Nov 082012

Brandon Vogt has a good post up on “7 Things Bishops Should Know About Catholic Bloggers

One of them included this:

5. Digital imprimaturs are not a good idea.

One of the big questions in the Catholic blogosphere concerns authority. In an online world that is by nature egalitarian, how can bishops speak with any unique authority? Similarly, how can Catholics be sure that a website they visit faithfully and authoritatively presents Catholic teaching?

As you know, the answer is easy when it comes to print. Your censor gives it anihil obstat, you give it an imprimatur, and people can be confident it contains no theological errors.

But what about blogs and websites? Should we institute some form of digital imprimatur?
I don’t think so. I’m convinced it’s a bad idea for three main reasons:

First, blogs and websites are constantly changing. If you grant an imprimatur to a specific website, there’s no guarantee its content would remain orthodox.

Second, validating tens of thousands of Catholic sites and millions of new articles each year would be a futile effort.

Third, as Matt Warner points out, blogs are not libraries of digitized books. They are virtual conversations. They’re more like pubs and living rooms than soapboxes or encyclicals. We would never put an imprimatur on a bar stool or living room couch, nor should we propose one for blogs.

When I was a guest on Catholic Answers Live this was one of the questions I got.  The caller wanted a sure way to tell if a blog was faithful to the Church and wanted blog imprimaturs.  As I recalled I told him first to study your faith — the Catechism, spiritual classics, and other documents.  Those who are experts in detecting counterfeit money become experts by becoming thoroughly familiar with real money not studying counterfeits.  As you learn more about the faith it becomes easier to detect when any writer or speaker is speaking accurately about the faith. As I was coming into the Church reading Church documents and the spiritual classics it helped my theological spidey sense to detect dodgy writers.

My second suggestion was when you find a blog that you like and is faithful to the Church you can look at their blogroll for suggestions regarding other faithful blogs.  These blogrolls more often than not are a semi-impramatur and a good indicator.  The opposite is true of more dissident blogs where almost always they link to other dissident blogs.  When I found my first Catholic blog over a decade ago I immediately found other good Catholic blogs from the blogroll and then from the blogroll of these other blogs.  It was a little easier then since there were not all that many Catholic blogs and really no dissident blogs at that time. In fact I remember Commonweal doing some coming whining about the lack of progressive blogs.

Jimmy Akin on his podcast previously answered this question regarding the Canon Law aspects regarding blogs, podcasts, and other public posting.  Here is the transcript.

  2 Responses to “7 Things Bishops Should Know About Catholic Bloggers”

  1. Authentication and imprimatur is an excellent idea in this age of bloggers. And Catholic clones seeking to promote entirely different Gospels while copying Catholic style and tone. More Catholic seals of approval please.

  2. Jeff! “IT” is so hard for U>S (usual sinners) to know what is right in GOD (Good Old Dad) mind and “I” guess from my experience, me, myself and i would summer rize “IT” all by compressing all of HIS CELLS into “ONE” of HIS Human Creation and then of course, we would only be toughing the surface only because we were made in HIS OWN IMAGE if ya get my drift that is?

    I hear that you might be starting your third blog sometime next year! Is that so Victor?

    Go figure Jeff! I hope that you’ll be praying that me, myself and i make the right decision and don’t mis-lead others like “I” did last time.

    Hey Victor! What will ya be calling “IT” this time MAN, again?

    GOD only knows for sure sinner vic! 🙂


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