Monday, February 22, 2010

Idea - Bishop's Blog Registry

We know that the Catholic church has called it's people to use the "new media," and to use it for the purpose of good. Translation: Catholic blogging is potentially desirable on the part of the Church. I have not yet, though, stumbled upon any way this is officially channelled, overseen, assisted, even LISTED by the Church.

I propose that the US Council of Catholic Bishops set up a system in which each diocese will have an assigned, part-time person to manage a list of officially recognized Catholic blogs within the diocese. (This might be a great job for a retired priest with reading time on their hands.)

I propose this as a voluntary program. If you have a Catholic blog you can choose to fill out a form and request to be put on the list. In return, after a quick heresy-check you will be given permission to put a little box on your homepage saying you are listed on the Bishop's Blog Registry.

People stumbling onto a new "Catholic" blog would quickly know, by scanning the home page if this is a site which holds itself accountable to its diocese.

The diocese would have an easy way to know who was saying what and could provide different kinds of training, support and information to these registered people.

Catholic bloggers would have a way to distinguish themselves as Church team players and would benefit from the vague approval of the Church. They could also benefit if the diocese posts a list of registered blogs on their website.

I do mean "vague" approval. No one is going to have the time to actually read everything that is being said on all the Catholic blogs in a diocese. However, the appointed diocesan overseer can just sign on as a follower to all the blogs and put them in his (or her) RSS feed and skim randomly as time permits. If anyone else finds something out of line with the teachings of the Church on a registered site they would have someone specific to complain to and then it can be quickly look into it and resolved.

One problem might be that people will falsely put the registry box on their homepages. That is an issue to be looked at. In this day and age, however, a person can self-publish books as well and falsify an imprimatur in them if they choose.

I know adding new oversight might not be popular but I propose to my fellow bloggers that chaos isn't a good thing either. Maybe we would do well to figure out a helpful system now rather than having one thrust upon us later.


  1. I understand where you are coming from, but I think what you are suggesting is fraught with problems. I know one rule in our diocese is that no parish blog can link to non-Catholic religious sites. That makes perfect sense for a parish blog, but what about my personal blog? If I find a great Lenten devotion on a Lutheran site, should I be able to link to it? If I do, and I have this "seal of approval" does that mean the giver of the seal approves of the Lutheran faith? What if I share an insight that unknown to me, is just plain wrong by Catholic doctrinal standards (and face it, a lot of folks, including some bloggers, have a lot to learn about what the Church really teaches). As you said, it would take far more man (or woman) hours to scour a list of blogs that what anyone has to devote to the effort.

    I think most bloggers and blog readers have adopted the "caveat lector" standard. I realize that anyone can say they are whomever they please online--in other words, that "priest" publishing that blog I read may be a teen in his basement--and there isn't much I can do about it; but I can read, figure out where he is coming from and if he knows his stuff.

  2. That is interesting, RAnn, and I really appreciate the comment. Perhaps, in time, the diocesan limitation about linking to non-Catholic religious sites might go by the wayside. I am saying that just because of the nature of a "web" in which everything is really connected to everything else and it would be hard to do anything online that never accidentally made a trail to something un-Catholic. For example, linking to youtube videos.

    I think the registry would just be a way of identifying who is willing to make themselves accountable instead of who is completely pure and sinless (HA).

    Any ideas on how we can address this issue?