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Why I became a blogger

'Bloggers are diehards. They will not allow anyone to curtail their freedom'

  • C. M. Paul, Rome
  • Italy
  • April 27, 2011
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I got into blogging almost three years ago out of sheer frustration at news items being delayed for publication due to censorship.

“Why don’t you start your own blog,” suggested a friendly Kolkata-based web admin guy who was aware of my frustration. He was kind enough to give me a free blog site address to get registered.

The irony is he still does not have a blog of his own.

Blogging today is extremely popular among people with special interests and there were over 156 million public blogs on the Web, as of February 2011.

“Congratudolences on being chosen to be one of the bloggers at the first Vatican meet scheduled for May 2 [sounds like a great title for a comedy-monster-from-space movie],” wrote a journalist friend.

Expressing his apprehension, the same Japanese colleague said, “I know you and the others there will face an uphill battle to get across to the powers that be that modern communications require a modern mindset. It would be unrealistic of me to wish you victory, but I wish you and all the others good allies, good fun and a renewed commitment to share the Word with the world.”

“No worries about the Vatican trying to ‘control bloggers,’” I assured him, adding, “Bloggers are diehards… They will not allow anyone to curtail their freedom.”

"If PCCS [Pontifical Council for Social Communications] guys try that, it will backfire on them,” I assured friends suspicious of the Vatican’s “blognic” intentions.

Driven by passion, I started out on my own with no experience, yet knowing full well the demands of maintaining a regular blog with issues and topics of interest for discussion and debate.

Christening the blog “NewsGrab” was indeed harmless and apt as the stakeholders (bishops and superiors) don't read “silly” blogs.

A communications professional, Allwyn Fernandes of Mumbai has this advice for communicators: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind do not matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”

The major worry of bishops and superiors, who are seldom bloggers, is fear of misuse and abuse.

Sometimes bloggers are a nuisance, upsetting social mores or religious decorum, and are almost iconoclastic. Some members of the hierarchy dismiss bloggers disparagingly, with one bishop lamenting, “these bloggers claim to be more Catholic than anyone… with no mandate, no authority and no accountability! And they speak very definitively about what it means to be Catholic, and they're followed by so many people."

What bishops and religious superiors fear is “accountability and violation of charity.” Yet bloggers know that they can be very quickly brought to account if they say something untrue or misleading, and their opinions can be quickly quoted, analyzed, supported or refuted.

The real problem lurking behind this caution is with the Internet. “Everyone including bishops are now accountable [well, at least a bit more accountable] about how they spend Church money. Priests, bishops, nuns and catechists are now more accountable for what they say, teach and preach. One stupid remark from the pulpit on a Sunday can be all over the blogosphere.”

Church law grants Catholics a voice when it says: “According to the knowledge, competence and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.” (Canon Law 212 §3).

A US sister blogger warns of some practical dangers in blogging. “An issue has arisen a few times with women in formation using their personal blogs to vent about people in the community.” She cautions sister bloggers, “before people start blogging there needs to be some education about the media, the permanency of things posted on the Web, and awareness that sisters represent their congregation rather than their personal selves.”

Some provincial may not like a simple blog item which puts things in perspective “as it would jeopardize,” his or her plans.

The young sister insists, “I am pro-blogs, but they need to have clear topics, themes and a sense of professionalism and appropriate boundaries in order to be blogs worth my while to read. Someday I may begin blogging again, but as it is, I am too busy with studies and ministry.”

What started in 1997 as Web log, slowly evolved into a blog enabling commoners to be heard around the world.

You can read CM Paul's blog NewsGrab here
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