Catholic keyboard warriors who “spend all day attacking and responding” on social media in the belief that they are “defending the integrity of Church teaching” have been sharply criticised by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin.
For those of us who have been at this in the Anglican/Episcopal world, this sure sounds familiar. Before social media there was the blogosphere, with people such as Kendall Harmon, David Virtue, Standfirm (Greg Griffith/Matt Kennedy/Sarah Hey,) Alan Haley and so many others, including of course Mary “BabyBlue” Ailes, now of blessed memory. Since social media many of these have migrated there, but it’s been rough: Matt Kennedy got kicked off of Twitter by Jessica Yaniv, who just lost the waxing case. And I’m seeing a mini-resurgence in the blogosphere, given the uncertainties in social media.
We on the conservative side (and we outnumbered the liberals by a healthy margin) were criticised as divisive, hateful, mean, bigoted, homophobic…you get the idea. And we’re seeing the same thing said about Catholic social media/sites, which have got the Archbishop’s dander up.
But the real fear among the RCC’s own “reapprisers” (to use Kendall Harmon’s term) is that all of this intensely offensive stuff actually works. We wouldn’t have the ACNA, warts and all, if it weren’t for the internet and those who inhabited it. We wouldn’t probably have GAFCON either. In the 1970’s opponents of the changes taking place in the Episcopal Church were marginalized before they could get off the ground; Continuing Anglicanism was hardly a blip on 815’s radar screen, and the Charismatic Renewal ended up filling Pentecostal and Charismatic churches outside of the Anglican world.
With the Catholic Church’s more centralized structure, and the obsession of the Trads with the authority of Peter’s see, seeing a path to progress is more difficult. But one never knows. The Anglican Revolt was the great story of American Christianity in the last decade; who knows what might come this time. Perhaps the Amazonian idols won’t be the only things thrown into the Tiber.