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Bishop-bashing, selectively denounced

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 21, 2012

First Father Tom Reese announced that conservative clerics are too free with their opinions:

These days, arch-conservative priests feel much more comfortable attacking their bishops than do liberals because they feel they’ll get support from conservative Catholic blogs and maybe some in the Vatican.

Leave aside the question of how conservative bloggers can protect priests from the wrath of their bishops. Leave aside the question of how many bloggers there are in the Vatican. What fascinates me is that this statement comes from the same Father Tom Reese, who has been criticizing the hierarchy for decades. Suddenly he’s worried about attacks on bishops?

Then Michael Sean Winters professed his shock that “most of the truly vile, nasty attacks on the hierarchy come not from the left but from the right.” Winters writes regularly for the National Catholic Reporter, which offers a hearty dose of vitriol against bishops every week.

The lesson, I suppose, is that when I find fault with bishops it’s reasoned criticism, and when you do it it’s a nasty attack.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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