16 January, 2010

Keeping "clean" on the muddy paths of the internet

Being new to the world of blogging, I am still learning many "virtual life" lessons. This fact has been made abundantly clear to me over the past day or two.

I was reminded that it is difficult to comprehend the line that separates our private from public lives. I have chosen to take the position with my own life to use my proper name and life situation in the public forum. Others have made different choices. Neither is right or wrong but it brought to mind the fact that there ought to be some sort of etiquette that applies to these internet exchanges. To date, I have not found such an item.

In one case, I had posted a request for prayers for a person that I have come to respect who had made know to me a particular prayer need. Alas in doing this I inadvertently crossed over the line where the private and public are divided. While he was (as always) gracious in pointing out my error, he did help me to see that whatever is posted on the internet lives on for a very long time.

This same lesson was taught again in another way when one of the posters on this site (and others as well) who repeats ad nauseum various charges and allegations about the Catholic Church was "outed" as a possible purveyor of child porn sites. I have always enjoyed my debates with the man I call "O/C", for amidst the nonsense he posts, he often demonstrated a keen mind which can bring elements to the topic that we are discussing that I had not previously known or considered. For this reason, I chose not to take offense at his allegations and personal insults and continued to participate in conversation with him.

However, a comment posted by someone else pointed out again the lesson about the permanence of our internet footprints by showing that if one were to google his online handle, one could see that there are incidents when someone with this same handle has visited and posted comments on various child pornography sites.

This somewhat shocking revelation put before me something to hurl back at him in the threads of the National Post's religion blog ("Holy Post") when he pushed on further with his insults and insinuations against the Church, its clergy and its practices.

He has subsequently challenged me to bring the matter to the Police, and this I have done. However, given the prevalence of aliases and on-line handles throughout the internet there may be little if anything that they can do. This being said, the scourge of child sexual abuse demands that we do all that we can to fight it in every way possible.

Yet, having done so in as clear and charitable manner as I could think of (asking why a search of his handle produced such disturbing results), I cannot help but feel "dirty" by participating in the exchange.

This is I fear not what the internet was intended for.

If anyone is aware of a site that publishes any form of etiquette or rules that one can follow which permits the free exchange of opinion while remaining unsullied in the process, I would appreciate knowing about it.

Until that day comes, I will try to follow two simple rules:

1. not to post any information that identifies anyone without first asking permission to do so, thereby respecting their right to privacy, and

2. I will use any information that I discover about fellow commentators in the most charitable manner possible.

The internet seems to be a muddy road to travel. It is difficult to journey without being sullied by the dirt thrown by others. I pray simply that I might be able to continue this virtual ministry I have undertaken in a manner that is right and proper as a representative of the Church, and of Jesus the eternal high priest.

Fr. Tim

8 comments:

  1. "The sourge of child sexual abuse demands that we do all that we can to fight it in every way possible."

    What are you doing, Fr. Tim?

    David Clohessy, National Director, SNAP-Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, 7234 Arsenal Street, St. Louis MO 63143 (314 566 9790), SNAPnetwork.org, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. David,

    I have brought every case of reported abuse to the police (3). I have reached out to and helped anyone who has come to me as a victim. I have called in these pages, within newspapers and in every forum available to me for the church to stop protecting and supporting offenders.

    What more do you believe that I should be doing? If you can legitimately guide me to do more, I will. Please understand that the OVERWHELMING majority of priests want to have these predators removed from our midst. I am no different.

    Thank you for visiting my blog.

    Fr. Tim

    ReplyDelete
  3. Fr. Tim.

    Based on the comment preceding mine, it looks like our friend has decided to go anonymous.

    The best lesson you need to know when it comes to the internet, is that once you post something online, it will live forever. Even if you delete the original posting, it will continue to remain available in a cache somewhere, or someone might have downloaded and kept a local copy.

    It is a good practice to Google the handle a commentator uses so that you can see what other posts he/she has made.

    Now although the O/C referenced in the 'questionable' sites might well be someone else, the obsession he displays with child abuse in the Church somehow seems to rule that out.

    Having said that, O/C seems to have dropped out of sight, both here and on the National Post web sites.

    Which only seems to reinforce my findings.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Sanwin, Thank you for the advice and information. I think that the NP staff might be responsible for O/C's vanishing from their website as they informed me that at least his recent posts were outside acceptable standards, filled as they were with curse words and slander.

    As I said, I have referred all this information that I have to the OPP task force and I trust that they will determine if something more needs to be done. I will grant O/C the benefit of the doubt until someone proves that I should not.

    Again, thanks for visiting the blog. Hope to hear from you again.

    Fr. Tim

    ReplyDelete
  5. That was a good respond to David(S.N.A.P.)I am happy to read that you Fr.Tim would go to the police and already did report some things that needed to be looked in to.
    Would you still go to the police tell them you had facts about a certain priest that was sexually abusing a young person, even if this priest told you face to face it was all true what he did but he said it to you face to face while under the seal of confession? In other words would you try to find ways(loopholes)to get this priest outed out somehow or try to get him sent to another place to keep him away from the victim you know of?

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  6. Lina: Are you asking me if I would breach the seal of confession? No. Under no circumstances would I act as you describe.

    But I am not obliged to offer absolution to any penitent who is unwilling to accept the consequences for their actions or take the appropriate step to report his actions to the appropriate authorities.

    I simply ask you to believe me on faith, that if such a priest were to come to me for confession, then the obligations for repairative action, and conditions for absolution would be VERY, VERY effective. This application of the instruction of St. Paul in his letter to the Corinthians, (where he instructs them on how to face a similar evil in their midst) will keep any priest from being silenced by another's confession.

    Watch the Hitchcock classic on the same theme. The obligations of the priest are clearly expressed there.

    Fr. Tim

    ReplyDelete
  7. Fr.Tim, I may not have explain myself clearly & I am sorry about that.
    I do understand about the seal of confession that has to be kept & I do realize you are not obliged to offer absolution for whatever the case may be. When one is in a confessional box Father Tim you do not know or see who is confessing to you. I was talking about a face to face confession. When you Father Tim see with your own eyes who it is. True, this person is confessing to God through you the same. Nevertheless, you are an ordinary man who happens to be a priest, a man of God but still you are a man. You answered me that would make no difference you would still keep the seal of confession as you been taught to believe. Then you did answered my question.
    It is people who do not believe or have doubts about the confessional for whatever reason(even numerous Catholics). You know the Wash,Rinse,Spin,Dry cycle do again concept of the confessional.
    It is the secrets & mysteries they have trouble with. The cover-ups of the abuse etc..It could be like my husband said to me. "Do you honestly believe a priest or other members of the clergy would even confess a sin of abuse to another priest when he thinks he has done nothing wrong?"
    Maybe after he is convicted and sentenced he will make that confession? One would hope he does.
    It is the clergy in position of different levels of authority that knew this priest has trouble with this issue or that priest has trouble with that issue. We better send him here or there like a place some call, 'Southdown' for help. I am talking about the evil criminal acts like people who are NOT part of the clergy and are jailed for similar crimes.
    It all boils down if one has respect or believes in the 'Sacrament of Reconciliation'. Do I believe in the Sacrament of Reconciliation? I have no problem with it Father. Why because God knows everything about me. As a matter of fact before I do go to confession, after my self examination of conscience, I believe I am already forgiven & still loved by God. When I am prepared to go to confession and there is no priest there available I still believe I am forgiven & still being loved by God.

    Blessings,
    Lina

    ReplyDelete
  8. Father Tim..you spoke about Hitchcock classic or movie?. Did you ever see the movie, "The Good Shepherd"? There are few movies with the same titled. I am talking about the one that the actor 'Christian Slater' plays in, he plays the role of 'Father Daniel Clemens' in this movie. The other actors are Stephen Rea, Molly Parker, Gordon Pinsent. There is a good part in there in the movie about a priest who refuses to reveal the seal of confession. It is a very good movie drama/mystery.
    This movie in my opinion should be viewed by priest & all Catholics. By the way, do not worry, Father Clemens does keep his vows. :)
    Blessings,
    Lina.

    ReplyDelete

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