1256533/Jon-Venables-Terror-young-father-accused-Bulger-killer-Facebook.html

http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/5049782.Brighton_priest_defends_comments_about__innocent__Jon_Venables/

http://www.wscountytimes.co.uk/latest/Priest-defends-blog-offering-sympathy.6136255.jp

http://www.brightonandhovenews.org/2010/03/brighton-priest-feels-sorry-for-jamie-bulgers-killer/

As Gem's, "let them rot" diatribe formed a major part of the story and she was assumed to be one of my parishioners - poor journalism not checking her link- I hope she will feel honour bound to go around the regional newspapers of the UK and point out San Diego is not geographically part of Brighton! My parishioners, who are gentle compassionate people, for the most part do not share her "hang 'em high" Republican views.

Yesterday was very noisy, almost every phone call was from a media outlet of one sort or another: newsagencies, papers, television stations, someone even turned up with a tv camera. Fortunately I was busy and didn't have time for much of it but I do feel a little resentful that my comments are used to stoke up fires on this issue, which should be left to die down quietly. My comments are meant for the small community of 2-3,000 of readers of this blog, who care to read the ramblings of this opinionated priest. They are meant to provoke a discussion, thought and maybe prayer; an attempt to introduce some sort of democracy into the Church.

The other thing which I find continues to irritate is that there is no "official" agency that is willing to offer a commentary on issues that seem to concern the popular media. It is not so much this issue but a whole raft of others that directly concern the Church: the Ed Balls Bill is one issue where there is, apart from the CES's ridiculous comment, silence. There is silence too on vicious attacks on the Church, silence on the abuse allegations against the Church which are growing like a dark cloud over Europe, silence on the attacks on the Pope. There is silence too on so much of the Church's teaching: on compassion, mercy, sex and sexuallity, on politics, on human rights, on the persecution of the Church, on international issues, etc etc.

The Catholic Church in England and Wales far from following its Lord's commission to preach the Gospel to the nations is the Church of Silence! The preachers should be the bishops, why are they dumb in the public forum?

41 comments:

Michael Clifton said...

Fr Ray I am sorry that you have been exposed to so much ridicule by the media but perhaps it will draw more readers to the excellent material you publish. Our secular society or a substantial majority of its members would probably lynch Venables if they could get at him. No idea of forgiveness even appears, no chance or repentance, just "rot in hell"

Andrew said...

Fortunately for all of us right now, San Diego is not part of Her Majesty's Dominions!!! The thought of GOTO becoming Lord Chancellor is enough to make one seek out the vapours...

Annie said...

This is why we thank God for you, Father! Prayers :D

shane said...

I found this very funny and I do hope you continue to write 'controversial' posts. There's no such thing as bad publicity.

Anonymous said...

What do you mean by introducing Democracy into the Church,
Scott

Jackie Parkes MJ said...

So sorry you had to endure that Fr Ray. It must be hard enough being a god & holy priest without all this flak. I think you were spot on as a Catholic priest giving us guidance. It concerns me re the blogs..I get a couple of thousand readers a week, that it doesn't materialise into change at the CES or with the bishops. I expect Fr Tim was successful re The Pill..
I'm meeting silence from the clergy regarding issues I have..deathly silence..different when they wanted something..now I'm a thorn in their side. Sorry Fr Ray I know I moved onto myself..but "silence" yeah it's deafening!

Keep up the good work..we are listening!

Hestor said...

The preachers should be the bishops, why are they dumb in the public forum?

But didn't you say awhile back that you personally believed the bishops were working "behind the scenes" to defend the liberty of the church?! Hence why you proclaimed that you would not sign the petition for the bishops to call the CES into question?

Time to smell the coffee...

PaulineG said...

Father Ray,

Last night I heard a talk given by a wonderful lady whose daughter was killed and who has forgiven her killer.

This is her story: http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2010/jan/30/mary-foley-forgiveness-daughter-killer

It provides a beautiful endorsement of your wise words.

I see one of the (similar)reports is attributed to the Press Association. Not the first time I have seen incorrect information originating from a news agency widely and unquestioningly disseminated.

Michael Petek said...

"Let them rot" isn't quite the way I'd put it.

I've no doubt that Our Lord Himself is full of compassion for John Venables and Robert Thompson, as He was for St Paul when he was still persecuting and murdering Christians. And if either of them came to confession properly disposed, they would receive absolution.

The civil authorities cannot act on this basis, because they have their own task in vindicating human life and maintaining social order.

The only way they can do this is by judging cases according to externally verifiable facts and by applying laws which, to be just, must address the generality of cases.

The civil authorities have determined that, in England and Wales, children aged 10-14 can be convicted of a criminal offence if it can be proved that they were aware that what they were doing was seriously wrong. Legislators are within reason in enacting such a provision, because in the normal course of things the conscience of a child of that age is not fully developed, though on the facts of a particular case it can be. In the case of Venables and Thompson the jury found, reasonably on the facts that were put before them, that they were culpable.

The judge was also well within his rights to use the words he did when passing sentence, and he was right in stipulating that prison is definitely a just punishment for them.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Father,
On this issue the media haven't ridiculed, just been a little amazed a priest should express compassion.

pelerin said...

If the media are amazed that a Priest should show compassion, then they know little about Christianity.

I am pleased that you have pointed out that one of the commenters quoted as a 'parishioner' is in the US. As you say that is a bit far to be a parishioner and the journalist could easily have found out her whereabouts with one click and also found out about her extreme politics too.

I bought the Argus today, the first time in years I think, and note that in spite of their saying 'Fr Blake refused to speak to the Argus' they have managed to give you the best part of a page with a large photo. A headline of 'Parishioners furious over comments about killer' made my blood boil!

'Leading community figures should not exhibit inflammatory opinions that the majority find upsetting and even abhorrent' says the Argus comment.' It adds 'Fr Blake is an outspoken man ...' Please carry on being outspoken Father as we wait for our Bishops to finish their silence on so many important matters.

JARay said...

I can only commend you Father for your truly Catholic perspective. I know that Ttony posted it first and he is to be similarly commended.
God bless.
JARay

LF said...

Being on the receiving end of the vitriole of the Daily Mail is what poor people and immigrants experience on a daily basis. For a newspaper that supported Hitler, I'd take their criticism as a sign that you must be doing something right.

Crux Fidelis said...

Father, I fear the Argus have the knives out for you.


Beati estis cum maledixerint vobis et persecuti vos fuerint et dixerint omne malum adversum vos mentientes propter me

Mike said...

Father Ray,

I don't know how many parishioners you have but they are all very lucky to have you as their parish priest.

Sorry to the decent journalists but there are an awful lot of dreadful journalists working in the media these days. Too many axes to grind and not enough effort being put into any basic research when writing stories.

George said...

Dear Fr Blake, from your various photos on the blogosphere you look like you have a 'pair of shoulders' broad and stout like those no doubt of Simon of Cyrene, so that when they persecute, mock, ridicule, kick and shove Our Blessed Lord along the route of His Passion you are there helping to shoulder His cross! Thank you.

Reason for Persecution: the Cross separates us from the world......

John 15:18-21

“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.

Remember the word that I said to you... If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you... because they do not know Him who sent Me."

Prayers assured - God Bless you for your work.

Andrew Bird said...

I salute you, Father Ray, for your dignified and courageous approach to this subject. It mystifies me, even as a non-Catholic, that the media should consider your eminently apt and intelligent views as a scandal. How much more it says about their values than yours. Bless you.

the owl of the remove said...

Prayers for you, dear Father. - Re: the "silence" and the "dark clouds" - England will be the centre of the next great persecution of the Church - that is why the Holy Father is really coming - and why he is making another visit to Spain - where they were killing priests just 70 years ago.

John Fitzpatrick said...

The Argus is guilty of bad journalism. Misquotes, quoting out of context, not checking facts or sources ....its a rubbishy rag. But nevertheless, I'm sorry that they are bothering you, Father. The fact that they are, demonstrates that you are doing your job.

Mariana said...

I'm so sorry, Father!

nickbris said...

They are NAZI rags and some should be closed down for some of the inflamatory rubbish they print.

Winston Churchill threatened to close some down if they didn't mend their ways.

parepidemos said...

Dear Father,

There is not a single one of us who, when meeting God, will hope to receive justice; we shall all be praying for understanding and mercy. Your words regarding Jon Venables were of Christ. Thank you.

Shepherd said...

Father, ignore the media comment. You are conducting Christ's work, that is all that matters.
"The Cross is always ready and follows you wherever"
Thomas a Kempis.

mum6kids said...

Like Fr Clifton I wonder if all this press hysteria will simply mean more readers for your blog.
I do wonder what on earth these so called journalists are on.
I must admit, I do like Karen's forthrightness. She says it plainly and I don't think she means to be unkind-just unvarnished honesty.
I think we are heading for a storm in this country> I agree with Fr "Owl" on this.
Prayers for you as you carry this particular cross this Lent.

shadowlands said...

"Do not be surprised.........."

You know the rest of that particular scripture.

Be assured of daily prayers ( rosary ) Father.

Independent said...

Athanasius contra mundum - carry on Fr Blake. One may not always agree with some of your views but you always write as a Christian. I hope you will continue to be controversial, as blandness has no effect. Keep up the good work.

Presumably the maxim governing the conduct of the catholic bishops is "Give no trouble".

georgem said...

Fr, Moderation in all things. By that I mean you may have to be more stern in moderating the more knee-jerk, emotional views posted here.
I think the Argus is on a roll with this blog and will be keeping a beady eye out for any story perceived to have "legs".
There's no moral judgement involved by Argus journalists or any other. They are driven only by what is "a good story" and, if it gets a bit of controversy going, so much the better for reaction and sales.
Subtlety is not part of their modus operandi. The media, on the whole, does not lead public opinion; it follows it - counting the pennies all the while.
Following the last kerfuffle, I did submit a letter advocating free speech to the Argus on the day it gave huge space to views opposed to yours. It wasn't published. No surprise there.
Keep going, Father. I regard your blog as a bright light shining like a good deed in a naughty world. What you stand for is truth in Christ, which will always be far outside the comfort zone for most.
I am sure your Bishop supports this Christian plea for forgiveness. No-one is yet asking deeper questions as to how or why this young man has emerged from a system which has had charge of him since childhood and has failed to turn him around.

georgem said...

PS The Argus website vote is running 62% to 38% in Fr's favour

Thomas said...

Fr Ray,I admire your courage to speak your mind and your compassion is sadly so misunderstood.
The Bishops would do well to follow your example in so many ways.
You have my prayers and support.

universal doctor said...

God Bless you Father, for speaking the truth with integrity and compassion, and helping us to face the challenges of this world.

Father John Boyle said...

Father Ray: your voice pierces the inexcusable silence. Be assured of my prayers. God bless you.

The Raven said...

Father,

I for one am very glad that you have the courage to say what we all wish that some of those hiding under their mitres would come out and say.

The people of Brighton are fortunate to have you and I am always grateful for the time and effort that you put onto writing your blog. My prayers are with you.

Thomas

Peter said...

Dear Father
You are trying to spread the word of Christ. If you get it wrong it is primarily for your bishop to correct you.
Your loyal readers do not agree with everything you say but I hope all will defend your right to say it and in most cases your duty to give the teaching of Christ.
Besides you are right to feel compassion for the guilty especially those who cannot put right what they have done wrong.
Good on you.
Peter

Physiocrat said...

Check your visitor numbers.

Today it will be announced that Gordon Brown will be doing something about the trains. Who does that remind you of?

Dominic Mary said...

There is, of course, an 'official agency' . . . it's called the Bishops; and it is their duty to address, promptly and unequivocally, any issues which require Catholic teaching to be stated. 'How long, O Lord, how long . . ?'

Fr Michael has it right, though : the media is just so much more interested in good headlines - contrition is never a good headline - 'The Bitch is in Hell' (which was what they used for Myra Hindley's death) is a sure seller !

Do keep right on, Fr Ray, and believe that there are many of us supporting you with our prayers and affection; and that what you are doing is important - and recognized by God.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I'm afraid I rather thought that post would create a media kerfuffle.

The trouble with blogs is that anyonen can read them and the posts can be sent far and wide. You must realise, father, that your blog is more influential than just the immediate circle of your parishioners and regular readers. It has become known as the number 2 priest blog in the UK, and as such will generate media exposure for you.

But never mind. The media think they are the whole world, and it never occurs to them to think that their work is not the be all and end all of what people think.

You did the proper pastoral thing. People may disagree, obviously will disagree, and the media may pay attention. But really, never mind it. Chalk it up to low-grade persecution and put it in the file for purgatory where it will come in handy, no doubt.

Pay no attention to the media. They're really not so very important as they think.

Take it from me.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Upon reflection, you might counter the criticism by pointing out that God calls everyone to repentance, and that being the perpetrator of a crime is a great deal worse in view of eternity than the victim of one. The calling of sinners to repentance: isn't that your job as a Catholic priest? And which sinner is going to respond to someone yelling at them? Not many.

Point out the fact that it is a requirement of charity, "compassion" as it is now called, to visit prisoners, people who are unequivocally guilty, and give them comfort.

And I'm no bleeding heart type, as you know.

Delia said...

Very well said.

I also marvel at the images you manage to find and choose for your posts - always so apt. How do you do it?

Crux Fidelis said...

Hilary said: "it is a requirement of charity, "compassion" as it is now called, to visit prisoners, people who are unequivocally guilty, and give them comfort."


One of the Seven Corporal Works of Mercy, as I recall.

RJ said...

Well done, Father. Keep up the good work.
Interesting to see how the newspapers quoted selectively to heighten the controversy.

georgem said...

To be fair, The Argus has now published my letter, even repeating my miscalculation of days in the year. I never was much good at figures. Duh