Sunday, February 22, 2009

Hatchet Job

Many of us have been absolutely horrified by a recent article by The Tablet entitled "That was not my Mass".

It is an attack on Fr Finigan who writes the excellent blog The Hermeneutic of Continuity.

In Responding to the Tablet Father Finigan sets out the article in full and his response.

The offending article is riddled with inaccuracy and false innuendo.

I believe the term for such an article is "hatchet job".

The personal attack on Fr Finegan in The Tablet is really beyond the pale.

Whatever one may think about the Missal of Blessed John XXIII, it is a valid option for a parochial Mass. As such the celebration of one such Mass out of a total of four for the Sunday obligation is certainly not excessive.

The objectionable parts of the article in The Tablet which should be the cause of serious concern are:

1. The article would only widen divisions in the parish when the Bishop is still in the process of trying to mediate betwen the parties to produce an amicable resolution of the various issues.

2. The clear partisan nature of the piece. Father Finegan`s defence of his position is dismissed in one sentence as a thirty seven page essay. Thre is no attempt to briefly summarise his position.

3. The subtle and not so subtle innuendoes about the personal character and actions of Father Finegan: in particular in relation to the use of Church funds (vestments, no published accounts); his so called "martinet" charater (the issuing of "rules" regarding silence in Church).

It does seem that Father Finegan has been the subject of a totally unjustified and malicious personal attack.

One does not expect to see such an article of such a nature in a Catholic magazine which is given wide circulation through free distribution channels of Catholic parishes. Ideology seems to have overriden the quest for truth and the other values which we expect from a journal which proclaims itself to be "Catholic".

One does wonder if the writer of the piece had seriously considered the adverse effects of writing such a piece on the participants to the dispute. Of course, the writer can simply disappear after writing the piece. She does not have to pick up the pieces and restore a Catholic community. She may have probably widened the dispute, perhaps irretrievably.

There is a lack of vocations. There is a diminishing number of priests. Such an article can only reduce morale among the existing priests. We should encourage good priests not subject them to public ridicule and scorn.

As well as complaining to the trustees of The Tablet, should parish priests not reconsider whether they should continue to stock issues of The Tablet in their churches while the offending article continues to stand on the record without contradiction ?