English bishop silences conservative deacon's blog
May 02, 2014
Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster, England, has shut down a popular blog authored by a deacon the diocese.
Deacon Nick Donnelly had set up the “Protect the Pope” blog in response to media criticism of Pope Benedict XVI prior to that Pontiff’s visit to Britain. The blog, strongly upholding Church teachings, had established a loyal following. But in March, Deacon Donnelly announced that he would no longer write for the blog, because the bishop had asked him to “undergo a period of prayer and reflection.” Martina Donnelly, his wife, continued posting on Protect the Pope for a few weeks, but announced on April 29 that the bishop “stated that he does not want anyone posting on Protect the Pope on Nick’s behalf.” “I am sad and disappointed that Bishop Campbell will not give his permission for me to return to running and posting on Protect the Pope,” Deacon Donnelly said, insisting that he had used the blog only to defend the Catholic faith. But he would obey the bishop’s order, he told the Catholic Herald.
Bishop Campbell, in his own statement, denied that he had shut down the blog. But he voiced concern about the possible perception that “Deacon Nick Donnelly is somehow reporting the views of the diocese.” He said that clerics are free to express their own personal opinions in public, but “never in a way that divides the community of the Church, ie through ad hominem and personal challenges.” The bishop said that he thought the Protect the Pope blog had taken that approach, or stimulated others to do so.