where is the catholic dialogue?

I continue to struggle to write regularly. Recently, the frustration is compounded by increasing guilt.

The purpose of catholic dialogue is to provide a forum for dialogue on issues confronting the church and the world. This blog opened the doors for me to write for two publications that I admired and respected. The first was the Prairie Messenger here in Canada. The second was the National Catholic Reporter in the US.

I stopped writing for both publications when life circumstances overtook my mind and heart. I didn’t lose interest in “things catholic”, but I did lose the passion required to stay on top of the minutiae of daily/weekly church news. I tried to “stay in touch” with reading, but the writing didn’t come.

I regret it.

The presses have stopped at the Prairie Messenger. The end was announced a year ago. I tried not to think about it. The year whizzed by and the final issues were published. Many commentaries and letters were written by writers and readers, mourning the loss of the last independent Catholic newspaper in Canada.

Quietly. Privately, I mourned also.

I still remember the pure joy and excitement when Maureen Weber, associate editor of the PM, invited me to write a regular column. She gave this insecure writer confidence, and I discovered a soul mate and friend. I regret not continuing the writing. I regret even more not contributing in these final months. It is the regret of many a mourner. If only I had said ____, before they were gone.

The Prairie Messenger reported on church news locally, nationally, and internationally. More importantly, and this was repeated over and over in the many tributes, the PM provided a forum for dialogue; often on issues that were considered “not to be discussed”.

What is left? We have an archdiocesan newsletter that is published every three months. (How’s that for timely news!) Its scant pages are filled with photos of the bishop and priests, parish celebrations, meetings and workshops. It is no more than a PR rag, of interest only to the faithful involved in various parish/diocesan activities.

Over at the National Catholic Reporter, the independent newspaper continues to produce high quality reporting and opinion articles. An excellent example is NCR Rome correspondent, Joshua J. McElewee’s latest article,  Bishops’ prosecutions may point to new phase in church’s sex abuse crisis.

One of the best features of the online version of the National Catholic Reporter was its lively discussion forum. Sadly, the editorial team struggled for years to maintain a safe, civil discourse, but the trolls kept coming. The discussions turned nastier and nastier. The discussion boards were finally shut down. The dialogue that enriched and gave life to the articles was no more.

I follow several Catholic writers, theologians, and publications on Twitter (yes…she guiltily admits she is back on Twitter…sigh). It keeps me informed on the latest news/commentary on “things catholic” from all positions on the lib/trad spectrum. Unfortunately, there is little feedback or dialogue.

So, what to do with all this regret and guilt?

All I can do is try to write.

And keep writing.

14 thoughts on “where is the catholic dialogue?

    1. Hi Louis.

      Do you mean The Catholic Register here in Canada? The Catholic Register ( https://www.catholicregister.org ) is owned by the Archdiocese of Toronto, and is a good source for church news. The Archdiocese of Vancouver also has a newspaper, The BC Catholic( https://bccatholic.ca ) The Archdiocese of Edmonton used to publish the Western Catholic Reporter, but publication ended in September 2016.

      The Prairie Messenger was unique in that it was not owned by a diocese, but by the Benedictine Monks in Muenster, SK. It’s “local” coverage focused on Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

      Thanks for pointing out the omission!

  1. I hope that you can find a way to continue writing, Isabella. There is a real need for a place where people can talk about things Catholic.

  2. With Alexandra I hope you will continue Isabella. I appreciate your gift and perspective. There is a need for a Canada based discussion board. While it seems there is less interest in Cda that does not negate the need. Religious as well as spiritual growth, I believe, depends largely upon communal discourse. Leaving leadership to the “institutionally dependent”, while instructive, is pretty much accepting complacency for the “what is”. Tapping into whatever energy there might be, keeping it alive, providing a stimulus, may seem at times futile but it is a substantial “giving”.

    1. HI Dennis,

      I’m guilty of turning my eyes more to the happenings south of us than in our own Canada – whether in politics or the church. You’re right. This does not negate the need here in our own land. I do believe there is energy waiting to be tapped into – energy that is pondering, questioning, and wanting to dialogue on new ways of being church. New ways of being spiritual/religious.

      This blog will never pretend to hold all the answers. Hopefully it can be a springboard to more questions! 😉

  3. You cannot be faulted for concern with “happenings south of us”; it/they/he is having a significant impact here. It/he/they are actually legitimizing a similar divisiveness at home as well, and questions about what church is and/or should be. (It/they/he has certainly provoked questions in me on the nature of evil and how it expresses itself and how evil actually is an operant force).
    I find it interesting that Church of incarnation, of profoundly declared commitment to values, to reason, to discernment chooses to tolerate the immense and surging evil of trumpism and not rise in defense of truth, honesty, value, inclusion and the ambiguity of integrity. We…ourselves as a society and as Church are more like our brothers, sisters, politicians and hierarchy than we are different.
    It is becoming ever more clear, to me, that as you note, “new ways of being church. New ways of being spiritual/religious” are of importance.

  4. Isabella, I love your blog and hungrily open it each time I’m notified that a new post has arrived in my inbox! Please don’t stop writing–even if not “regular.” So many of us need a voice and perspective that is not driven by the “party line.” This community that reads you gives me hope that the Church’s “tent” still has a place for me!

    Keep on writing! Big hugs, Marceta

  5. I know first hand your struggle on many levels, but please from one who mourns the loss of your wit, fearless honesty and inspired insight, please keep writing.

  6. Yes,Isabella keep writing.I always appreciate reading your blogs.Your voice represent thousands of people that have similar struggles and no outlet.

  7. Isabella, I just discovered this post. Great to hear from you, to tell it like it is, to share here. Thanks for that. I am reminded of this quote from Anne Lamott: “If something inside of you is real, we will probably find it interesting, and it will probably be universal. So you must risk placing real emotion at the center of your work. Write straight into the emotional center of things. Write toward vulnerability. Risk being unliked. Tell the truth as you understand it. If you’re a writer you have a moral obligation to do this. And it is a revolutionary act—truth is always subversive.” – Anne Lamott

    Grace and peace in the days to come.

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