The expertise of the Combox Inquisition

The expertise of the Combox Inquisition March 4, 2014

So many experts. We’re awash in them! Just got an email from one:


Tetrad Blood Moons 2014&2015 Predict Building Of Temple In Jerusalem! Be Rapture Ready!

So there’s that.  And as we saw over the weekend, the internet was *full* of experts on US/Russian/Ukraine relations.  Thousands of people who could not find Ukraine on a map and could not give a syllable of coherent history of the region were, overnight, transformed into experts who knew that because they saw a photoshopped picture of Putin shirtless and riding a bear, he was kind of awesome and Obama is a wuss and our sole hope for remaining  a superpower was to do do something awesome too, possibly involving missiles or something.  My FB was awash with expert advice for Obama, plus the secret hope that whatever happened, he would lose (even if that involved losing a sudden and short global war, which would be awesome too because then the media would *have* to admit that Obama sucks, and that’s the important thing).

Since I know very little about Ukraine and only know enough of Putin to know that Catholics are idiots for imagining he is Constantine Redivivus, I refrained from offering my expert advice to Obama. I posted the comments of my friend Dr. Curp because he does, in fact, have actual expertise (as in a Ph.D. in matters related to the region) and seemed to me to be talking sense. Now things seem to be cooling off. (But then again, what do I know?)

So now the experts in the Combox Inquisition have moved on the the burning question of Bp. Olson telling Fisher-More College they can’t celebrate the EF.  Again, my mailbox and FB burn up with hundreds of outraged experts stating in no uncertain terms that, while they don’t really know anything about Fisher-More or the bishop’s reasoning or, well, anything he “owes us an explanation” for this presumably outrageous and unjust act.

People keep asking me for my opinion on this latest “outrage” and so forth.

Okay.  You asked for it, so here it is.

Who do you think you are, combox inquisitor?  Since when does it become the responsibility of the bishop of some diocese you could not find on a map to explain himself and his pastoral decision (in a *private* letter that he sure as hell did not leak to the interwebs to gin up yet another pissed off mob of Reactionaries) to you?  Does the bishop of Bogota need to clear every action he takes with you?  Has God died and appointed you the arbiter of each and every choice the bishop of Kuala Lumpur needs to take?  Since when was canon law revised so that a gaggle of Reactionary loudmouths with keyboards on Facebook are now the deciding factor in what course of action a bishop takes in the pastoral care of each and every tiny school–particularly a tiny school that almost nobody had heard of until they suddenly decided they were Total Experts on it in the wink of an eye.

This is the same garbage that played out when the pope decided that one tiny group of Franciscans was out of line and the whole Reactionary community had hysterics and complained about persecution and declared Francis Worst Pope Evar!!!111!!!

So: my idea is this: since nobody really knows what’s going on, my assumption  is that the bishop is acting within his rights and probably has a reason, rather than no reason, for this action.  Combox inquisitors, in contrast, have neither knowledge nor authority to order the good bishop to explain himself to them.  This is not a matter of civil law.  No crime is being committed or covered up (I speak here to those who are inclined to drag in the priest scandal as some kind of rationale for appointing themselves Inquisitors).  It’s a quarrel within the diocese.  So in the words of Professor Digory Kirke, “Why don’t we all try minding our own business?”

In my non-expert opinion.

Oh, and look!  The Bishop actually has something to say about the matter that suggests (mirabile dictu) that hysterical Reactionary bloggers (with a looooooonnng hystery of hysterical hysterics) seizing on one-sided accounts calculated to feed pre-ordained Reactionary narratives might not be trading in reality.

Oh!  And look!  Dr. Taylor Marshall weighs in:

Regarding Fisher More College and what you’re reading in Rorate Caeli:

Now that the Bishop of Fort Worth has weighed in (and is now being maligned), after much prayer, I feel that I should break the silence.

First off, I love the students at Fisher More College (FMC). I love them so much. It was heartbreaking for me to leave FMC. Last summer (2013) was very difficult for me. I also love the Latin Mass and write about it often on my blog and talk about it publicly (my family belongs to a FSSP parish – Mater Dei parish in Irving, Texas).

For the record, I resigned as Chancellor of the College at the beginning of June of 2013—only days after our seventh baby was born. I had no job prospects and no income. I did it for the sake of conscience. I felt it would be a danger to my soul to remain at Fisher More College.

I resigned when moral, theological, and financial discrepancies came to light regarding the presidency of Michael King. I was an ex officio member of the Board so I knew what others did not. From May to early June of 2013, five of the eight College Board Members also resigned for two reasons:

1) Mr. King refused to disassociate himself from the public statements of faculty member Dr. Dudley that claimed in his Year of Faith lecture that Catholic professors have the duty to teach young people that Vatican 2 is not a valid Council (he also endorsed other “resistance” positions regarding the Novus Ordo, John Paul II, etc.)

2) Mr. King, after selling the original FMC campus to Texas Christian University for millions of dollars, had imprudently entered into a real estate deal that financially crippled Fisher More College.

Much of the politicization around the “Latin Mass and FMC” is Mr. King’s careful attempt to distract attention away from his financial misdealing at FMC. The college is currently teetering on bankruptcy and this latest entanglement with the bishop will lead to a public statement: “Fisher More closed down because the new bishop of Fort Worth persecuted the Latin Mass!” when in reality the College is failing because Mr. King entered into a dubious real estate deal that washed out college’s endowment AND all the proceeds from the sale of the original campus.

How did a College sell its extremely valuable campus to TCU for several millions dollars in 2012 only to announce at Christmas 2013 that it might be closing without an immediate fund raising campaign through Rorate Caeli?

Rorate Caeli has just released their sensational “exclusive” report on how the new Bishop of Fort Worth is persecuting the traditional Latin Mass in the person of Michael King. They included the (private) letter of Bishop Olson to Michael King and offered their speculation.

This controversy created by Rorate Caeli with the help of Michael King’s letter is not about the Latin Mass or Summorum Pontificum.*

FMC hosted a public repudiation of Vatican 2 and the Ordinary Form of the Mass in April of 2013 that was so offensive that my wife and I walked out of it before it’s conclusion. That did not do much to heal the breach with the local diocese or presbyterate and it contributed to the priests of the Priestly Fraternity of Saint Peter (FSSP) discontinuing their support and presence at FMC. The current FMC website advertises that the FSSP provides a chaplain, but this is not true.

At the same time, Michael King estranged himself from the diocese of Fort Worth by not allowing the Ordinary Form (as stipulated by the previous ordinary Bishop Vann of Fort Worth). He also contracted an irregular/suspended priest without faculties, and hired “trad resistance” faculty while there was no bishop in Fort Worth to check these developments. Mr. King was able to create a community in his image (he affectionately referred to himself the “father” of this community) during the episcopal inter-regnum of the diocese of Fort Worth.

Clearly, a bishop’s intervention was inevitable. The current controversy really has nothing to do with the Latin Mass per se. The Latin Mass is at the center because Michael King is politicizing the Latin Mass in his favor, knowing that “bishops vs the Latin Mass” is red meat for some traditionalist blogs.

Bishop Olson says in the letter that he is doing this for Michael King’s “soul.” The bishop understands that this is a personal intervention – and not an attack on Fisher More College or its students or the Latin Mass.

It’s a serious pastoral problem. Mr. King no doubt leaked Bp Olson’s letter via one of his few supporters to build sympathy before the inevitable financial collapse that will expose his mishandling of Fisher More College. Mr. King, more than anything, would like to blame the inevitable collapse of FMC (within only weeks or months) on the bishop’s “persecution of the Latin Mass.”

Hold your peace. Watch for how it unfolds, and most of all pray for the students that are still dutifully studying and praying. There are some GREAT students at Fisher More College.

As one who loves and prays the Latin Mass, please don’t curse or blame Bishop Olson for this one. He is a new bishop who inherited a TOUGH pastoral problem. Pray for him. And if you love the Latin Mass, don’t be so quick to judge the bishops or cite canon law. Sometimes there are things behind the scenes that you don’t know.

1 Cor 11:1-2 If I speak with the tongues of men, and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

*Regarding Summorum Pontificum in this situation. It doesn’t apply here since the college chapel does not have a priest requesting to say the Latin Mass and the chapel therefore falls under the direct pastoral control of the bishop. It’s the case of a layman (Michael King) asking for it. Those accusing Bishop Olson of breaking canon law or despising Summorum Pontificum should be more careful. Moreover, be assured that Bishop Olson supports the FSSP in his diocese and has nothing against the Extraordinary Form.

Steve Greydanus summorums up the situation:

 Dear hysterical Latin Mass Only Catholics: a) This bishop is not your real enemy. b) You are.

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