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Bishop Robert BarronClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

Through two decades of scandal, our shepherds have forfeited the trust of the faithful. How could we trust them to police Catholic media?

By Phil Lawler, LifeSiteNews,

February 10, 2020 ( — Bishop Robert Barron kicked off a heated online debate last month with his proposal “to introduce something like a mandatum for those who claim to teach the Catholic faith online, whereby a bishop affirms that the person is teaching within the full communion of the Church.” The suggestion that bishops would give their stamp of approval to some Catholic bloggers — and, more important, deny it to others — is terribly wrongheaded. Our bishops have much more important work to do.

In making his proposal Bishop Barron said: “I do think that the shepherds of the Church, those entrusted with supervising the teaching office, can and should point out when people on social media are harming the Body of Christ.” But his proposed solution — which has been dubbed online a “yellow check” system — is mainly a reaction against the dangerous level of vitriol that is unfortunately evident in some corners of the Catholic blogosphere. The proposal does not distinguish carefully between two different sorts of offenses: offenses against civility and offenses against doctrine.

Some online commentators employ a nasty tone. They deserve rebukes and admonitions and fraternal corrections — not just from prelates but from all good Catholics who notice the offenses. But the particular role of a Catholic bishop is to preserve the integrity of doctrine. If Bishop Barron had suggested that bishops denounce any online commentators who preach heresy, I would have quickly agreed. By emphasizing the question of editorial tone, however, he introduced a much more subjective judgment. In handing out the yellow checks, it seems, the bishop is not asking: “Does this site contradict established Catholic doctrine?” Instead he is asking: “Do I approve of this site’s approach?” The difference is enormous. ….

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