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As bad as Borat?

He'd been quiet for a while, but recently Ur-Diogenes over at Off the Record, the blog of Catholic World News, has gotten back on the horse. (We've discussed him before here and here.) Seemingly brought out of hibernation by the midterm elections (Ur-Diogenes is nothing if not deeply interested in how Catholicism features in U.S. politics), he's really been on a roll lately, letting fly all manner of rhetorical barbs, aimed high and low. And I mean very low. Have a look.

First, read the captions under the pictures in this post. Then click here for his enlightening response to the USCCB's recent statement on ministry to homosexuals. (Flashback: this post was pretty classy, too.)

I wonder if any U.S. bishops donate to Catholic World News.

About the Author

Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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The blogging world is infinitely better with Uncle Di at the helm. Yes, his comments can be harsh sometimes, but they're nearly always true. At least he is faithful to the Church's teachings, unlike many writers of a certain "Catholic" magazine....

Harsh is fine. Unchristian and uncharitable are not. Since when does being Catholic mean that you shouldn't be Christian? When was charity taken out of Christianity? I guess I must have missed that encyclical.

My first reaction to this was that Diogenes's approacj was so iditic it should not evenb be graced with a thread.RH's comment however is so devoid of any pastoral insight that one wonders where the Church is headed to. There is an ugly smarminess in all this and any support of that seems quite uncharitable - not to mention the snarky remarks about one's superior Catholicism.

My friend Diogenes has been called unchristian. Are there matters on which she is in dogmatic error?Is the net effect of her column to strengthen Catholic teaching or to leave it ever so slightly weakened?It is true that she can't help herself sometimes. But there are moments of inspiring clarity. The column on Rowan Williams and priestesses, for example, was the only Catholic response that raised the primary theological question.

The anonymous leading the anonymous. Are you saying you know who Diogenes is, and that Diogenes is a woman? HIghly unlikely, but it is at least an amusing shot at deceiving dotCommonweal's readership. Phil Lawler claims several people write under the pseudonym. This may have been made technically true (the posts that appeared in the days after we speculated about his real identity here were decidedly different), but the vast majority of posts signed "Diogenes" have a distinctive, persistent voice, tend to deploy the same vocabulary, sometimes referring to his time spent in Italy, or on Alitalia flights, and take up the same subjects, over and over again.

mlj - Domatic error is not the test. "If ... I understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing." Normative Christianity is "be compassionate as God is compassionate."

The Diogenes posts worth discussing are always from the same person. They are easily detectable.Yes, I know who Diogenes is. I had Thai food with her somewhat recently. Sorry I can't say more. I'm surprised how long the question has remained open. I only wish my knowledge of secret world affairs wasn't limited to worthless bits of RC gossip...

Perhaps, then, you can explain why he is constantly referring to himself as "Uncle Di." You can see why I have no reason to believe what you have to say about the identity of Diogenes.

>>Perhaps, then, you can explain why he is constantly referring to himself as "Uncle Di." You can see why I have no reason to believe what you have to say about the identity of Diogenes.<

Well, now it's clear why you're so reluctant to use your name: you're from the future. What else is on the horizon? Do tell.Yes, "Georgetown Catholic," "Madonna artist," "mlj an althete." Clever enough, but a dodge. Have you ever pretended to be a woman--repeatedly? In writing? Over the course of several years?

>>Have you ever pretended to be a woman...over the course of several years?"Yes. It's going on 5 decades now. No, I'm not Elton John.>>What else is on the horizon? Do tell.<

James Martin, S.J.:You wrote: " I guess I must have missed that encyclical. "You didn't miss the encyclical, you just didn't understand it. Charity also includes judgment and correction, as the encyclical clearly indicated. I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a Jesuit wouldn't understand that.

A new nadir of uncharitable comment, Janice, especially the last sentence. Does the end justify the means in your efforts to create a Puritan form of Catholicism?

Janice,You are not abiding by the rules of this site.Unflattering generalizations are to be used exclusively to depict those with agendas different from Commonweal's. With the right target your "uncharitable" comments can become "prophetic." Indeed, with practice you may ultimatley "speak truth to power."I also recommend, Janice, that you have two vodka and tonics before you read Commonweal's Dec. 1 editorial on human sexuality.

Mr. Collier,A little puritanism wouldn't be out of place in American Catholicism, especially given the last 40 years of the "spirit of Vatican II" that folks such as some of the liberal Catholic bloggers and columnists have given us.By the way, if you think my last comment was the "nadir" of uncharitableness, you should see some of my comments on other blogs.

Mr. Collier,By the way, I am in very good company in my efforts to create a Puritan form of Catholicism. Ever hear of Pope Benedict XVI?

Mr. Collier,The actual word you're looking for, I believe, is not Puritan, but purify. Pope Benedict is looking for a purified Catholicism, to replace the sorry product of 40 years of self-indulgent navel-gazing that followed the misrepretation of Vatican II. I and many others subscribe to Pope Benedict's vision completely. We want a truly counter-cultural Catholicism that does not accommodate the culture to the point where no one can tell the difference between Catholics and the secular culture.

Janice,You are bringing a harsh secular discourse into a Catholic domain, and that should not happen. It's bad enough that we are witnessing the "Coulterization" of the culture of the secular right, but do we need to mimic these tactics when it comes to the Church? For that is what this Diogenes character is doing, and you have a tendency to veer in this direction also with quips about "liberals" (a purely secular term) and Jesuits (God help us all). There's plenty of space for argument about using these tactics.

Hmm, I think I have heard of BXVI on at least one or two occasions, and on the whole I have been impressed by how he has assumed the mantle of the difficulty responsibilty he has to guide the whole Church, not to favor so-called Commonweal Catholics over First Things Catholics or vice versa. His outreach to his old friend and adversary, Hans Kung, was impressive, as was the topic he chose for his first encyclical. It's hard to quibble and in-fight about God being love. If some progressive Catholics aren't completely satisfied with BXVI, then I think it's fair to say that some orthodox Catholics aren't either. Perhaps some dissatisfaction in both camps is a good thing.My primary objections to your comment about Fr. Martin's post were the ad hominem nature of the comment, and your generalization that Jesuits are somehow less than fully Catholic. In the interest of full disclosure, I'll say that I had eight years of education in Jesuit institutions (and schooling by Dominicans and Franciscans, too), and I therefore had the opportunity to meet and be instructed by many Jesuits. Like any group, religious or secular, they can't be grouped into one mindset, whether it's about politics, religion, or even the weather. Some of my Jesuit teachers were great, and some not so great, but that was entirely a function of their respective teaching abilities. What I can say, however, is that almost without fail, every Jesuit teacher I had made me think. I was taught that faith and reason, in all of their subtleties and power, go hand in hand and are in no way mutually opposed. Both are gifts I cherish.

I often wonder how far the Janice's of the world would go to craft a "truly counter-cultural Catholicism". Are there any limits to what someone with such a rigid approach would do to "purify" other Catholics? How about non-Catholics?At what point would a Janice-type person back off and agree to pray for someone's soul while letting God work his will in them? Or is there no option for that? Clearly, respectful discourse is now deemed to be not worth the effort as it smacks of capitulation and we certainly can't make that mistake. Do the religious zealots we've witnessed in other parts of the world have the right methods, but the wrong religion? Is that considered part of Pope Benedict's vision?

The really ironic--and, at least to me, amusing--thing about the family squabbling and nose-bloodying among Catholics as to who are the elect and most righteous among us is that non-Catholics, atheists, etc. must either (1) think we're nuts, or (2) be enjoying the spectacle as they would gladiators in the arena sparring for their entertainment.

All of this stems from the uncharitable (to say the least) comments of Diogenes."If I have faith that can move mountains, but have not love (charity), I am nothing."There's a lot of nothing out there it seems; the approach of BXVI is marked with respect for those he approaches -not so here.Instead a juvenile almost childish talk down freom some who think they know better. And then they mock "Commonweal Catholics."

The squabbles may appear ugly to some, but to others they are necessary and concern fundamentals of the faith.Take the most recent Commonweal editorial. It is an attack upon Christian anthropology and, if pressed to its logical conclusion, a sacrament of the Church. Is it good that we muddy ourselves in debating this? It is certainly better than being indifferent on the matter.What if we just limited ourselves to quoting Paul's exhortations?

mlj wrote: My friend Diogenes has been called unchristian. Are there matters on which she is in dogmatic error?Is the net effect of her column to strengthen Catholic teaching or to leave it ever so slightly weakened?Jean: Of COURSE Diogenes weakens the teachings of the Church. By pretending to be a Catholic, and then turning around and attacking people personally, putting them in a false light, passing off speculation as truth, and (my favorite) dressing up in vestments with flames to show how Church leaders are in league with the Devil--all that mocks church teachings of charity, kindness, loving your neighbor, and not bearing false witness.I can only assume that Diogenes believes that sins with the aim of purifying the Church of all us Commonweal Catholics are forgiveable.I'm simply sorry for the poor soul and the dupes who think he's witty and wise.

Okay, let's take the Commonweal editorial. I read it. I disagree with some of the writer's comments, although I did understand the overall point which is the suggestion that more might be gained if the Church actually answered the questions the laity have about homosexuality and birth control rather than simply braining them over the head with the rulebook.I didn't see it as an attack on Christian anthropology and see no logical conclusion that it should be considered an attack on any of the Church's sacraments.I recognize it first and foremost for what it is - personal opinions expressed by the editors. Something to which they are entitled as you are entitled to yours. None of you is setting Church doctrine and the writers of the editorial did not present the commentary as being anything more than what it was - an opinion piece.In fact, I think the editorial highlights the fundamental conflict. If someone identifies themselves as Catholic and expresses doubts, or asks questions, or holds a personal opinion contrary to Church teaching, that is now interpreted as an opportunity for a smackdown. Any wobbling on anyone's part is seen as a definitive effort to undermine Church teaching. I don't see it that way. I see the questioning, the doubting, the contrary opinions as all part of the learning process. All part of every human's quest to understand God. And the main point of the editorial is to say that if the Church has answers to the questions, then taking the time to explain those answers again and again until people understand what's being taught is far better than answering with "because I said so".I can disagree with this editorial without calling anyone names, or denouncing them as non-Catholics, or heathens or *gasp* liberals! More importantly, I can disagree with this editorial in a way that invites further discussion because the more discussion there is, the more opportunity to teach.

mlj--I'm betting everyone who posts here has no problem with discussing and debating fundamentals of the faith. The problem comes when we (and I certainly include myself) move the focus from the issue itself to the religious bona fides of the posters involved. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm primarily here to learn. In the relatively short time this blog has been operational, I've learned a lot, from posters who represent a wide spectrum of points of view. And I'm impressed you know M. Robinson. ;)

>>And I'm impressed you know M. Robinson.<

Wait, is she Diogenes?

>>Wait, is she Diogenes?<

Well, if Diogenes is a woman - the voice is not that of a woman that's for sure - then I suppose he is less like an "Uncle Di" and more like a "Mommy Dearest" insanely screaming at her daughter for putting her expensive dresses on wire hangers. Ah, but Joan Crawford, like "Uncle Di," was just engaging in one of the traditional works of mercy - instructing the ignorant and converting the sinners, wasn't she? True "teachable moments" for the daughter's (and our) edification.In all seriousness, Diogenes' theological road-rage cannot be truly nourishing for the soul. Even, when he is correct, Diogenes' poison-pen does not correct a single abuse that he decries, does not convert one sinner, does not make one bishop more competent, but does jack up the emotions of highly strung people. If Diogenes is who I think it is, he would serve the Church - and the causes which he supports - much better by faithfully carrying out his duties where God and his superior has placed him, rather than writing late nite screeds on a blog.

Regrettable that this excellent editorial has to appear as a footnote on this thread, I agree with it completely.Especially the point that there would be no Catholics if one is saying that the 95% of Catholics who practice contraception are not.I also strongly support the point that the far right conservatives (wonder who that is?) militate for, namely, that the bishops should press the issue on contraception. Not make a 'truce" over it.It would place honesty (and a lot of money) on the table and a real church may emerge from it.

It's sad to hear that some think it's OK to be ugly in presenting the faith (ugly being a kind word for uncharitable.) I think BXVI and even JPII would disagree with that.See the coments on the bisjhops documents earlier in November -ckearly their effort was ugly (i.e. simplictic and unlistening.)But to the "pure" of the Church I guess that's meaningless.

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