Archbishop Nichols tells Catholic blogs to stop complaining because it destroys love in the Church

I had intended to write on this following + Vin Nichols recent criticism of bloggers, but Deacon Nick ( has dealt with it much more succinctly than I could. It is interesting that William Oddie has also witten on this equally eloquently.(


In his homily given during the Diocese of Westminster’s Mass for Pope Francis Archbishop Nichols criticised blogs for spreading complaints and destroying love in the Church. Archbishop Nichols quoted Pope Francis’ reflection on the disciples complaining on their journey to Emmaus:

‘Pope Francis understands this in practical terms. He has already identified two kinds of behaviour that destroy love in the Church. They are complaining and gossiping. He is a practical man. He knows that we live in a society in which complaining and gossip is a standard fare. They sell newspapers and attract us to blogs because we love hear complaints and to read gossip.

But Pope Francis is clear: they should have no place in the Church.

He reminded us that the disciples, on the road to Emmaus were sad and complaining. He added: ‘and the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves. They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall.’ Complaining and griping about others, about things in one’s own life, is harmful, he said ‘because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.’ Then, in another memorable phrase, he added that some ‘stew their lives in the juice of their own complaining.’

Archbishop Nichols concluded:

‘We, as Catholics, are always ready to profess our love for the Lord. But now Pope Francis is calling us to show that love in down-to-earth ways. How wonderful it would be if our Church was known to be a place that was free of the sound of complaining and the whisper of gossip! Then the light of Christ would indeed shine brightly.’

Here is Pope Francis’ actual reflection on complaining:

“They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid,” he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining. “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall,” the Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio.

The disciples had had such high hopes that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said on Wednesday.

“And they stewed, so to speak, their lives in the juice of their complaints and kept going on and on and on with the complaining,” the Pope said. “I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints.”

When all people can think of is how wrong things are going, Pope Francis said, the Lord is close, “but we don’t recognise him. He walks with us, but we don’t recognise him.”

Like the disciples joined by the risen Lord on the road to Emmaus, people can hear beautiful things, but deep down, they continue to be afraid, the Pope told the congregation.

“Complaining seems safer. It’s something certain. This is my truth: failure,” he said before adding that the Gospel story shows how very patient Jesus is with the disciples, first listening to them and then explaining things step by step, until they see him.

Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”

Protect the Pope comment: There are two things to observe when comparing Archbishop Nichols references to complaining and Pope Francis’ actual words: firstly, Pope Francis is referring to Christians complaining about personal difficulties in life, not about all complaints within the Church. The Holy Father said, ‘I think that many times when difficult things happen, including when we are visited by the cross, we run the risk of closing ourselves off in complaints’; secondly, Pope Francis doesn’t mention blogs.

Archbishop Nichols has pushed Pope Francis’ words beyond their original meaning to express his own personal desire that ‘the Church would be free from the sound of complaining’. Here Archbishop Nichols words echo his intemperate demand that faithful Catholics complaining about the Soho Masses should ‘hold their tongues’. Is this the silence that he hopes for in the Church of England and Wales?

So long as pastors in this country lend their patronage and support to self-styled theologians who are Catholic who promote early abortion, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, contraception, and women priests, faithful and loyal Catholics will continue to complain to the Holy See that we do not have pastors who will defend the faith and protect the flock from wolves. Deacon Nick Donnelly

About Gertrude

Sáncte Míchael Archángele, defénde nos in proélio, cóntra nequítiam et insídias diáboli ésto præsídium.
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16 Responses to Archbishop Nichols tells Catholic blogs to stop complaining because it destroys love in the Church

  1. johnhenrycn says:

    I will always read and ponder the words of Pope Francis with great respect for his erudition; but I fail to recognise any ‘complaints’ whatsoever voiced by the disciples on the road to Emmaus. Sadness, yes, but that’s not the same thing. I wonder if the English translation of HH’s words is reliable? But putting that to one side, what’s all this about ‘blogs’ being harmful to the Church? Presumably, Archbishop Nichols is referring to Catholic oriented blogs. If His Grace means Richard Dawkins’ blog, for example, ’nuff said – but no, it’s clear he means ‘Catholic’ blogs, or at least those ‘Catholic’ blogs of which he disapproves. Does he disapprove of The Tablet blog, if they have one, I wonder? Personally, although I never (and can’t) comment on Damian Thompson’s blog anymore, for ++Nichols to suggest, which I think he does, that blogs like Damian’s – with all his snide remarks about Ecclestone Square – harm the Church, by destroying love for the Church, is to confuse the Church with the clerical class. Never, not once, have I seen a post by Thompson which attacks the Church or Church teachings (although he is a bit ambiguous on homosexuality), despite his blog being replete with criticism, sometimes sarcastic, but never vulgar, about church leaders below the rank of Pope. I wonder what Vinnie (can I call him that?) thinks about Catholicism Pure & Simple?


  2. johnhenrycn says:

    In descending order, there are 5 classes of commenters on orthodox Catholic blogs:
    1. Those who respect the blog, but sometimes criticize it.
    2. Those who love the blog, but sometimes criticize it.
    3.Those who dislike the blog, but sometimes admire it.
    4.Those who defend the blog, and never criticize it.
    5. Those who hate the blog and always criticize it.
    Let’s consider the choices: “Respect…Love…Dislike…Defend…Hate…”
    Option 1 beats all the others, imo. Some may disagree – especially my picking 1 over 2 or 4 – but consider this: we should never be enamoured of what we humans do. I, for one, would never contribute to a Catholic opinion blog, much as I love the Church, even a blog as good as this one, unless it allowed views, assuming an underlying tolerance for our beliefs, opposed to our own.


  3. Toadsprattle says:

    Bit of mild bullying from The Vinster here, it seems to me.
    “Shut up rabble, I am an archbishop, and have a very splendid hat,, ” etc.
    Might be wrong, though.
    A very reasoned piece from JH, re abortion, on another thread, as well.


  4. johnhenrycn says:

    I appreciate your compliment, Mr. T, and I enjoy corresponding with you; but why have you again fallen into that old egocentric habit of yours – flipping through blog names? First Moratinos, then the despicable Toadspittle, then the respectable Toad, now the inscrutable Toadsprattle?

    Seriously, is there an *issue* behind your identity changes, or are you just bored with yourself?

    Your Obedient Servant,
    johnhenry (now and always)


  5. Gertrude says:

    JH: There are blogs – and bloggers that have from time to time justifiably criticized ++Nichols and some of his ‘pronouncements’ that appear to contradict the Magisterium. He is not a wholly popular Archbishop, and, when a shepherd neglects to feed his flock, the flock will look elsewhere for food.

    If there is an exit from Holy Mother Church (and this is not evident in all parts of the world, though the statistics for Europe are dismal) then it is for this reason alone – starvation.

    How much of this is due to the confusion (from some of our Bishop’s down) resulting in the misappropriation of the teachings of Vatican ll]I am not sure, but As always – I remain the eternal optimist 😉
    St Thomas Aquinas:
    It must be observed, however, that if the faith were endangered, a subject ought to rebuke his prelate even publicly. Hence Paul, who was Peter’s subject, rebuked him in public, on account of the imminent danger of scandal concerning faith, and, as the gloss of Augustine says on Galatians 2:11, “Peter gave an example to superiors, that if at any time they should happen to stray from the straight path, they should not disdain to be reproved by their subjects.”


  6. simple toad says:

    Just forgetful, JH.
    I have a new computer which is incomprehensible right now. So apologies in advance for mess-ups.


  7. kathleen says:

    It seems to me that Archbishop Nichols, feeling himself to be the victim of much criticism from traditional Catholics, is using Pope Francis’ words (dare I say twisting them?) to mean something rather different to the Pope’s original intention. What ++Nichols does not seem to realise is that Catholics have an obligation to put God’s Divine Law before that of the man, even an Archbishop, if his words or actions do not defend, or even go against, that of Christ’s Bride, the Catholic Church.

    Sadly I remember how when put to the test just after Pope Emeritus Benedict’s visit to the UK in 2010, when he (Nichols) was asked the question if he thought there would ever be a day when the Church would allow homosexual ‘marriage’, instead of coming out strongly denying such a possibility, he side-stepped the issue with the reply: “I really don’t know!”

    It takes guts to stand up for Christ and His Church – and many bishops do – but others fear the ‘wolves at the door’ who will attack them viciously, wherever such a valiant proclamation of the Truth is made.

    Perhaps we should send Archbishop Nichols our recent post on “Fear of the Lord”? 😉


  8. johnhenrycn says:

    Gertrude: Indeed so, and thoughts similar to those expressed by the Angelic Doctor were also expressed by St Vincent of Lerins, c. 434 AD:

    “What then will the Catholic Christian do, if a small part of the Church has cut itself off from the communion of the universal Faith? The answer is sure. He will prefer the healthiness of the whole body to the morbid and corrupt limb. But what if some novel contagion try to infect the whole Church, and not merely a tiny part of it? Then he will take care to cleave to antiquity, which cannot now be led astray by any deceit of novelty.”

    …by which I think he means we have a duty to criticise our ecclesiastical ‘betters’ when they veer from what the Church has always taught.
    Toad: No apologies needed. I’m a technological illiterate myself (mostly). Have never learned how to use an iPod, digital camera, Blackberry, etc. Hope your enjoying some pleasant weather finally.


  9. Frere Rabit says:

    “Perhaps we should send Archbishop Nichols our recent post on “Fear of the Lord”?”

    No, Kathleen, send him the link to Eccles’ luvvly blog.


  10. johnhenrycn says:

    Try as I might, I haven’t been able to access Eccles’ blog for many moons. The links never seem to work for me. I almost get there, but then everything freezes up. Must be his brother Bosco’s doing, and not his grate-anti moly, who seems to have given up blogging.


  11. johnhenrycn says:

    Shall not be here for awhile, but don’t want people to think (or hope:) I’ve gone away for good. There’s a Marian Day of Prayer coming up in these parts the day before Pentecost, and I’ve decided to go on a spiritual retreat, staying away from all social media, until then. One of the speakers will be an abortion supporter who died after being stuck by lightning. I shall return.


  12. johnhenrycn says:

    …sigh…“struck by lightning.”


  13. Brother Burrito says:

    Will he be addressing the meeting via a Ouija board?


  14. Gertrude says:

    JH: “One of the speakers will be an abortion supporter who died after being stuck by lightning.” (?)
    May we assume that he was ‘resurrected’? 😉

    Have a peaceful and blessed retreat and please – say an Ave for us poor sinners here.


  15. golden chersonnese says:

    Must be that Canado-Uralic irony again, dear readers.


  16. Toad says:

    What JH is trying to say is that one of the speakers was stuck by lightning to a Ouija board.
    Not uncommon.


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