The Tablet thinks Catholic blogs are responsible for CDF acting against Tina Beattie

In the week that saw the news break that the CDF had instructed Bishop Lang to cancel his invitation to Prof. Tina Beattie to speak in his diocese Catherine Pepinster has launched an hysterical attack on Catholics blogs. The editor of The Tablet obviously believes that Catholic blogs are responsible for  supplying information that led to the CDF taking action against her fellow Tablet Director. Pepinster wrote:

‘Nasty, unChristian remarks abound within the Catholic world. No wonder one Catholic journalist says he won’t read the most vicious sites of the Catholic blogosphere anymore: he views them as an occasion of sin. But what’s worrying is that Rome is apparently keen to read them too. The Vatican itself has become adept at using new media – check out Youtube, its tweets, its websites – realising the power of these twenty-first century opinion formers. The word is that Vatican officials are gleaning much of their knowledge of the Church beyond Rome from blogs, including those that have made spite their signature dish.

If we have reached a stage when Rome’s views are shaped by bloggers’ vitriol rather than the opinions of its nuncios and its bishops, let alone sounding out the people in the pews who pray and pay, then something deeply distorted is developing. It’s certainly no way for Rome to learn to talk human’. (p.5 15 September 2012).

Protect the Pope comment: It’s well known that Ms Pepinster and The Tablet have a particular animus against loyal and faithful Catholic bloggers. Those who dare name and challenge dissenters and their dissent are accused of  ’nasty, unChristian remarks’.  She contrasts the vitriolic bloggers with the ‘people in the pews who pray and pay’, ignoring the fact that many of the blogs she condemns are written by lay men and women in the pews who ‘pray and pay’.

The gall of the woman who can write about the Holy See that’ something deeply distorted is developing’ while at the same time being the editor who published Prof’ Beattie’s article using the doctrine of the Trinity to justify abortion and her article using the doctrine of Christ’s marriage to the Church to justify homosexual marriage. Rather it is Pepinster’s editorship of The Tablet that is ‘something deeply distorted’. A woman who can allow to publish in a Catholic journal the following paragraph written by Tina Beattie has forgotten the meaning of the sanctity of the Most Holy Trinity and the dignity of the human person:

‘Given that in Christian theology the understanding of personhood is fundamentally relational because it bears the image of the Triune God, it is hard to see how an embryo can be deemed a person before even the mother enters into a rudimentary relationship with it. As many as one in four pregnancies may spontaneously abort during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, often without the woman knowing that she was pregnant. As some Catholic ethicists point out, the logical corollary of this position is that a woman should baptise every menstrual period – just in case.’

Paraphrasing Pepinster, it’s certainly no way for The Tablet to learn to talk human.

See previous post: Concerning Prof. Tina Beattie, Catholic, theologian, pro-abortion,and pro-gay marriage



22 comments to The Tablet thinks Catholic blogs are responsible for CDF acting against Tina Beattie

  • Yes, that’s a shameful paragraph from Beattie, and Pepinster should never have published it. Have neither of them ever meditated on the first two Joyful Mysteries?

  • John

    I was delighted that Bishop Lang cancelled Beattie’s talk. The woman is a disgrace and I do wish she would stop calling herself a ‘Catholic theologian’. Of course, she has now achieved the final goal of every dissident Catholic: to be censured by the CDF!

  • Jonathan Marshall

    Well said, Deacon Nick. I must say, however, that I was disappointed to learn that the CDF had instructed Bishop Lang (the bishop of my diocese) to cancel this dissident’s talk – I thought he had done so of his own accord, and saw it as a sign of hope.

    “Rome’s views”, despite Ms Pepinster’s ridiculous diatribe, are not “shaped by bloggers’ vitriol”; they are shaped by the Magisterium of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. The Tablet’s views clearly are not.

    How much longer can this dissident publication be allowed to call itself Catholic?

  • El Nino

    One of the unexpected benefits of the Papal Visit to the UK was the upsurge in blogs (i.e self-publishing) from Catholic clergy. The ordinary Catholic laity could find out just how conservative the clergy in England, certainly compared to their bishops.

    Furthermore, the mainstream media is being bypassed by new media. No longer can they act as “gatekeepers”. See recent events in the Middle East for confirmation of that.

    So, the Tabletistas are having a hissy fit that their influence has been eclipsed?

    Boo hoo!

  • Veritas

    Given The Tablet’s track record over recent years, Ms Pepinster must be an expert on nasty unChristian remarks. But on 15th August this year to celebrate the Feast of the Assumpion she wrote an article in The Guardian about The Vatileaks saga – which she described as a scandal.

    1. In her attack on the Vatican she complained that Paolo Gabriele had been placed in solitary confinement “in a cell deep inside the Vatican” (which made it sound as if his “cell” was located in the crypt of St Peters amongst the Papal tombs).

    However other journalists pointed out that the only way the Vatican could ameliorate this situation would be to imprison innocent people to keep Mr Gabriele company.

    2. Despite complaining in the past about nasty, intolerent, right-wing Catholics shopping theologians to the Congregation for Doctrine and the Faith, with typical modesty she stated that “my publication, the Tablet” had shopped the Pope to Amnesty International about this “scandal”. But strangely Amnesty International had nothing to say and apparently declined to issue an arrest warrent for the Pope.

    3. Nevertheless she published an article in The Tablet by the LSE’s Prof Conor Gearty attacking the Vatican for this outrage.

    Prof Gearty is The Tablet’s legal correspondent. He writes a blog on such fascinating subjects as “Can Animals Have Human Rights?” and also reviews books in the New Humanist.

  • Karla

    The Tablet is becoming more and more disreputable

  • Ioannes

    Ma Pepsi and the other harridan who edit The Suppository are not averse to dishing the dirt themselves, as a well-known blogging priest in Kent can testify. If Beattie is a Catholic theologian, then I’m an astronaut. However, were she to speak at a venue near me, I would love to go along and ask a few pertinent questions, if only to confirm my suspicions that she isn’t even particularly clever. Hans Kung lost his Missio Canonica in 1979 and at the time he was more orthodox than this ridiculous woman, as well as being far more intelligent.

  • Dylan

    I think it’s now obvious that the Tablet should no longer be stocked in Catholic churches. Its editorial team seems to have failed to read ‘the signs of the time’ (that Catholics want truth, not dissent) and also appear determined to launch constant attacks on the Church’s Magisterium and our beloved Holy Father. I’m just amazed that anyone still reads it.

    I’m going to ask my parish priest to stop selling it in his church.

    • Deacon Nick

      I read The Tablet every Friday, as do other faithful and loyal Catholic clergy i know, as a Friday penance. Talking to them we all share the attitude that its important to know what dissenting Catholics are writing and getting up to because even though they are a small group they are enormously influential, particularly in the institutions of the Church in this country. Apart from the huge axe grinding against the Church, I do enjoy the book reviews, and other pieces that have nothing to do with the subject of the Church. I think The Tablet should continue but under a new editor, Directors and owner. In the meantime, I believe that the Archdiocese in which it is published should use canon law to insist that The Tablet is not able to use the word ‘Catholic’ in its self-description. That Archdiocese is Westminster, so ultimately the work of Catholics on the The Tablet comes under the authority and jurisdiction of Archbishop Vin Nichols. Deacon Nick

      • Teresa

        Our priest refuses to stock it for sale to the parish (he advised me that it was bad for my health when he caught me reading it). But he does read it himself, I assume to know what is being said

        • Teresa

          In fact, I know he has written in response to errors on more than one occasion – I don’t know whether they have been printed though, as I don’t normally read it myself.

  • Michael B Rooke

    Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1993 in his encyclical Veritatis Splendor reaffirmed the traditional teaching of the Catholic Church on the subject of truth and conscience that there can only be one truth.

    25…The moral prescriptions which God imparted in the Old Covenant, and which attained their perfection in the New and Eternal Covenant in the very person of the Son of God made man, must be faithfully kept and continually put into practice in the various different cultures throughout the course of history. The task of interpreting these prescriptions was entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles and to their successors, with the special assistance of the Spirit of truth: “He who hears you hears me” (Lk 10:16). By the light and the strength of this Spirit the Apostles carried out their mission of preaching the Gospel and of pointing out the “way” of the Lord (cf. Acts 18:25), teaching above all how to follow and imitate Christ: “For to me to live is Christ” (Phil 1:21).

    26..No damage must be done to the harmony between faith and life: the unity of the Church is damaged not only by Christians who reject or distort the truths of faith but also by those who disregard the moral obligations to which they are called by the Gospel (cf. 1 Cor 5:9-13). The Apostles decisively rejected any separation between the commitment of the heart and the actions which express or prove it (cf. 1 Jn 2:3-6). And ever since Apostolic times the Church’s Pastors have unambiguously condemned the behaviour of those who fostered division by their teaching or by their actions. 38

    27…In particular, as the Council affirms, “the task of authentically interpreting the word of God, whether in its written form or in that of Tradition, has been entrusted only to those charged with the Church’s living Magisterium, whose authority is exercised in the name of Jesus Christ”.41 The Church, in her life and teaching, is thus revealed as “the pillar and bulwark of the truth” ( 1 Tim 3:15), including the truth regarding moral action. Indeed, “the Church has the right always and everywhere to proclaim moral principles, even in respect of the social order, and to make judgments about any human matter in so far as this is required by fundamental human rights or the salvation of souls”.42

    32. Certain currents of modern thought have gone so far as to exalt freedom to such an extent that it becomes an absolute, which would then be the source of values. This is the direction taken by doctrines which have lost the sense of the transcendent or which are explicitly atheist. The individual conscience is accorded the status of a supreme tribunal of moral judgment which hands down categorical and infallible decisions about good and evil.

    The Encyclical is also available in pdf format on

  • Peter Haydon

    Deacon Nick
    I suspect that the Pope does listen to his nuncios. It is possible that the current nuncios in the British Isles share your views rather than those of Ms Pepinster.
    You are right to read The Tablet. The challenge is to do so charitably: we should try, in humility and patience, to understand the views there if only so as to be able to answer them politely.
    Many thanks

  • JosephMatthew

    Tina Beattie has described a CTS booklet defending Humanae Vitae as a “perverted publication.” A nasty, unChristian remark surely. And all that the editor of the Tablet does is to cry out: ” Come to Ma ! ” or words to that effect. A case of members of the alternative church defending each other surely.

  • Patrick

    The Tablet is a millstone around the neck of the Church in this country. It is a disgrace. I share Nick’s views that it does have a place, but needs a new owner and editor with more loyal and orthodox leanings. I for one would be happy to join with others to see what if anything could be done to bring this about.

  • The phenomenon of Catholic blogs is one which interests me a great deal. I have been observing them closely for years now and I have even been asked by various organisations to consult on the issue on a few occasions. I could write pages and pages about this, but here are some very brief thoughts…

    Some say that the blogs have raised some important issues which others have been afraid to raise. Others say that the blogs can be extremely nasty. They are quite definitely both right.

    The blogs (by which we mean those written by conservative Catholics) came about in the last decade. While the rest of the Church was just learning what websites were, a certain section of the Church discovered blog software and were able to make a big impact very quickly. If you googled ‘Catholic’ up until about 2009, the chances were you would see at least a few blogs on your first page of results. In the early days, a lot of them had a particular focus on liturgy (most of the really big ones still do) but almost all of them had a focus on raising the more controversial Catholic issues that those with something to lose didn’t have the guts to, as they saw it.

    I would say that the blogs had their heyday in about 2005-2009. Back then, Church authorities were terrified of being blogged about. If you went to a meeting about anything high-profile back then, you could bet that somebody would add a word of caution about incurring the ire of the blogs!

    Back then, the blogs were able to create perceptions very easily. When Summorum Pontificum came along in 2007, the blogs were able to quickly create the impression that droves and droves of people were flocking to EF Masses, while on the ground the impression was somewhat different – My local one pulls in about 35!

    (I have nothing against EF Masses by the way. It’s all good. I go myself. I’m Just saying that they’re not as popular as some blogs told us they would be!)

    Blogs and bloggers also had a visible presence in the Catholic media and even in the mainstream media at large. More than a few senior clerics whinced when news programmes decided to represent the Catholic viewpoint by means of a local blogger. But then, the bloggers were easy to get in, liked the debates and weren’t constrained by diocesan media offices.

    The influence of the blogs has declined significantly since their heyday. Last year I was at a meeting in Eccleston Square discussing a national initiative. Somebody in the meeting asked about what the blogs would make of it all. The chair (a very senior guy) responded that nobody cared any more and casually moved on to the next order of business.

    About 2-3 years back, you see, somebody looked into the influence and reach that the blogs actually have, and found that it was nowhere near as big as had previously been thought. This news changed a lot of attitudes very quickly.

    By then, of course, the rest of the Church had also discovered how to make good use of the internet too, and so, inevitably, the blogs started to slip down the page when you googled ‘Catholic’. Quite a long way down compared with 4-5 years ago.

    What I’ve written here is just meant to be a bit of background. I’m not putting the boot in at all. I think that the blogs have done a lot of good in many areas. Many of them help to catechise, help to keep people in touch and, yes, many of them raise issues which need to be raised. Some (though less than the bloggers will tell you!) have even brought about some serious change.

    There is a nasty side to the blogs though. I would add quickly that this isn’t all of the blogs, and it certainly isn’t all of the time. I can’t recall, for instance, reading anything nasty on Nick’s blog. But I certainly can recall some very nasty things on others:

    I can recall, for instance, the story of a heavily pregnant woman being systematically bullied by a group of bloggers to the point of virtually breaking down. I can recall the story of a youth worker who received threatening, nasty phone calls at his home because of what two particular bloggers wrote about him (those bloggers have yet to apologise!). I can recall pictures of people being doctored; I can recall nasty nicknames being given; I can recall criminal actions being planned on blogs and I can recall the most awful of statements (example: JP2 is in hell became he was a liberal, and torturing the Church’s enemies was okay) being posted in com boxes and blog owners refusing point blank to delete or condemn them.

    So, swings and roundabouts.

    A few years back I wrote an article about the blogs in which I expressed a hope that they would be part of the conversation in the Church going into the years ahead. I also expressed a feeling that if they were going to do that, the more nasty ones would have to reform. Has that happened? Well, it’s getting better certainly. The blogs are much, much better than they were in the last decade.

    Basically, I suppose, nobody can say that the blogs are either all-good or all-bad. What we can say for sure is that we need a fight for justice in life and we also need charity. The bloggers, like all of us, need to work very hard at both.

    On another matter, let me say that I am seriously going off the Tablet. For years, I felt that the provided a vital balancing influence from the ‘sensible left’ but over recent years I’ve just read too much in there that has just gone too far. The Catholic media, of course, is cyclical. Papers change. It comes as no surprise to learn that the Tablet opposed Newman, but it might come as a shock to realise that he was opposing them from the right rather than form the left! It may also come as a surprise to learn that when the Herald was launched in (I think?) the 1920s it was largely launched to be a left-wing counter balance to the right-wing Tablet. Yes, there was a time when the Herald was the liberal paper of record, and the would-be bloggers of the say (who used photocopiers and envelopes back then) called it the ‘Catholic Heretic!’

    The Tablet will undoubtedly reform. If we get more Bishops of the like of Bps Egan and Davies, it’ll have to, or it will soon find itself banned from the backs of Churches!

  • Veritas

    Strangely enough, I was thinking along the same lines about The Tablet as Jack Regan just yesterday.

    I am old enough (but not ready for retirement just yet!) to remember reading The Tablet just after Douglas Woodruff stepped down as editor but while he continued to have a weekly column. And I remember the more recent days when the Catholic Herald disagreed with almost everything the Pope had to say.

    How times have changed! I do hope that The Tablet will reform itself – but at present neither its lady editor nor its Board of Trustees inspires confidence.

    Sadly I cannot claim to have read The Tablet during its golden era when Woodruff was editor.
    The post war Catholic Church in England regarded him as the natural successor to G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc.

    Woodruff had married Mia Acton (a daughter of the 2nd Lord Acton) at the Brompton Oratory in 1933 and two years later he was asked to take on the Tablet, then a somewhat cantankerous down-at-heel journal. (Plus ca change – some might say!) With Mia’s help, he made it a platform for Hilaire Belloc, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene, Ronald Knox, Christopher Dawson, Martin D’Arcy SJ, and Gerald Vann OP, forming a sort of Woodruff circle with his attractive and gifted wife at the centre.

    Shortly before the Second World War, Mia Woodruff played a leading part in the formation of the Catholic Refugee Committee which cared for refugee children, both Jewish and Catholic. In 1944 the first team of her Catholic Committee for Relief Abroad (CCRA) went to the Middle East. Later other teams travelled to liberated Europe providing food and shelter for the victims of the war of every nationality.

    She gained the respect and close friendship of two Popes, Pius XII and Paul VI, the latter of whom as Mgr Montini used to drop in at her CCRA offices in Rome practising his English and admiring the competence of these English women. Italian women could never be organised like that, he said. ‘What is your secret?’ he asked. ‘Englishwomen are natural nannies,’ she replied, ‘used to cleaning up the mess left by their menfolk and following them around the Empire.’

    Of course eventually the Trustees of The Tablet will wake up and smell the coffee. Perhaps those of them who have little understanding of Catholic orthodoxy but who do know how to read a balance sheet might suspect that there is something seriously wrong.

    In its published accounts over the last 5 years The Tablet Trust (charity number 271537) had an income of £546,843 and an expenditure of £732,262.

    “The champions of the sweeping liturgical changes of the last few years are fond of claiming that they have sought simplicity and to remove duplications and reiterations, that the essentials may stand out more clearly. It is a dangerous principle for ceremonies that need to be invested with a proper solemnity. They might make their patron the Indiana magistrate who acquired some notoriety in the last century for the way he stripped the marriage ceremony of all accessories and came straight to fundamentals, so that the ceremony lasted under a minute. “Have her?” and when the bridegroom had said “yes”, turned to the bride and said “Have him?” and after her yes, announced “Married. Five dollars.”

  • Veritas

    Dear Deacon Nick,

    The last paragraph should be preceded by:

    “One of Woodruff’s quips on liturgical change was:”

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