22Apr Anonymous comments should not be posted here

Lest Marcus gets too cross that this website doesn’t always put up his comments, I would like to declare my strong preference that this website would stop putting anonymous comments like his up, at all. While the ACP Leadership team, whom he is critical of, are well known, we have no idea who he is and an anonymous comment, I firmly believe, is not worthy of a platform such as this one. The inclusion of such comments, reduces the respect many have for the site and it limits many others I know – particularly ACP members – from contributing as well. Can I appeal again for consideration of this point. Maybe a survey, on this issue, to your members might give you some more worthwhile data to consider!

Michael O’Brien

Thank you, Michael, for your comment. This is an issue we have given some thought to.  We are told that technically it is not that easy to do, since it only takes a minute for someone to set up an email account under a false name. But unfortunately it is true that, while most people are perfectly happy to have their name attached to their comment, the majority of those who send in disapproving comments do so under a pseudonyn. For instance, one person who sends in anything up to six comments per day uses an email address to which there is no response when I try to contact him/her. And he/she gets very annoyed when all the comments are not displayed. We will continue to explore this, and would welcome comments from our members about it.

In the meantime I would ask those who wish to put in a comment to please give us their full name and a proper email address, meaning one that will reply to us if we attempt to contact you. Certainly from now on those who identify themselves will have a much better chance of being posted.

The Moderators.

 

19 Responses

  1. Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.

    Keeping secrets has not served us, as a Church, well. While appreciating that some names may be false I would much prefer that anonymous comments, or ‘part-name’ comments would not be posted.

  2. Pól Ó Duibhir

    I am surprised that the anonymous comments are tending to come from those who are critical of the Association. I would have expected it to be the other way round.
    .
    I think it is very reasonable to only publish comments from people with verifiable email addresses. Everyone who is online will have an email address and if they don’t they could organise to identify themselves to the moderators in other ways. Even this is not a full solution as email addresses, as pointed out, can be set up at the drop of a hat.
    .
    There is a problem, though, in the current repressive atmosphere, for those who might wish to express support or make valid points critical of the current régime but who do not want to be purged of their ministry at the end of the day.
    .
    A part solution might be to produce a separate post from time to time indicating the the type of comments that have been coming in anonymously. That could balance the overall presentation and at the same time largely avoid allowing any individuals who might be posting in bad faith the cloak of anonymity.
    .
    While not among them, and not being a current member of either the clergy or the RC Church or a believer, I do have sympathy for those who, for valid reasons, wish to post anonymously and in goog faith.
    .
    I have been following the Jersey, CI, child abuse cover up/scandal for the last few years and it is the norm there for blog commenters to post anonymously.
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    The problem there is that many of the commenters are survivors who want to be heard but do not want to either engage in public controversy or bring the further wrath of a vindictive régime down on their heads.
    .
    The Jersey bloggers have got a fair idea over time of who is and who is not posting in good faith and they make a fair fist of limiting comments to those which are genuine.
    .
    There is no perfect solution to this problem in the current circumstances.
    .
    It is also worth keeping in mind that any database of email addresses is always liable to discovery at the end of the day.
    .

  3. Malachi O'Doherty

    My concern is that the comment I tried to post was removed without explanation or answer. My name was on it – Malachi O’Doherty. if you wish to have an exclusive conversation within a defined circle, you should, of course, be entitled to have that but many of the postings here assert the right to free expression and some have defined the circle you wish to involve as ‘all who have ben baptised’. Unless you have checked my baptismal lines and found them wanting, you should perhaps, in the interests of consistency, allow me to join the conversation or pose questions. I assure you, I am not going to be a pest.

  4. Chris McDonnell

    The qustion of anonymity raised by this posting is very important. If someone has an opinion, either for or against a particular posting, then they should have the honesty to say who they are and where they are coming from. Isn’t this precisely the issue so many have criticised in respect of current discussions, the secrecy and undercover actions of the CDF and other Vatican officials who wish to silence opinion and do so in a private and underhand fashion? Blog comment is only valuable if it is open and honest and we are able to respect each other; otherwise it is worthless. The phrase “having the courage of your convictions” comes to mind.
    Chris McDonnell Staffordshire UK

  5. Jane Reilly

    I would not expect, nor think it necessary, that a forensic check be done on all comments which are included on your website, but I agree it is often very obvious from the content and tone of comments made, who is declaring their real name and who is using a pseudonym.
    ‘Spot checks’ may be a good first step and it would encourage people to be more honest when making comments.
    And if the moderator is unsure about the authenticity of any person then a good approach might be ‘If in doubt leave it out’
    Yes it’s difficult for those who can be ‘silenced’ to perhaps make their views known publicly now but it’s of no service to anyone to make comments if you won’t stand with them.
    Surely if we’ve learned anything from the procedure used by the church in silencing priests it must be that anyone who makes a comment / complaint anonymously is not being fair to others.
    And I agree it may well be preventing others from engaging with your webpage.

  6. Jim Stack

    I am not sure if this is the appropriate thread for what I have to say, but none of the others seems any more suitable, and (before I take my leave of this site) I do feel an explanation from me is warranted.

    I wrote to the Irish Times about two weeks ago, at a time when messages of support for Fr Flannery et al were pouring in on this website, talking of martyrdom etc.

    My letter was published only this morning, and I am now a little embarrassed by it. After two weeks on your website, I came to the conclusion that no purpose was being served by the two sides sniping at, and scoring points off each other. While I never came close to the ACP position, and never pretended to, I did come to realise that you were sincere in your views and that there were far more of you sharing these views. Please God, a way will be found to keep you all within the Church to which you have dedicated your lives.

    I will keep an eye on this site, in case anyone wants me to reply, but otherwise I do not intend making any more contributions.

    God bless you all.

  7. Adrian Egan, C.Ss.R.

    Jim, you’ve been very honest, very genuine and very sincere. It’s been lovely and good to hear from you, sharing your views in a way that all can learn from. You represent an important point of view that we need to hear. And you’ve been couragous, open, passionate and respectful in expressing that view Please do not be embarrassed or feel you must take your leave of this site. The purpose of all decent and healthy debate, argument and dialogue is that we listen, engage and learn from one another. All are welcome here. I’m learning from you. So, thank you. Please stay.

  8. Soline Humbert

    Jim,thank you for your great personal honesty in your sharing(s).
    I wholeheartedly join in your prayerful hope concerning the priests /theologians currently silenced:
    “Please God, a way will be found to keep you all within the Church to which you have dedicated your lives”.
    There is space for all of us in the heart of our loving God: May it be so in our church.We are all brothers and sisters in Christ with the same Father and Mother….
    God bless you too Jim.May the Risen Christ easter in you!

  9. Jo O'Sullivan

    I heartily endorse what Adrian and Soline have said to Jim.Please continue to comment whenever the Spirit tells you to, Jim.

    Your vey courageous admission that you see things slightly differently now – that you accept the sincerity of the likes of myself – is the most uplifting few words I’ve ever read here!

    I don’t ask that anyone else sees my world view as being the whole picture, but I dearly wish that they accept that my picture is true and genuine and honest from my perspective.

    And the only way they’re going to find that out is by listening to me.

    And, in turn, I need to listen to them.

    So thank you Jim and Martin and Seán (Derry) and Gearoid Mary and all of you others who speak here as well as those of you who speak words that I’ve never quite been able to put together, but, once I hear them, I can say “Yes! That’s MY truth too.”

    We actually need each other because we love our Catholic faith and, in our own ways, are fighting for its survival.

  10. vincent prunty

    When you write to a newspaper you must give a name and address.Also a telephone number.It should be the same for the internet.If you want to have your say identify yourself.

  11. Sandra mc sheaffrey

    I loved the name anonymous when as a young child being introduced to poetry. It looked romantic, like a building along the main street of my town, named Ebenezer Hall. I wanted to have my name on the wall of my house. Then, as Pat Ingoldsby said in one of his many profound poems,”then, I learned some more.” Anonymous lost its attraction for me. However, at least in the context of poetry it did not connote cowardice. Or is it fear? If a person does not wish to give a name then I see no duty to publish.

  12. Sean O'Driscoll

    Anonymous comments that I have read on this site are rarely ones that offer a positive contribution to the debate.A comment that is anonymous and does not adhere to basic etiquette of comment as outlined, should not get this platform for the expression of nasty hurtful comments. There may be specific cause for someone to remain anonymous, but if they have a positive contribution to make, from whichever angle, then I think it would be worth publishing it.

  13. Danielle Hicks-Gallagher

    it’s true that when you write to a newspaper you have to give a name and address – but you can request that your comment remains anonymous, under various pen names – “Concerned local”, “Visitor” etc – these are generally then suffixed with “Name and Address supplied”.

    Could the ACP look in to some variant of this? Because I do understand that there may be occasions when people who have valid comments do not want their (full) name associated with it for one reason or another – particularly given the current climate of censure.

    And as I suggested when this topic was originally raised, perhaps you could provide your members with passworded, individual accounts upon joining/renewal of membership fees. When comments come from these accounts, the name could be in a different colour, or font, to distinguish from the current free commenting, and so anyone reading would know that a comment came either from a paid up member of ACP, or from someone that the forum moderator could not be entirely sure of the identity.

  14. Noel Clarke

    Secrecy is at the heart of the Roman culture, manifested so powerfully in the confessional.
    Given the culture of to-day, attaching your identity to any comment that smacks of disloyalty to Rome is an act of naive bravery or an invitation to be silenced.
    How powerful are the “unsigned comments” received by local bishops that rail against the local priest?
    In your Bishop’s palace, in your personal folder, how many such anonymous scripts? When the “anonymous” is accorded such power of destruction by the local ordinary,how greater the power when vented from Rome.
    It would be healthy if all who seek a voice in the church were accorded the honor of knowing that the opinion is respected as ought the name attached to such comments.
    I remain a priest of Christ who used be a priest of Rome. I now counsel priests, some currently in ministry to Rome and some who used be. A named voice is preferable to the anonymous and the anonymous is preferable to the mute.
    The mute voices of priests, whose emotional self wanders in the desert of secrecy, whose emotional self, screams to be
    heard and listened to, are met with deafening silence. This reflects the toxic cauldron whose lid has been blown away. Who is not aware of the spilled contents?
    The voices of Irish clergy that Rome continues to silence are the voices of the many priests who lack the courage to speak their own name.Such is the voice of this association.
    Claim your name, your authentic self and go shout it on the mountain top. And know Rome will clobber you.

  15. Jim Stack

    I had decided against further contributions on this site because I felt that, while I was being published (and therefore treated fairly), I was not being listened to. There are still some nasty comments about traditional Catholics appearing on this website, and not many of you are distancing yourselves from these comments. However, if people like me stop contributing entirely, then new visitors to this site will see only one side of the story. Just as they see only one side of the story in the media. That is not a healthy state of affairs.

    Two comments relevant to this particular thread: 1.The postings above seem to be largely in favour of silencing/censoring certain contributions. The irony of this seems to have been lost on everyone at ACP! 2. For me, the best contributions to this site, by some distance, came from A Rural Priest. It would be a shame to lose contributions from someone of this calibre because, for reasons not known to the rest of us, he does not wish to identify himself.

  16. Eddie Finnegan

    Jim, this question of anonymous posting or not was discussed pretty exhaustively here, beginning 29th January [Search “Mary Ruane” in Search Box at top of page]. Exhaustively (52 comments, some of them boringly long, some impenetrable, only 5 of them under an obvious pseudonym), though not conclusively, it seems. Unfortunately, Mary Ruane herself never posted before or since!

    Jim, I’ve now seen your two posts here and, on checking back through other threads, at least two or three of your earlier comments. Some of your more ‘conservative’ or ‘mainstream’ or ‘traditional’ statements I certainly agree with; others I would disagree with, maybe not in substance but in your manner of contraposing them. The vast majority of priests or laypersons who feel at home on this ACP website are not ‘one-trick ponies’ or raving liberals. Most of us between, say, the ages of 50 and 85 are a curious blend of ‘traditional’, ‘conservative’, ‘mainstream’ on most aspects of Catholic belief, practice, morality and spirituality, enriched by a varying continuum of more progressive or even liberal convictions developed through the simple process of living a life or, in the case of priests, living the life of a Catholic pastor in a rapidly changing Ireland and Irish church.

    But, Jim, you seem to have a bit of a “thing” about how your contributions are viewed here; or that you are not being listened to. That, despite very welcoming comments from several people on this and other threads. And no, the discussion here and in January about identification/verification or anonymity is not about excluding views from across the spectrum – it’s about openness and trust.

  17. Jim Stack

    Reply to Eddie Finnegan
    Thank you for your comment.

    It was brought to my attention, shortly after I first contributed to this site, that I was wrong to assume that I spoke for the majority of Catholics – and the subsequent publication of the ACP survey results seemed to bear this out. Since then, I have written in the first person almost exclusively. If this gives the impression that I think that this site is somehow all about me, and my treatment,then that impression is false.

    Yes, there have been welcoming comments,and no nasty comments personally directed against me, but the tone of very many comments, subsequent to my contributions, continues to be hostile to traditional Catholics. Just cast an eye over postings for the last two weeks, and I think you will agree that this is a fair observation. That is what I meant by “not being listened to”.

    Your description of your fellow priests in ACP is interesting and informative. To someone like me, who knows none of you personally, but only through published articles and this website, it comes as a surprise that there is such diversity among you.

    I could have done a better job of explaining my observation about “irony”. The leadership of the ACP have discussed among themselves what contributions should, and should not, be made public, and will eventually decide on a particular policy. This sounds to me very like what the CDF have been doing with priests, to the obvious displeasure of so many of you.

  18. Jim Stack

    Sorry, me again. I have to correct one part of my earlier post. I looked again at posts for the last two weeks, and it is not accurate to say of them that “very many comments” are hostile to traditional Catholics. I withdraw this remark, and therefore also my earlier remark about not being listened to.

  19. Eddie Finnegan

    Jim, Jim!
    Get to know the ACP website if you want to make a positive, though different, contribution. But I’d also suggest going on to a number of very different “Catholic websites”, whether in Ireland, UK, USA etc. I’m thinking of some of the conservative, sometimes extremely right-wing, fora which portray themselves as conservators of the one true Church, “protect our Pope” etc. Reflect on their and their anonymous commenters’ reactions to anyone who might venture into their midst with the slightest question mark over the site’s “orthodoxy”. Then come back to this site and you’ll see that the ACP and those lay contributors who support the Association’s approach and objectives are paragons of moderation and welcome.

    A further clarification: when the ACP launched in September 2010, the leadership thought it a good idea to set up this website as a forum for the ACP members to discuss, reflect and have a voice (See the “ABOUT US” box at top of this page). Unfortunately, in my opinion, very few priests (even from the 800-900 ACP members) have taken up the invitation and, I suppose, the challenge to contribute regularly or at all. Nature abhors a vacuum, I suppose, so surprise, surprise! in the virtual absence of the nation’s parish priests in this virtual parish/diocese, laywomen and men took up the slack with the unintended result that the ACP Website has never been quite what it was intended to be: a forum and voice for priests whose voices had been somewhat muted in the previous decade or two.
    So, Jim, don’t begrudge the ACP, or any other group of priests, an occasional voice in “the media” and don’t hurl charges in their direction such as “you take our money and don’t listen to us”. If, like the CDF, you feel like going on an occasional sniping expedition, please choose your targets a little more carefully.