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Open to Discussion?

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Oct 05, 2010

“I look forward to the day when you have the courage to open up discussions on your website.” We get this sort of comment from time to time, almost always from those who do not accept the teachings of the Catholic Church. This particular quote was the closing of a long and irate message lambasting us for having an article critical of in vitro fertilization in our library.

Of course, if it were a matter of courage, I’d hide my email address. But I find that those who would love to rip into Catholic ideas and criticize others for their fidelity to Church teaching often play the courage card when they find that they aren’t admitted to the discussion.

I’m going to be perfectly frank about this. People who love the Church, take their Faith seriously, and follow the Pope have very few places where they can read and exchange Catholic ideas without being subject to attack. On almost any news and commentary site out there, they’ll have no problem finding anti-Catholic comments, arguments and slurs.

Sorry, not here. Visitors who wish to rant against the Church or her teachings are free to contact the editors by email. I’m tempted to charge the hostiles a consulting fee, but if a correspondent sounds as if he or she would like to understand an issue more fully, I’ll always answer if time permits. (I find my courage is not strained to the breaking point by reading and answering email.) But what most often infuriates those who want to attack the Catholic positions we uphold is not that they cannot comment, but that they cannot publish their comments on the web site they wish to attack.

At CatholicCulture.org we guard against unwelcome public comments in two ways. First, we restrict public comment to donors. It only costs five dollars a year to be classified as a “current donor” so that you’re eligible to make Sound Off! comments. This sometimes annoys good people who are flat broke and, curiously, it also sometimes annoys those who have inexplicably come to believe that their speech should not only be free but published on somebody else’s dime. But mostly it just upsets visitors who want to take the Church down a peg. And what we’ve found is simply this: Those who don’t have honorable motives won’t ante up their five bucks to get in the game. Over the last fifteen years, I can count the exceptions on one hand.

The fact that comments are restricted to donors reduces our editorial burden tremendously. This is because the second way we keep our guard up is to screen all comments. As a service to our readers, we make public only those remarks that are intelligible, courteous, within Catholic bounds, non-repetitive, and relevant. Most comments that don’t make it through fail only on one of the last two points.

We take these precautions because we want CatholicCulture.org to be a place Catholics can visit without having to cover their eyes, defend the Church against attack, or read ignorant drivel. We also want it to be a place non-Catholics can visit to investigate Catholicism quietly, seriously and in a supportive culture. For these reasons, visitors who want to bash the Church and her teachings, whether they claim to be Catholic or not, will never be published on our web site.

Now here's one final point, and you can take it to the bank: In every situation short of Heaven, in one way or another, somebody will get the fuzzy end of the lollipop. On CatholicCulture.org, it is not going to be those who are sincerely trying to learn and live the Catholic Faith.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

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Show 19 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 08, 2010 3:34 AM ET USA

    The Novus Ordo is remarkable in its coincidence with wide-ranging statistical declines. Perhaps an anomaly. Nonetheless, the recent "corrections" of the translation errors noted for decades by many of us in the face of dismissive Catholic peers does little to reassure. Nor does the Motu Proprio which again affirmed the traditional position on the legal status of the Old Mass. There are "wolves" among the shepherds who wish to destroy the Church. God bless our Pope who has stood up to them.

  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Oct. 06, 2010 5:32 PM ET USA

    I appreciate all these comments. I'd also like to point out that pulchravera5696's criticism is overstated. We have no objection to arguments and suggestions for the improvement of the Novus Ordo; we have such materials in our library. But we will not accept disrespect toward any liturgy approved by the Church, nor baseless assertions that such a liturgy is invalid, was developed by those who wish to destroy the Church, or is preferred only by those who are not fully Catholic.

  • Posted by: GymK - Oct. 06, 2010 4:21 PM ET USA

    AMEN! Stay with this policy and you will keep the true Catholic participants who use and love this site.

  • Posted by: Ramblescram7093 - Oct. 06, 2010 3:53 PM ET USA

    I have never thought about the matter until now, but after reading your explanation, I find C.C.'s comment policy to be both prudent and loving. I am glad that you took the time to write about this, as clarifying something which goes unseen can sometimes evoke gratitude from those who benefit from the hidden struggle. It certainly has for me. Truly, thank you and God Bless.

  • Posted by: monemur - Oct. 06, 2010 3:39 PM ET USA

    Thank you for pointing this out. Those who have true courage are the ones who defend Church teaching. Your critics' worldview and Church view, if they listed what they really believed regarding faith and morals, fall under the category of liberal Protestant. But they lack the courage to be good protestants. As Fr. Z opined, perhaps the Anglicans can counter B XVI's Anglicanorum Coetibus with Romanum Coetibus, giving the liberals the path to their true home.

  • Posted by: rondamom1691 - Oct. 06, 2010 3:27 PM ET USA

    Thank you for this policy. This is one of my "safe havens" from cafeteria Catholics and others who question The Faith. Even my own teens (and I homeschool) are challenging me constantly on Catholic teachings, and frankly, I get tired, not of them, but just plain tired. Here, I can get updates, learn, be amused, etc., without having to defend all that I hold dear.

  • Posted by: pulchravera5696 - Oct. 06, 2010 2:53 PM ET USA

    This is all well and good, except when the censors of this site confuse respectful criticism for anti-Catholic argumentation. To maintain, for example, that the ordinary form of the Mass as promulgated needs a drastic overhaul is not incompatible with being a Catholic in good standing. This site can't abide such criticism, which is why I have become niggardly in my financial support of this site.

  • Posted by: Universal - Oct. 06, 2010 10:03 AM ET USA

    This is EXACTLY why we enjoy CC so much. Because we can get to the depth of the matters here. The depth of truth. And not be harassed - like we are all-day (and that is okay) by intentional or un-intentional misunderstandings and bad faith. Thank you Jeff, Peter, Phil and so on. And God bless you. I keep CC in my prayers regularly.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Oct. 06, 2010 9:39 AM ET USA

    I remember defending the Holy Father's refusal to allow ordination of women in a religious history class at a secular university. The woman had apostacized in order to be "eligible" for ordination. Finally the non-Catholic professor intervened to reiterate that certain Catholic teachings cannot be reversed by man. Intellectual pursuit of Truth requires not only the courage to seek, but the courage and docility to accept those truths that transcend the human "arena of ideas." Truth matters.

  • Posted by: rdennehy8049 - Oct. 06, 2010 5:45 AM ET USA

    Excellent. Though I am not one of your larger contributors, this is why I contribute. As my Dad used to say "I know what I am reading is Gospel". God bless you.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 06, 2010 5:08 AM ET USA

    I thank God and thank you for this faithful diligence. Bless you.

  • Posted by: wyndella - Oct. 06, 2010 4:48 AM ET USA

    Well said Jeff! I only wish other Catholic organisations showed such common sense. I can think of a diocesan magazine or two and other groups which might benefit from sound editorial policies. Can't name them of course because they'd probably threaten to sue: like they did last time.

  • Posted by: umpynelson3459 - Oct. 06, 2010 12:00 AM ET USA

    way to go Jeff, you tell'em....

  • Posted by: mamsd9487 - Oct. 05, 2010 11:44 PM ET USA

    Bravo! I'm tired of trolling comments to Catholic sites, that, obviously from their rhetoric, have no idea what the Catholic teaching/position is but usually want to expound their (usually) anti-life views. I think they find the sites by search engine.

  • Posted by: bnewman - Oct. 05, 2010 11:12 PM ET USA

    I agree totally. The orthodox Catholic position can only be put forward and discussed sensibly in a few places and this is one of them. We can hear the un-orthodox position in many places and besides that we know it already. It is boring. Please do not change a thing.

  • Posted by: raynearhood3144 - Oct. 05, 2010 9:36 PM ET USA

    A most reasonable explanation and clarification. Thank you.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Oct. 05, 2010 8:54 PM ET USA

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • Posted by: Defender - Oct. 05, 2010 8:37 PM ET USA

    I'm glad you have this standard. Far too often, in other sites, you read (or really just scan because you've heard it before) a long diatribe against the Church and you are made to feel surrounded by the many (far too many) who say they are Catholic but write as if they are Protestant or whatever. Part of this problem is that they think of the Church as "American Catholic" instead of the universal Church - as if it is a democracy and we all get to vote on everything. Thanks!

  • Posted by: Justin8110 - Oct. 05, 2010 6:05 PM ET USA

    I find it refreshing that the message boards here aren't a bunch of hateful vitriol. I can just imagine how bad it would get if you allowed a free space for all that venom.

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