I was speaking with my spiritual adviser earlier as a result of which I will be having a short blogging moratorium.

There are a few reasons for this, firstly I have three essays due in on the 10th January, secondly I am beginning to hit the exhaustion phase of early pregnancy whereby every muscle aches and yearns for rest and I’m downing the lucozade tablets for much needed energy and to keep going. Looking after 3 young children on my own in the week means I don’t have time to sleep, combine that with University work and I’m shattered.

One very unpleasant commentator suggested I am a dreadful mother who neglects her children, given the blog, but I tend to do my blogging when they are in bed, plus, I am an extraordinarily fast typist. Rest assured my children do not lack their mother’s attention.

I am also involved in another short-term personal project, that I cannot divulge, but which is proving spiritually draining, however it already seems to be bearing much fruit and a worthwhile use of my time.

I don’t therefore have the emotional energy to continue taking the constant attacks from others, both my husband and my advisor noted that I can’t be fighting on all fronts and I need to concentrate on my current short-term goals and suggested that the work I am currently doing needs to be prioritised.

I received a number of emails of support following my last two posts, from Catholic supporters with influence beyond the blogosphere, from past and present pro-life parliamentarians, newspaper columnists and heads of various organisations. All of them praised my “courage”, but to me there seemed nothing intrinsically brave about tapping out my opinion. My husband warned that I might have a hard time, but I was taken aback by some of the vociferous comments, a few of which were unnerving in nature. Having been exhorted to “take down your post and walk away, your friends aren’t helping”, then told “there will be repercussions”, I had rather an unsettled night. I subsequently woke up to a comment implying that I was peddling “a sack full of lies, half-truths, outright deceit and spin concerning Catholic teaching”.

All of this rather proves my point about a culture of fear. It seems to be acceptable for John Smeaton to blog his outrageous opinions and pronouncements upon others but not for others to respond. A few of my supporters asked me not to publically name them, a wish that I will respect, because as they said, they need to be above reproach and not enmesh their organisations in a personal feud. To get involved they said, would be in exactly the same error as John; it would conflate their views with that of their organisation, whereas I have more freedom, blogging purely as a private individual.

This is the joy of the blogosphere’s lack of regulation, it is a great equaliser and means people can be called to account. Let me be clear, if any Catholic blogger had decided to deride myself or my colleagues, I would have been equally hurt, I may have challenged in the comments box, but would probably have left it. The reason why I have taken issue is because John Smeaton’s blog is in his official capacity as SPUC Director, there is no comment facility and it is taken authoritatively. As some of my commenters have noted, he has sometimes not represented the full picture or has jumped to false conclusions on issues, alienating many in the process and sowing dissent amongst natural allies.

This is why i believe the hierarchy aren’t as keen on blogs as we bloggers. We are not all in full possession of the facts, I was not party to the discussions or expert advice presented to the Bishops in terms of the Liverpool Care Pathway and Connexions so I have to trust their judgement. Though there is room to ask whether or not certain things are wise, what is unfair is to allege that the Bishops’ Conference is intent on pro-life dissent. If any individual Bishop was in pro-life dissent, then they’d be out on their ear. As some of my commentators note, we cannot comment on the sensationalist stories we see reported, not being party to all the facts and nor can we present this as evidence of anything and then turn our fury upon others, without looking very foolish.

What is in danger of happening at the moment is the blogosphere is in danger of turning in on itself and becoming an ugly spectacle which I do not want to be a part of. It is doing nothing for the Kingdom or Catholicism as a whole. It is why so many are so wary about the Internet as a medium. There is a danger of treating blogs or things we read on the net as truth and being unnecessarily scandalised. As a private individual I can only ever speak for myself and not, unlike others, in an official capacity which would lend misleading authority.

My advisor reminded me to remember humility, you may know you are right, but you don’t have to jump up and down to prove it, think of the patient monk who waits 7-10 years silently carrying on, before he is shown to have been right all along.

My husband says “the problem is Caroline is that you write very reasonable, rational posts and expect everyone else to behave the same way. We know human nature is flawed and sinful and not everyone will respond as you would wish and be convinced, so you have to accept there’s a lot of unpleasantness out there.” As he says, the irony about all of this, is that I am an orthodox faithful practicing Catholic, one who is happy to sign up to the Catechism in its entirety, therefore the animosity is unfounded. One only needs to look at some of the abuse I’ve taken for blogging on the key issues, to realise that.

The bloggers hold onto the fact that they are able to hold others to account and swiftly disseminate information. This is all I have done. Democracy demands that we are able to freely and openly discuss concerns without fear of “repercussions”. Apparently SPUC is a Limited Company. I can understand that it may not be able to be a charity because it might not be able to adequately meet the Charities Commission test of “public benefit”. To see the accounts a Companies House search of SPUC Pro-life Limited needs to be made. Of course being a Limited Company, raises questions like who are the shareholders, are the profits reinvested and is a dividend paid? I haven’t the energy to investigate further, but I would like to know more before I donate money or encourage others to.

Whatever SPUC’s alleged successes in the EU or UN, there is still no significant UK progress. Their projects may well be worth Catholic support, but why do they claim to be more worthy of support than others, especially when their leader is preoccupied with attacking Catholic leaders and upsetting prolific and influential supporters(it goes without saying I do not include myself in that)? Why should a Catholic support an organisation whose leader seems to sow dissent and who inspires a response that has made me fearful? If SPUC feel that the Catholic hierarchy are ignoring their concerns and are not as pro-life as they should be, then they need to look at the bigger picture. Why is there a lack of a coherent pro-life movement in this country, unable to hold anyone in check? Why are SPUC marginalised? Who do they have to blame?

As I said, I am going to post one more entry and then have a short moratorium whilst I concentrate on essay work and other things, but I don’t regret opening this up for debate.

Amongst all the to and fro, Tyler, came up with the following comment as a wonderful New Year’s Day gift. This is what makes blogging worthwhile, in a beautiful twist of fate, in delicious irony, it is an interlocutor or “troll” who has motivated me to continue. The Lord does move in mysterious ways.

I’m not going to lie. I came here to troll all over your site, as I had held you in a fair bit of contempt, after being directed here through an angry friend’s link. However, I was unprepared for the unusual and surprising quality of your reasoning and logic, which was far from the usual, “the face in the sky commands us to do A, B, and C, while prohibiting E, F, and G” sort of religious blog. Therefore, I apologize, and after thinking carefully about it, I also apologize for the trolling I would have done, had your blog been less impressive, as what I was going to do was rather ridiculous anyway since,to put it mildly, and to insult you would have been rather immature, regardless of what I found here.

In addition to this, I feel I must point out that I obviously do not agree with all that is written here. As I am not a Strong Catholic, this is unsurprising, but I am not so naive as to fail to realize that not all Catholics are drones, mirroring and reflecting the same precise beliefs, and I realize that your reasoning is constructed in a way that is open to debate (if one has suitable facts and satisfactory mental facilities to engage in a reasonable disagreement in the comments section), which is a significant factor in the quality of your posts, as you have clear substance in what you write. Thus, while our principles are not necessarily on par with each other, I believe the respect in your blogging rises above that, and presents itself as valid and important opinion, despite what my own beliefs are.

So, I hope you keep writing. Perhaps I do not hope that people will take what you say as the absolute truth but, perhaps, I hope that people will consider and weigh in on what you write. Because, honestly, the best argument is constructed with knowledge on something you don’t like, and your blog, at the absolute least, is an exemplary argument for anyone, religious or not.

14 thoughts on “Moratorium

  1. I am sorry to hear you are taking a break but from a purely physical perspective I am glad. I am amazed at what you manage to get done as it is. I well remember the exhaustion of early pregnancy – I think you are wise to husband your strength.

    As for the commenter saying you are neglecting your children to blog – pshaw! I am replying here while stirring white sauce and keeping an ear out for the boys. Those who suggest such a thing either have no imagination or an interest in guilting you into silence, in my opinion.

    So all the very best, with essays and children and babies, and hope to talk with you elsewhere 🙂

  2. I’ve been dipping in and out of the goings and comings on your blog over the last few days and wondered how you managed it all, given your domestic circumstances. I salute your courageous and articulate stand for what you believe in. I know you say you’re only giving your opinion. I’m sorry that you have been on the end of some vociferous comments. I think they often come from people who are frustrated in some way or another that the world, the liturgy, an archbishop or whatever, has not conformed to their strict interpretation of the matter under discussion. The internet is the ‘wild west’ where even the Catholic blogosphere has become contaminated with the ‘shoot first’ culture. When I started my blog (which I think gets read by at least me) I had a number of comments that came from individuals in the Catholic Blogosphere that really put the boot in! Many of these individuals hide behind some sort of alias. Now I just pooter along posting my posts and only publising those comments that mostly agree with me! I’ll leave the real heavy lifting in the comments department to you 😉 I agree with you on some points and disagree with you on others. Now I must go as I have an essay to complete as well. At least it’s only one! Enjoy your time – out. Sometimes it’s good to detach and focus on what is most important. i’ll come back and engage with your blog at some stage. Brian

  3. It sounds as if you have made a good decision to focus on your family and your course at the moment. I hope you really enjoy both the essays and spending time with your wonderful children.

    I will miss your blog for the time you are taking a break.

    Are your essays on anything interesting?

  4. Caroline, it’s a case of ‘You can’t please all of the people, all of the time!’. Not everybody will agree with you, not everybody will like you…but in my Dutch upbringing we were taught to ‘put it down beside you’, all the comments and views of other people. You learnt to not put too much stock by what ANYONE thought, you put your worries and disappointments, and hurtful comments ‘down beside you’…where Jesus picks them up and nails them all to the cross! Only ever care what HE thinks, only that is truly important! {{{HUGS}}} and I’ll be praying for you and your family!

  5. Hi Caroline

    Regarding the ‘deceit, half-truths’ comment, you have taken my comment out of context. I wasn’t referring to you, (you are, after all, not a man) I was referring back to a comment saying that I look foolish for discussing Connexions and LCP and I wasn’t even referring to the person commenting.

    I was referring to the danger of CV spinning Catholicism so much that CV ends up by, say, contradicting the Magisterium of the Catholic Church, as they are now doing over CPs.

    I am at once sad that you are breaking from blogging, because of your obvious talent and service to the Church, but also glad for you, because every time someone criticises CV you seem to think everyone is criticising you and, as far as I know, the chief concerns of the ‘usual suspects’ is the direction of the CV project as a whole.

    In this sense you are taking far too much onto yourself and taking everything rather personally, now even comments that are not aimed at you at all. May the Lord grant you peace and serenity in your current distress. I, for one, am praying for you.


    1. Thank you for that Laurence, it is much appreciated. One of my many weaknesses is, I know, that I take comments far too personally and get far too emotionally overwrought which is why I am taking a short break. I saw your comment first thing this morning after a terrible night and the problem with the written form is that the general patterns of speech and body language are missing and so one only picks up on a general sentiment.

      I am really getting my hands dirty so to speak at the moment, which is obviously leaving me in an emotionally vulnerable state, but I did find it hard not to take John’s comments personally, and it was symptomatic of an attitude that does concern me. CV isn’t simply a corporate entity, we are a bureau of speakers and so John’s criticism about not being “real voices” felt very personalised. I did find other comments (not by you) really intimidating, perhaps not meant, but when you see a statement there in 140 characters, it’s hard to see beyond it. I know that I am not the only one who was a little unnerved, someone else having a similar sentiment directed at them. But enough of that.

      God bless.

  6. Caroline,

    I’ve been reading your blog over the last couple of months. You wrote that your husband says you are:

    “An orthodox faithful practicing Catholic, one who is happy to sign up to the Catechism in its entirety therefore the animosity is unfounded.”

    As an orthodox practicing Catholic animosity abounds! Don’t forget you are in a pretty small minority! If you look at the Catholic Church and then take out all the Catholics who don’t practice their faith, then the ones who don’t know their faith, the ones who think nothing of using contraception, the ones who support gay marriage, the ones who are pro-choice and finally the ones who don’t accept that:

    “the bishops have by divine institution taken the place of the apostles as pastors of the Church, in such wise that whoever listens to them is listening to Christ and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ.” CCC Para 862.

    you’re not left with very many!

    I read the Catholic Voices book and it seems to represent this small, but slowing growing, minority. I’m not suggesting anyone would want to literally ‘take out’ all those other Catholics from the church. We’re all sinners who journey and grow in faith and understanding together, but it’s good to hear the leaven in the dough speaking out!

    God bless

  7. Look forward to your return to blogging, but I’m sure you’re making the right decision to step back for a while. Commenting/blogging is an odd mixture: you get much of the thrill of a real, face to face encounter, but fewer of the possibilities that face to face encounters have of softening criticism or just introducing a bit of human kindness into a fraught debate.

    Anyway, just make sure you do come back!! I’ll miss the combination of careful analysis and the personal while you’re away.

  8. I am sorry but by stating:

    We are not all in full possession of the facts, I was not party to the discussions or expert advice presented to the Bishops in terms of the Liverpool Care Pathway and Connexions so I have to trust their judgement.

    … have now lost any moral authority in the Catholic Church that you had. For ANY Catholic both the Liverpool Care Pathway and the Connexions debacle are zero tolerance issues.

    THERE ARE NEVER ANY GREY AREAS (especially if you are an Archbishop/Bishop).

    I am sorry, but surely you must understand this?

    I am pleased that James Preece highlighted this.

    1. Mike

      Firstly I do not claim to have any moral authority.

      Secondly James Preece rang me last night & we had a productive discussion.

      James made it very clear in his post that he was not focussing upon personalities but words and therefore you have turned this into being about personalities.

      I suggest you read some of the comments by Joe.

      I have a copy of the latest draft of the LCP in my possession. It categorically does not suggest killing people by withdrawing nutrition and hydration. The LCP is a specific plan to be followed in the last few hours of life, not designed for days or weeks on end. The problem seems to be a misdiagnosis of terminal illness and the way in which a version of the plan may be applied in practice. It seems to me that targeting care and standards would be a better use of time. I can well understand why, in possession of expert medical knowledge drawn up by Catholic doctors and expert bio-medical ethicists, it was approved. Neither of us were party to these discussions therefore neither of us can state with any moral authority as John Smeaton does, that this is pro-life dissent.

      Now in the case of Connexions, I agree this would seem problematic, however my understanding is that Connexions must act in accordance with the Catholic ethos of a school. Any deviation is a matter for that school’s local governance. We have to remember that our Catholic schools are also state funded and perhaps they were under some legal constraints or obligations? As I said neither of us were party to the reasons behind the decision hence to assume automatic pro-life dissent assumes you know better. These are the matters of prudential judgement to which I referred and the facts of which we are not all aware.

      I suggest you tell my priest who agreed with me that the Bishops were not in pro-life dissent, that he has no moral authority either.

      I find the tone of your comment aggressive and uncharitable as I do this whole attitude that assumes dissent. This comment is symptomatic of those who have set themselves up as moral arbiters in the Church, ignoring that actually the Holy Spirit and the Grace of God may had a hand in the Papal appointment of our Bishops.

      Was there any need for you to be quite so rude and make this personal, when it is clear that I wish to distance myself from aggression such as this. I suggest you re-read James Preece who was very clear he did not want this to be personal and phoned to apologise had he caused any upset or picked on me. He realised that he had been inadvertently aggressive.James is fundamentally a decent and good man. I don’t think he’d necessarily agree with your comment or its tone.

  9. hi, blondpidge i did not need a copy of the l c p i have witnessed it with not one but two relatives both were sedated and morphined to death in two weeks not hours or days but weeks, its back door euthanasia okay to save the bed blocking and blood money, its a sacralidge to society, i am of roman catholic religion, and this l c p is an act against god it is murder in the eyes of our lord.

  10. the liverpool so called care pathway does not obay the words of jesus christ, which are thou shall not kill, it may be okay for a non religous person such as an athiest person who do not have any faith in life.

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