Monday, April 16, 2018


I have to say this Archbishop is very clear, unambiguous and his solutions most welcomed. Rome should follow suit!

The Maronite Church: Stop the online “doctrinal brawls”

A document signed by Patriarch Béchara Raï tries to curb the controversy and personal attacks unleashed over some aspects of the Church’s doctrine and teachings. A rampant phenomenon that even Pope Francis takes into consideration in his Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et exsultate”
The Maronite Patriarch Béchara Raï

Pubblicato il 16/04/2018
Ultima modifica il 16/04/2018 alle ore 14:35
Intra-ecclesial online brawls on doctrinal matters are now spreading among Christians in the East. A drift that the Maronite Church is now trying to counter with a singular initiative: a doctrinal handbook, with pastoral instructions, which paradoxically is directed not to those who approach Christianity for the first time, but to all those - priests, religious, self-proclaimed experts and “insiders”, internet “gurus”, and lay “militants” belonging some ecclesial acronym or gang - who on traditional media and social networks are turning the contents of the Catholic faith into a relentless battlefield. 

The document, signed by the Maronite Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï, is entitled “The truth that liberates and unites”: it was released on Monday 9 April, and presented as a doctrinal compendium to which all those who speak or debate on questions and issues concerning the Catholic faith and the teaching of the Church must adhere. 

One of the declared objectives of the patriarchal pronouncement is to neutralize the spiral of controversy, personal attacks, poisonous doctrinal accusations launched against priests, bishops through small virtual doctrinal tribunals that are now multiplying even in the Maronite blogosphere, often using fake social media accounts. The patriarchal text tries to “set things straight” by claiming the magisterial function of ecclesiastical authority, represented “in the person of the Patriarch and the bishops”. The document calls on members of the clergy and religious communities to deal with doctrinal and ethical issues in the media only after obtaining the authorization of their own bishop or superior; it reminds all “web communicators” the canonical dispositions that would eventually affect those who misuse the media to transmit ideas and contents that are not compatible with the teaching of the Church, or those who slander others by acting far from any spirit of “fraternal correction”.  

The trolling inquisitors  
The case of Ramzi Jreige was the tip of this alarming iceberg of these emerging “virtual pulpits” exploited to strike attacks on doctrinal matters. Jreige was a priest who got targeted with heavy accusations after he had broadcasted an episode on Marian devotion on his own tv show on a network not linked to the Church. The internet swarms with videos against bishops, while around single figures - who claim themselves guarantors of doctrinal orthodoxy - small “online churches” made up of fanatical followers are joining together to hunt down heretics and “enemies”. 

The doctrinal Handbook  
As the Maronite bishops realized that the ferocity of the attacks online along with the endless controversy on doctrinal issues was sowing confusion and bewilderment among the baptized, many faithful have turned to the Patriarch and the bishops to ask for action, which took form in the six chapters document, a sort of doctrinal “handbook” aimed at proposing anew the official teaching of the Church on the issues and themes most often used as a pretext to fuel intra-ecclesial brawls and ad personam attacks on social media.  

The list of topics covered by the patriarchal document is more than eloquent. Among other things, the Patriarch is called to clarify and repeat that the divine public Revelation was fully accomplished with Jesus and is considered to have ended with the death of the last of the Apostles, and that private revelations do not add content to the Depositum fideiThe Patriarch reiterates that the truths of faith are not subject to revision and correction in their content because they are based on divine Revelation, but at the same time the Holy Spirit enlightens the Church and guides her in deepening her knowledge of the Mystery. About Hell, the Patriarch echoes the Catechism of the Catholic Church that describes it as a “state” of permanent self-exclusion from communion with God, and not a physical place; he also repeats that the Church rejects the Apocatastasis doctrine, according to which at the end of time, all creatures, including Satan, will be reintegrated into the fullness of the divine. On the worshipping of Mother Mary and the saints, the document repeats that their intercession is based on the sole mediation of Christ, the one and only Saviour. And regarding the devil, chapter V of the document rejects the theories and conceptions that attribute him absolute power over the world, arriving at conceiving him as a “bad divinity” capable of competing with the omnipotence of God. The document also calls for sobriety and moderation in the prayers and healing rites, recalling that exorcism practices must also be carried out under the supervision of the bishop, avoiding every kind of media spectacularization. 

Pastoral instructions  
In Chapter VI, the one containing pastoral indications, the Maronite Patriarch reaffirms that those who use social media, writings, teaching and any other activity to spread content incompatible with the doctrine of the Church are sinning against Christ, “who taught the truth and handed it over to the Church”. In this regard, the document reiterates that under “Church laws and special Maronite law”, members of diocesan and religious clergy who wish to use the media to present programs or deal with matters of faith must obtain special permission from the bishops of their dioceses and superiors.  

Global contamination  
Already in June 2017, during their annual synod - as Fides Agency reports - the Maronite bishops had requested the drafting of a theological-pastoral compendium that would also serve as a reference tool to attempt to regulate online disputes over doctrinal issues. On that occasion, Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï denounced the weakening of the “theological, dogmatic and spiritual preparation” of the clergy, which he linked to the phenomenon of priests committed to self-applauding for their presence on the media. 

It is still too early to measure the effects of the Maronite Patriarchate’ initiative taken in an attempt to counter the fierce controversy and personal attacks that loom over the ecclesial environment. Most certainly the pastoral concern and critical approach expressed in the document echo some of the considerations expressed in Gaudete et exsultate, Pope Francis’ last Apostolic Exhortation, “Christians too “ the Bishop of Rome writes in the text he signed last March 19 “can be caught up in networks of verbal violence through the internet and the various forums of digital communication. Even in Catholic media, limits can be overstepped, defamation and slander can become commonplace, and all ethical standards and respect for the good name of others can be abandoned”. Thus - the Pope adds - “ people look to compensate for their own discontent by lashing out at others”. While it would be appropriate to keep in mind, especially within the Church, that “ It is not good when we look down on others like heartless judges, lording it over them and always trying to teach them lessons “.  


Marc said...

I'm confused: Francis says we shouldn't be Pelagians, but he just told a little boy that his dead father is in heaven because he was "good."

Bean said...

Even people with high IQs and various academic degrees must desist? But, but, but then how will we know what the Church teaches??

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Bean at April 16, 2018 at 1:41 pm said:

"But, but, but then how will we know what the Church teaches??"

Well, Bean, luckily you are not in the Marionite Church, and so you are not under obedience to Patriarch Béchara Raï, and so can continue to spout whatever nonsense you took away from your heterodox seminary training.

How lucky the Marionites are to have such a good shepherd to protect them from the wolves spreading, if not heresy, heterodox beliefs. Would that Roman Catholics were so lucky...

God bless.

Henry said...

Another take (from

"Maronite Patriarch Béchara Raï issues threatening, insulting letter to try and stop 'online doctrinal brawls,' chill Catholic voice in faithless FrancisChurch"

Marc said...

Kavanaugh, if you keep being mean, you might just get annihilated. You're never going to get to Francis-heaven unless you start being good.

Anonymous said...

Unrelated - Augustan Aaron Pidel, SJ, writes

Bean said...

Mean? Mean? I'm not being mean. I am concerned in the extreme that people with very high IQs and lots of elite academic ivory tower cred might be silenced!

If they can't tell us authoritatively what the Church teaches we may have to start relying on those with the actual, bona fide, charism to teach... Bishops!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Fr. Pidell, SJ was my parishioner at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Augusta and is a contemporary of Savannah's Vicar General both of whom were children when I became their pastor in 1991 and both of whom were my altar boys. Most Holy Trinity produced more priests for our Diocese plus two Jesuits and one Dominican than any other parish in our diocese!

Marc said...

What you gonna do when the Francis-annihiliation comes for you.