Archbishop Nichols tells Catholic blogs to stop complaining because it destroys love in the Church

In his homily given during the Diocese of Westminster’s Mass for Pope Francis Archbishop Nichols criticised blogs for spreading complaints and destroying love in the Church. Archbishop Nichols quoted Pope Francis’ reflection on the disciples complaining on their journey to Emmaus:

‘Pope Francis understands this in practical terms. He has already identified two kinds of behaviour that destroy love in the Church. They are complaining and gossiping. He is a practical man. He knows that we live in a society in which complaining and gossip is a standard fare. They sell newspapers and attract us to blogs because we love hear complaints and to read gossip.

But Pope Francis is clear: they should have no place in the Church.

He reminded us that the disciples, on the road to Emmaus were sad and complaining. He added: ‘and the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves. They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.’ Complaining and griping about others, about things in one’s own life, is harmful, he said ‘because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.’ Then, in another memorable phrase, he added that some ‘stew their lives in the juice of their own complaining.’

Archbishop Nichols concluded:

‘We, as Catholics, are always ready to profess our love for the Lord. But now Pope Francis is calling us to show that love in down-to-earth ways. How wonderful it would be if our Church was known to be a place that was free of the sound of complaining and the whisper of gossip! Then the light of Christ would indeed shine brightly.’

Here is Pope Francis’ actual reflection on complaining:

“They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid,” he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining. “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall,” the Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio.

The disciples had had such high hopes that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said on Wednesday.

“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the Pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”

When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognise him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognise him.”

Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the Pope told the congregation.

“Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said before adding that the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.

Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”

Protect the Pope comment: There are two things to observe when comparing Archbishop Nichols references to complaining and Pope Francis’ actual words: firstly, Pope Francis is referring to Christians complaining about personal difficulties in life, not about all complaints within the Church. The Holy Father said, ‘I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints’; secondly, Pope Francis doesn’t mention blogs.

Archbishop Nichols has pushed Pope Francis’ words beyond their original meaning to express his own personal desire that ‘the Church would be free from the sound of complaining’. Here Archbishop Nichols words echo his intemperate demand that faithful Catholics complaining about the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’. Is this the silence that he hopes for in the Church of England and Wales?

So long as pastors in this country lend their patronage and support to self-styled theologians who are Catholic who promote early abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, contraception, and women priests, faithful and loyal Catholics will continue to complain to the Holy See that we do not have pastors who will defend the faith and protect the flock from wolves. Deacon Nick Donnelly

33 comments to Archbishop Nichols tells Catholic blogs to stop complaining because it destroys love in the Church

  • Michael Petek

    I blame Thatcher. Apart from that, I can’t complain.

  • Pat

    Exactly Deacon Nick. Abp Nichols wants us all to ‘hold our tongues’ so he can continue to turn a blind eye to dissent – or even actively support it. But if he cannot recognise evil, or if he is too cowardly to speak out against evil, then he should at least have the decency to stop sniping against those who do. And also, Pope Francis has said “There has been throughout history of the people, this temptation: to chop a piece off the Faith . . . not to be so very rigid. But when we start to cut down the Faith, to negotiate the Faith, a little like selling it to the highest bidder, we take the path of apostasy, of disloyalty to the Lord . . . ”!

  • JB

    “If the faith is in imminent peril, prelates ought to be accused by their subjects, even in public.”
    -St. Thomas Aquinas

    “Augustine says in his Rule: ‘Show mercy not only to yourselves, but also to him who, being in the higher position among you, is therefore in greater danger.’ But fraternal correction is a work of mercy. Therefore even prelates ought to be corrected.”
    -St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica II, II, q. 33, a. 4, Sed Contra.

  • buckle

    I guess this is a counter attack and PF1 has inevitably been aggressively co-opted into the attack. It was curious to listen to the post-conclave press conferences especially by the Americans. Cardinal Wuerl struck me as particularly odd even if Dolan is the ringleader of their crew. One learns from them that “new evangelisation” is code for “no evangelisation” in the USA. One Cardinal (it might have been Wuerl again) views the future Catholic Church in terms of Bill Clinton’s NAFTA project with the modification that it has been extended to embrace South America as well as Mexico. What are ordinary Americans be they WASPs, Catholics and especially blacks, now gaining from this post-1965 destruction of their country? From a Catholic perspective, I blame Henry Luce and his wife Claire for all of this as they gained control of the Jesuits on behalf of the CIA back in the late 50’s as part of the American project. The Faustian pact continues to play itself within the Catholic Church regardless of consequences.

  • Mel

    When all the moaning that The Tablet do, including his own Justice and Peace department about Church doctrine and are force ably clamped down upon, then what +Vincent Nichols says will make more sense.

    Couple of practical points here for his Grace. First remove the complaining and gossiping Tablet newspaper from being stocked in your Cathedral and parishes. Secondly stop Barbara Kentish and Fr Joe Ryan and all the rest of the Call to Action gossipers from meeting and complaining about Church doctrine in Westminster parishes.

    We await your lead.

  • It must be hard for people of a certain vin-tage who, having spent the best part of a lifetime learning the ropes, identifying the personalities and the “angles” in order to deal with the denizens of the mainstream media, to suddenly have to come to terms with a whole new “game” in the form of the new media. Who is important? Who is influential among all these individuals? Scary too because bloggers tend to be independent and not easily “fixed”.

  • Simon

    Pope Francis’s homily last Tuesday:

    Nowadays, he went on, “everybody seems happy about the presence of the Holy Spirit but it’s not really the case and there is still that temptation to resist it.” The Pope said one example of this resistance was the Second Vatican council which he called “a beautiful work of the Holy Spirit.” But 50 years later, “have we done everything the Holy Spirit was asking us to do during the Council,” he asked. The answer is “No,” said Pope Francis. “We celebrate this anniversary, we put up a monument but we don’t want it to upset us. We don’t want to change and what’s more there are those who wish to turn the clock back.” This, he went on, “is called stubbornness and wanting to tame the Holy Spirit.”

  • Rifleman819

    Deacon Nick ,

    What do you make of a man so gaffe prone as Vincent Nichols?

    Whom does he think he is….a Cardinal??

    Respect is both earned and sustained by being an upholder of the Catholic Faith.He has signally failed in this regard.

    He is a lacklustre man who has a high opinion of himself.

    There many better who deserve the pallium and the Cardinal’s gallero-and both they and Vincent Nichols know it.

  • Lynda

    It is the dissenting, disobedient Bishops that hate blogs loyal to the truth, the Church and the Deposit of Faith. Such blogs call out the powerful dissenting clergy that subvert the Church and the truth. It is a real nuisance to dissenters such as Archbishop Nichols that their opposition to Faith and Morals can be called out by the remnant Faithful of the Church whom they have not yet managed to destroy or control. I mean how dare Catholic blogs point out where Bishops, Cardinals, etc., cause scandal, sin and loss of Faith by their deceitful subversion of the Faith? How dare such blogs show that Archbishop Nichols continues to flout the Holy See by promoting “LGBT Masses” in London?

  • Genty

    Another one coming out of the woodwork. He must feel confident that there’s going to be a change of Nuncio. I wouldn’t bet on it.

  • Barnaby

    I’m reminded of the scene in the (rediculous) film, Brother Sun Sister Moon, when St Francis stands on the steps of the bishop’s palace, and the bishop is sat inside, stuffing his face with pies, and he scorns to his secretary: “tell him I’m at my prayers, and how dare he interrupt a bishop at his prayers!”

    Nichols et al is sat inside a cucoon while the faithful are standing on the steps of his palace, waiting to be shepherded in love. Instead, they get their hands bitten off.

    He – and others – made to well to meditate upon Pope Francis’ recent sermon on taming the Holy Ghost. Some clerics think they have embraced Vatican 2 by embracing dissent and throwing away their amices, while keeping a very monarchical and despotic attitude towards the piety and devotion of the faithful.

    Maybe Nichols could take a spoonful of his own medicine and stop complaining, and actually start paying attention.

  • Quick comment (coz I’m working)… blogs can be a force for good, but hopefully Deacon Nick can also agree that there have been times in the past when some (note ‘times’ and ‘some’) blogs have done things which were categorically wrong. I think, in particular, of the friend of mine who was hounded to despair by blogs to the point of even receiving nasty phone calls at home – calls which were not in the least bit constructive, just insulting.

    However… before I get jumped on… the blogs do seem to have reformed in the last couple of years and most bloggers seem to now ‘get’ what they need to do to be take seriously.

    • Denis

      Jack, absolutely right. We do need to think through the consequences of things we put on-line and by and large I think most now do.
      Inescapable irony though that those senior clergy who saw Second Vatican Council as a free-for-all are so upset when that “freedom” is exercised by Catholics who strongly disagree with what they teach. The classical neo-liberal; I know what’s best for you, it’s freedom and if you don’t agree I will impose my version of freedom on you.

  • Gurn

    This calls for an increase of complaining on blogs.

  • Bain Wellington

    Deacon Nick, you say “Archbishop Nichols’ words echo his intemperate demand that faithful Catholics complaining about the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’.”

    All I can find is a slightly longer quote attributed to him from 2010 (reported at :-

    “anybody from the outside who is trying to cast a judgment on the people who come forward for communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue”

    That is a very long way away from the context you provided. If the quote is authentic he was rebuking uncharitable and inadmissible judgements made by individuals about the state of grace of other people approaching the Blessed Sacrament. You present it as if it was a reproach against any and all criticism of the Soho Masses.

    In a nutshell, we have in this very post a case study directly relevant to the malign effect of “gossip and complaining” in the blogosphere. If you cannot justify your use of Archbishop Nichols’ words, you have a serious obligation to withdraw them, to apologise, and to amend your behaviour. On a fair reading of his latest homily, the Archbishop was doing no more than reminding us of our obligations under the 8th commandment (CCC 2465-2503).

    In peace.

  • SteveD

    Isn’t this homily itself the most blatant example of complaining? Not only is this a complaint, it is one designed to make the complainer’s life a lot easier. It is clear that some things said about the failures of those running the Church in this country are finding their mark and this should be an encouragement to all those who seek to promote adherence to the teachings of the Church.

  • Bain Wellington

    Following on from my comment posted yesterday, Deacon Nick, you need to substantiate or withdraw this :-

    “Archbishop Nichols words echo his intemperate demand that faithful Catholics complaining about the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’.”

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Where members of Pro Ecclesia et Pontifice holding prayer vigils outside the Soho Masses and complaining about the blatant flouting of the Church’s teaching of homosexuality? Yes. Did Archbishop Nichols, through his interview, tell such faithful Catholics to hold their tongues? Yes. End of discussion. Deacon Nick

      • Bain Wellington

        Well, it’s your blog, Deacon Nick, and if you want to shut down discussion, so be it. But the only place where I have seen the “hold your tongue” comment attributed to Archbishop Nichols is specifically in the context of rebuking people for presuming to judge the state of grace of those who approach the Blessed Sacrament – as quoted by me above.

        It is unjust and incorrect to construe that particular remark as reprobating general objections and protests against the Soho Masses as such. I hope and pray that, on mature reflection, you will agree.

        In peace.

  • Pat

    Abp Nichols said “anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue”. This quote can be widely found on the internet. But it needs to be read and understood in the context of reality.

    It is a widely known and publicly documented fact that the ‘Soho Masses Pastoral Council’ Masses in Warwick Street were spawned by the Masses held by the dissident ‘Roman Catholic Caucus of the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement’ at St Annes Anglican church in Soho. Their ‘statement of conviction’ says:- “It is the conviction of members of the Lesbian and Gay Christian Movement that human sexuality in all its richness is a gift of God, gladly to be accepted, enjoyed and honoured as a way of both expressing and growing in love, in accordance with the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. Therefore it is their conviction that it is entirely compatible with the Christian faith not only to love another person of the same sex but also to express that love fully in a personal sexual relationship.”

    Abp Nichols was made fully aware of the dissent from Catholic teaching being promoted by this group at and through the Soho Masses, before, during and after the beginning of the Masses at Warwick Street, but for whatever reason chose to turn a blind eye – until he was eventually reined in by the Holy See, and the Masses stopped. But make no mistake, although the Mass itself being used as a platform for dissent may have stopped, the dissent is still being promoted on Catholic premises at Farm Street:- see the blog of Soho Masses Pastoral Council member Terry Weldon:- )

    It is not a matter of judging souls here. If people openly promote that which is at variance with Catholic teaching and publicly state that they don’t accept Catholic teaching, then you have to take what they say at face value. To do anything else would defy reason.

    Perhaps too much attention has been paid to this numerically tiny group of dissidents at Warwick St/Farm St. People have same-sex attraction issues, no doubt, and they need help. They were never going to find it at Warwick Street and they aren’t going to find it at Farm Street. But there is a fully Church-approved organisation called Courage GB which can help people with same-sex attraction. Email: for further details.

    • Bain Wellington

      Pat, let us assume for present purposes that the Soho Masses were used as a platform for dissent. That is your paras. 2 and 4. Your para. 3 adds that Archbishop Nichols was fully aware of the nature of the dissent, and your para. 4 contends the situation is effectively continuing at Farm Street. Let these be conceded too, for present purposes.

      Next, there is no question but that voices were raised in opposition to this state of affairs – people objecting to the Soho Masses and people complaining at Archbishop Nichols’ inaction (his turning a blind eye, as you say).

      Absent any citation of any other remarks than the one you and I have quoted, Deacon Nick has asserted that Archbishop Nichols told Catholics who were complaining about the Soho Masses “to hold their tongues”.

      That assertion is both incorrect and unjust. Nothing you have written alters the case.

      I have challenged Deacon Nick to make good on his assertion and he has not done so.

      I remind Deacon Nick again of the Church’s teaching on the 8th commandment (CCC 2465-2503).

      • Deacon Nick Donnelly

        BBC 9 September 2010
        Britain’s only Gay Mass by Mark Dowd:

        But Archbishop Vincent Nichols says he continues to support the Mass.

        “It is a parish mass to which everybody is invited, but it has a particular appeal to people of a same sex orientation – not to distinguish them from the rest of the congregation, but to say you can be at home here.

        “And I think that’s the right thing to do because it offers slowly, and it is slow, a chance for those who as it were feel they live under a great pressure of an identity to perhaps shake that a bit looser and to say no, first of all I’m a Catholic and as a Catholic I want to come to Mass.”

        And in a hard hitting riposte to critics of the mass, the Archbishop says “anybody who is trying to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for communion really ought to learn to hold their tongue”.

        In 1982 at the time of the last papal visit, such a mass would have been the stuff of fantasy. But the Catholic Church in Britain has undergone widespread transformation since the visit of John Paul II.’

        • Bain Wellington

          Deacon Nick. The passage you quote does not get you out of the hole you are digging. The “hard hitting critique of critics of the Mass” (which you highlighted) is an editorial BBC gloss on the only words we have from Archbishop Nichols on this topic – he reproves those who presume “to cast a judgement on the people who come forward for communion.” That is all. He was not telling critics of the Mass to hold their tongues and your post asserting that that is what he said is untrue and unjust.

          Then, as to your comment that Pope Francis was referring to Christians complaining about personal difficulties in their own lives, no doubt that is true, but in a homily a few days later, on 9 April, Pope Francis said this (as reported at :-

          “When we prefer to gossip, gossip about others, criticize others – these are everyday things that happen to everyone, including me – these are the temptations of the evil one who does not want the Spirit to come to us and bring about peace and meekness in the Christian community”. “These struggles always exist” in the parish, in the family, in the neighborhood, among friends”. . . The Holy Father then outlined the correct behavior for a Christian. First, “do not judge anyone” because “the only Judge is the Lord.” Then “keep quiet” and if you have something to say, say it to the interested parties, to those “who can remedy the situation,” but “not to the entire neighborhood.”

          So Archbishop Nichols anticipated what the Pope said. Is that any ground for the vituperation your comment unleashed in other blogs – including those who absurdly claim that Archbishop Nichols was attacking Catholic blogs? See and

          You should have withdrawn your remarks long ago. You can still apologise for them.

  • [...] for the first time in his own indispensable blog, Protect the Pope, Deacon Nick has drawn our attention to another attack on Catholic blogs, coming from a familiar prelatical [...]

  • [...] for the first time in his own indispensable blog, Protect the Pope, Deacon Nick has drawn our attention to another attack on Catholic blogs, coming from a familiar prelatical [...]

  • Philip

    What a vile blog. Deacon Donnelly should be kicked out of the deaconate and out of the church. There is nothing but dissent on here.
    If you feel the need to quote the Archbishop, then do it correctly.
    You are absolute evil.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      Here is another example of the personal attacks I am receiving. It’s quite something to be called ‘absolute evil’. Deacon Nick

  • [...] for the first time in his own indispensable blog, Protect the Pope,Deacon Nick has drawn our attention to another attack on Catholic blogs, coming from a familiar prelatical [...]

  • Philip

    Don’t play the victim Deacon Nick. There are those of us who are greatly concerned with what you write for your Blog. It is hardly charitable and Christ like. In this post you have used The Archbishops’ words showing little respect for the Prelate or his office. The problem here is your massive ego. It is high time you used the energy you put into maligning those in high office, into good works. Dedicating yourself to the sick and the poor instead of posturing, playing to the gallery of the more traditional. One has to question your suitability and complaints will be made to Bishop Michael.

    • Deacon Nick Donnelly

      I. PROFESSION OF FAITH (made six months before my ordination on 8th July 2005)

      I, Deacon Nick Donnelly, with firm faith believe and profess everything that is contained in the Symbol of faith: namely:


      With firm faith, I also believe everything contained in the Word of God, whether written or handed down in Tradition, which the Church, either by a solemn judgement or by the ordinary and universal Magisterium, sets forth to be believed as divinely revealed.

      I also firmly accept and hold each and everything definitively proposed by the Church regarding teaching on faith and morals.

      Moreover, I adhere with religious submission of will and intellect to the teachings which either the Roman pontiff or the College of Bishops enunciate when they exercise their authentic Magisterium, even if they do not intend to proclaim these teachings by a definitive act.

      • Bain Wellington

        Deacon Nick might want to reflect on what Canon Law has to say about voicing opinions on Church matters and the manner in which those opinions are to be notified (i) to bishops and (ii) to other Catholics (CCL, can.212 §3 – breaks added):-

        “According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess,
        [the Christian faithful] have the right
        and even at times the duty
        to manifest to the sacred pastors
        their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and
        to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful,
        without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals,
        with reverence toward their pastors, and
        attentive to common advantage and
        the dignity of persons.”

  • [...] for the first time in his own indispensable blog, Protect the Pope, Deacon Nick has drawn our attention to another attack on Catholic blogs, coming from a familiar prelatical [...]

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