Go to this page of the Middlesbrough Dicesan website and before you can access this page you will get this:
By using this Diocese of Middlesbrough website you agree to be legally bound our Terms and Conditions, which shall take effect immediately on your first use of the site. If you do not agree to be legally bound by all the following terms please do not access and/or use this Diocese of Middlesbrough website. The Diocese of Middlesbrough may change these terms at any time by posting changes online. Please review these terms regularly to ensure you are aware of any changes made by the Diocese of Middlesbrough. Your continued use of the site after changes are posted means you agree to be legally bound by these terms as updated and/or amended.You will have to agree to the terms and conditions before you can view anything. Mulier Fortis says that it is all the fault of one James Preece. I know James can be crass, sometimes he get things amazingly wrong. I have priest friends in the Middlesbrough diocese who spit nails at the mention of his name, if I lived in the diocese or was a regular visitor of his blog I might share their feelings. He is an irritating gadfly on the rump of the body politic, the type of person who delights in puncturing the vanity of cosy contemporary churchiness.
But what is it about the Catholic Church in this country that seems to embrace dissent at every level and yet refuses to allow free and open debate, theology is an open field; Catholics can debate as much as they like women's ordination, even propose abortion but ask questions about structures, management, policy, cosying up to governments then pressure will be brought to bear. I think James' wife was asked to distance herself from him in order to take part in some Catholic activity.
What is so terrible about a few questions, a little scrutiny, even some ridicule?
The abuse crisis, as the UK Ambassador to the Holy See, Francis Campbell, said is not so much about abuse in the Catholic Church, which is on a par with any other strata in society, "it is about cover-up". It is cover-up that has virtually destroyed the Church in Ireland and maybe has finally crushed the Belgium Church.
The Gospel is about Truth. Until the Church can be open to scrutiny, the Gospel will always evade its grasp, it will always be regarded as having nothing to offer our society, as being too hypocritical to the point even of having no place in the discussion. Truth and humility go hand in hand, as does Holiness and transparency, even being willing to accept humiliations for the sake of the Truth or disclosure and scrutiny for the sake of Holiness. If we don't embrace humility and transparency God will force these things on his Church.
There is a fear at the heart of the Church in our country, not of God but of being discovered to have form but no substance.
One important aspect of the blogosphere is that occassionally it discomforts the comfortable, a bit like John the Baptist, or the prophets, or those mad hermits who came in to the city to upset the complacent clergy and confront vainglorious bishops. We needed them in the past, today we have even more need of them.