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Temporary Comment Moratorium in Place


Some of you may have already noticed that comments on all of our posts are closed. This is not a glitch. I decided it was time for a break.

Just since May 1, our website has received 7,502 comments on 112 posts. That’s an average of almost 67 comments per post, though some have none and others have hundreds. Regular readers know that some comments are short, but others are as long as a blog post themselves.

And lately, as Pope Francis and his chosen advisers have deviated further and further from the duties of their offices, the comments have become increasingly inflammatory. Words like “antipope” and “heretic” are thrown around with great abandon. Words like “antichrist” show up less often. “Clown” is a favorite. I’m sure a word-cloud analysis of our comments would be telling.

We are all upset. We are all frustrated. We are all looking for answers. We look to Rome and we ask ourselves, “How could a pope be doing such things? How is it possible that a Vicar of Christ seems so intent on destroying Christ’s Church?”

I have considered, time and again, just ignoring the news. I’ve considered only publishing articles about what is good and true and beautiful in the Church. These are the things we all love about our Catholic Faith, and these are the things that draw us back to it no matter how frustrated we become.

But to ignore the invasion in our midst is a lie. I would never be able to live with myself if I pretended that all was well. If I talked to you about nothing but the beauty of the very things that are most under assault. It would be like staring lovingly at a photograph of my wife and children as they were savaged by men who broke into my home in the dead of night. Who can sit and do nothing? Who can allow it to go on without fighting back?

I want this to be a place of free discussion. I want it to be a place where we can work out the things that are going on. Where we can speculate and theorize and throw things against the wall. The kind of topics we cover here demand it.

But we need to recover our decorum a bit. We need to remember that for every comment left in anger or frustration, others are watching. Not only Catholics but non-Catholics. People considering joining the Church, and those who have recently done so and are experiencing regrets. Someone said to me today:

“While I find charity and clarity in your pieces, the comments can be harmful to those just opening their eyes to the reality of the crisis. I’ve not sent neophytes to your pieces in the past for fear of the harm potentially caused by some of the comments. For those just awakening to the mess, some comments can actually drive them to stick their heads even deeper into the sand.”

This problem extends to our reputation as a publication. People dismiss 1P5 out of hand because they’ve heard that we slander and malign the pope. Our readers — all of you — know the truth. We strive to be respectful but firm, to walk the line carefully, avoiding extremism but not shying away from the truth.

For my part, my time is best spent producing and managing our content. I often spend hours dealing with comments instead. Some readers complain that I’m too involved in the comment boxes. Others think I’m not involved enough. There’s no pleasing everyone.

This is why it was time for a break. A cooling off period so we could all stop and catch our breath. Things in our world right now are absolutely insane. But I don’t want us to be.

I have to consider finding help moderating comments, or not moderating them at all. I don’t want this to turn into Church Militant, but neither do I want it to be a vulgar free-for-all.

I’ll turn comments back on some time tomorrow, and we’ll try this again. But I’m asking everyone to take a deep breath and maybe say a quick prayer before posting. We’re now leading the conversation on the papacy and the crisis in the Church. We need to act the part.

UPDATE: Comments are now back on. Please use them wisely.

24 thoughts on “Temporary Comment Moratorium in Place”

  1. There are several possibilities. Moderate *all* comments, like some blogs do, and then dedicate a specific amount of time per day to deal with them. That will slow down the input and generally filter out the quick angry responses.
    Perhaps disqus has a feature where you can pass certain people and force moderation for all others. That way you could learn who is safe to leave unmoderated and it gives you time to moderate those you cannot yet or do not trust.
    Lastly, you could set a time limit for comments, say one week, and then the comments would automatically close, thus saving the review and filtering on older articles.

  2. With all due respect, are you suggesting that it is possible for a validly elected Pope to be fallible in regards to our Catholic Faith, and our Catholic morals?

    How can a validly elected Pope err in regards to our Catholic Faith and our Catholic morals without denying that which a Catholic must believe with Divine and Catholic Faith in order to remain in communion with Christ and His Church?

    • Yes. It is possible for a validly elected pope to be fallible in regards to our Catholic Faith and Morals when he is NOT exercising his teaching authority in a binding way, and is only expressing personal opinion or an informal manifestation of his papal magisterium.

      Or, for that matter, in discipline and governance.

      I have been consulting with some of my betters, both clerical and theological, and this is the explanation I have on the matter:

      – To convict a Pope of formal heresy is very difficult; and God wisely ordained it so, because otherwise the Church would be oftentimes ungovernable and would sink into chaos.

      – A formal heresy is a deliberate, stubborn and repeated denial of a revealed or dogmatically defined truth. A person is convicted of formal heresy if, when he has received the request to revoke his heretical affirmation, he nevertheless persists in it.

      – In most of the cases of greatest consternation, the pope makes his offending remarks in an interview or other non-binding way. An interview or an extemporaneous remark is not an official teachings of a pope.

      – Even in the case, which God forbid, the Pope would make a heretical affirmation in an official document, the bishops and the faithful must ask the Pope to issue an official interpretation of such an affirmation of him in order to be sure of his true intention and of a possible persistence of him in the error or in the heresy.

      This is the juridical process. I ran it up the chain of command all the way to a bishop.

          • The “Lavender Mafia” is extensive and permeates the entire Church- especially the West in the Latin rite. Although not every single bishop and priest is gay or practicing homosexuality, an overwhelming number remain sympathetic and supportive either directly or indirectly by not speaking out. I fear the situation inside the hierarchy will go beyond my lifetime before everything is all sorted out. My trust is in the Holy Spirit. He will make all things right and new. Until then, we continue to pray.

      • So, in other words, you give the Pope three strikes each time he opens his mouth to repeat his “error” so that we could feel safe in our condemnation of his words – which are extremely harmful each time? Might be wrong but I believe that it says “you will know them by the fruits”, not ” you will know them b their fruits, but except this season, which was bad”
        Commending restrain but must condemn the indifference cloaked as attempt at wisdom.

          • Heh heh… Kudos for masterful use of pointy thingy to pop someone’s bubble of complacency.
            You complained about the length of some comments. So I kept it short. And I was on my Blackberry, which doesn’t handle Disqus scripts well.
            But to explain: taking into account definition of heresy (I’ve stumbled on 1P5 somewhere… I think…) its stands to logical reason that cessation of persistence in contradiction to Church teaching is admission of error or retraction. We have seen neither form Francis on obliteration of souls not going to heaven, invalidity of my marriage nor confirming Lutheran Heresy, to name latest.
            EDIT: and now we’re back to my previous comment. So I’m now asking – having explained my mental shortcut – do we give the Pope benefit of the doubt each time he opens his mouth and we wait on him to either repeat his “error” so that we can safely call “three strikes on THAT ONE!!”? Or do we look at all the “errors” he made and not corrected (Vatican press office “correction” doesn’t count) and weight them all separately AND as a whole narrative?
            Being Catholic I’m called to be the witness to The Truth. Not only Trtuths of Faith and Church dogma. The Truth. In other words: calling spade a spade.

          • Look, it’s not that hard to make the case that he’s a material heretic, or that a natural reading, at least, of the things he says could lead one to understandings that would be considered materially heretical.

            But the burden of proof is somewhat higher. As I said above (and not all of those were my words, but some taken in consultation with my betters in the Church) it is difficult to convict a pope of heresy for a reason.

            He has to show himself to be an obdurate heretic before any proceeding could be taken to try to determine if (and since it’s basically unprecedented, it would likely be a time consuming and painful process) he has excommunicated himself. And then some sort of council would have to be called, etc. Many steps, none of them easy.

            But first he must be confronted by those in a position to do so. To have objections raised that he must take seriously so that he is forced to clarify or recant. I’d be happy to see that part of the process happen. I’m still waiting.

          • ” I’m still waiting.”

            That’s why I’m mentioning the indifference. Because it is real possibility that’s what it is, isn’t it?

            On the whole I’m getting where you come from and where you’re going. Really. But disagree on “burden of proof is somewhat higher” part in part at least. Francis is causing scandals in the Church of unprecedented scale and scope. Waiting on Bishops’ move to rectify that will not be counted as mitigation when it’s our time to be Judged. We were given brains for a reason

            Wanted to write ” But yes, we shall see…” but it would be somewhat stupid… But I guess jury is still out on this one.

          • Yes, I see where Steve is coming from too and I appreciate where he is going with this. And it’s great that Steve makes the effort and devotes so much precious time to bring out the nuances and multifaceted nature of the debates and the crisis. I think this has been extremely helpful to so many of us. So a big thanks to Steve! It also has to be said that Pope Francis is managing to spread heretical beliefs without explicitly teaching heresy. Isn’t this far more dangerous than a Pope who would come right out and “disqualify” himself by persisting in formal heresy? So, yes, I agree that “we were given brains for a reason”. It’s high time the cardinals presented Pope Francis with a formal request to “change course or resign”, as Chris Ferrara put it, and begin to heal the great damage that Francis has done to the Church.

          • “It also has to be said that Pope Francis is managing to spread heretical beliefs without explicitly teaching heresy. Isn’t this far more dangerous than a Pope who would come right out and “disqualify” himself by persisting in formal heresy?”

            This is a key point.

            Thank you, by the way, for your kindness. I just want to strike the right balance here. Too much is at stake to let ourselves be carried away.

          • Well, to borrow a quote from Yoda in Star Wars Revenge of the Sith: “At and end your rule is, if anything to say I have about it.”

          • Palpatine tells Yoda, “At last the Jedi are no more”

            To which Yoda responds, “Not if anything to say about it, I have.” And Force pushes the Emperor. THEN, he says “At an end your reign is, and not short enough it was!”

            Get your Star Wars quotes right!


          • Hey, cut me some slack! I’m married with a son and a one dog! Thanks, I knew I didn’t quite have the exact quote, but I was pretty close.

            May the Holy Spirit be with you!

          • Steve, what you say is absolutely correct. However, the proper ecclesiastical authority in the Church- namely, the College of Cardinals- will not do any of this. It is most unfortunate.

            However, under the provisions of JPII’s UDG, given what we now know and can substantiate all the facts involved, it is quite obvious that not only has Francis excommunicated himself, but also possesses no papal authority.

            By the way, the series of six articles sent to you by a very close friend of mine says much the same. You know, the one with over four hundred footnotes. I really wish you would reconsider publishing them on your website. Let the chips fall where they may. Let your readers draw their own conclusions. My friend’s articles do not espouse Sedevacantism in any way shape or form.

            In the words of Pope Saint John Paul II- “Be Not Afraid!”

      • What precludes The College of Cardinals from asking pope Francis, to define The Church’s Teaching in regards to The Sacrament of Marriage and sexual relationships outside of marriage?

  3. My confessor have some great advice concerning my over-consumption of media and getting angry at the news. Dial it back and spend more time in prayer and study and stop getting worked up about things I cannot change. All we can ready do is pray (more) that Pope Francis can take custody of his tongue, take a summer vacation to Castle Gandolfo, spend that time listening to the Holy Spirit, and come back renewed to speak and teach the truth.

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