canadiancatholicbloggers.blogspot.com is dedicated to building a community for Catholic bloggers in Canada. Photo by Evan Boudreau

Catholic blogosphere is out there — and that’s a good thing

By 
  • March 10, 2012

OTTAWA - Colin Kerr used to believe Catholic bloggers in Canada were “a bunch of cranks.” But then he looked more closely and had to think again.

Kerr, an assistant professor of theology at Our Lady Seat of Wisdom Academy in Barry’s Bay, Ont., found more than 100 English- language blogs in his investigation of the Canadian Catholic blogosphere. They included blogs by bishops (Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith, Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast and Montreal Bishop Thomas Dowd), blogs by priests and religious, blogs by organizations such as the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Catholic Register and Salt + Light TV, blogs by homeschooling moms, blogs by pro-lifers, blogs on liturgy, theological reflections, parenthood and religious life inside a monastery.

What surprised him most was not the breadth of material, but the quality.

“These blogs were not narrowly political, angry or philistine,” he said. “They were well-written, by people who seemed to be alive in their faith, in their families, in their priestly and religious vocations.”

The father of five (who blogs at thetheologyofdad.blogspot.com) is the founder of the Society of Canadian Catholic Bloggers. It is a project he promotes as dedicated to building a community for Catholic bloggers in Canada. He has created a site (canadiancatholicbloggers.blogspot.com) that captures the postings of members in a constantly updated roll. He calls this “the most comprehensive list of Canadian Catholic blogs in the world.”

The Society’s blog roll gives Canadian Catholic personalities a chance to shine. Many posts are veritable gems of inspiration, beauty and encouragement.

It also includes some blogs that might make people angry or upset. When Kerr put the word out that he wanted to launch the Society, he laid down some general standards.

“I like a good debate,” he said. “Too many people want to stifle thought and expression these days. Sure, charity and respect are important, but there is a way to interpret even them too narrowly.”

So some of the blogs he includes might raise eyebrows.

“We’ll develop our Internet etiquette eventually,” he said. “It is a new forum. The thing is, acrimony is boring. People want good news, and I’d like to influence Canadian Catholic bloggers in that direction.”

Catholic blogs have been criticized for setting themselves up as an alternative magisterium and thus undercutting the authority of bishops as teachers. But Kerr said he did not find that.

“Not even the cockier ones presented themselves that way.”  

One site Kerr did not add immediately was Sylvia’s Site (theinquiry.ca/wordpress/), which focuses almost exclusively on documenting the clerical sexual abuse scandal in Canada. Blogger Sylvia MacEachern has developed data base on priestly abuse in Canada, with links to newspaper articles she has scanned from as far back as the 1980s.

“It makes for a hard read,” Kerr admits. “No one wants to read this kind of thing for itself. But I have to admit that love for the Church, love for the truth — which has to be the hallmark for every Catholic, especially every theologian — means looking in the face of evil at times.”

Kerr recognized the role blogs have played in breaking news on both sides of the border. He considers them a “boon to free speech.”  

But just as universities were supposed to be places for freedom of thought, the “PC thought police come along and begin to try and control what gets said there,” Kerr said. “We need to resist these forces. It is a Christian duty.”

But he admitted there are consequences to speaking one’s mind and one has to be ready for them.

“It’d be safer if I stopped blogging, but I need to be able to look at myself in the mirror too,” he said. “Jesus didn’t convert me so that I might live the safe life.”

Some people blog anonymously, “and there’s a place for that.” 

“But as a theologian I have a duty to live my doctrine publicly, otherwise I bring shame upon the Church. In this I find a great deal of inspiration from some great churchmen, like Archbishop Prendergast, or Fr. de Souza. ... This is true leadership for bloggers like me.”

Among the anonymous and controversial blogs Kerr includes in the Society is “The Heresy Hunter” (heresy-hunter.blogspot.com). Begun in 2009, and reaching a relatively small audience of about 200 regular readers, “The Heresy-Hunter” sometimes publishes lengthy posts that can add up to a dozen printed pages, complete with footnotes.

Kerr joked the author probably irons his jeans because of his attention to detail. But the posts reveal a writer well-versed in philosophy, theology and the personalities in the Canadian Church.

“I don’t think that he and I would ever be good friends were we to meet,” Kerr said.

“I’m not that intense. Just reading him exhausts me. But he is smart. So much of what he says is true.”

The Heresy-Hunter, who calls himself TH2, said he uses satire and his sometimes “outlandish” sense of  humour to “lighten” what are otherwise serious topics. He said mainstream Catholic media exhibit an “obliviousness to the modern crisis in Catholicism” and it has been “unable” or has refused to tackle issues of heresy because of connections with and income from the Catholic establishment.

Visit canadiancatholicbloggers.blogspot.com for a full list of all the blogs featured in this article.

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