Monday 26 April 2010

I Appear To Have Struck A Nerve...

Following my last post, Austen Ivereigh (of Catholic Voices) felt obliged to set the matter straight. He posted the following in the com-box.

"I'm astonished that you should publish private correspondence between myself and James Preece; and that you should do so partially and incompletely. The fact that his email ends up on your site is precisely why he wasn't invited.

Among your private vows, where there any that included respect, confidentiality, privacy or charity?"

You can check it out HERE if you want (underneath the actual post)... just in case I have published the comment partially and incompletely.

Now, let's examine Mr. Ivereigh's comment a little more closely.

Yes, the email was correspondence between Austen Ivereigh and James Preece. However, I had permission from James to publish it... and since it was evidence for my statement that James had been told he was not welcome at the training because the Archbishop was to be present, it seemed rather important to include it. Emails are not always as private as one might like to think... as the Foreign Office mandarins have discovered. I haven't heard Austen Ivereigh condemning the leak of that email.

That I should do so partially and incompletely... hmmm. Interesting. I didn't want to publish James' original request, simply because I had already recounted it, and was merely providing the reply... which, by the way, I considered to be extremely rude.

However, in the interests of fairness, I now provide a screenshot of the two emails together. Have a little look. The pink bits are where I have removed email addresses and a mobile phone number.

Have a very good look... The only parts of Austen Ivereigh's email which I didn't quote in the post were, I think you'll find, the sender, subject and recipient headers and the automatic signature (including the mobile number) at the end. Oh... and the "A" to sign off.

Saying that the email ending up on my site is the precise reason James wasn't invited is pretty much given the lie by examination of James' email. He was writing to confirm that he would be attending the training. And Austen writes back saying he doesn't think, after all, that James should come... giving the meeting with Archbishop Nichols as the only reason for this change of heart.

Mr. Ivereigh then tries to make a snide personal attack on me.

It's a shame that he didn't feel constrained by those same demands of charity and respect when he was telling James he was being given the brush off.

Given that he appears to have a rather selective memory (I'm being charitable) of what was in his email to James, and that, when he finds an opinion he doesn't like, he resorts to personal abuse, I have serious doubts as to his suitability for the role of co-ordinator for Catholic Voices...


Mrs McLean said...

What I find most disturbing is the nasty jibe about your vows.

Surely someone looking for Catholic Voices should be more respectful to laypeople whose Catholic Voices have been active in the service of the faith.

Meanwhile, snarking at holy vows is just dirty pool, to say nothing of irreverent.

vexilla regis said...

Mr.Ivereigh condemns himself out of his own mouth with his uncharitible and sarcastic reference to vows. And the ultra high-horse use of " astonished " is laughable. It seems a case of not wishing to be outshone before His Grace, or alternatively, and perhaps more likely,wanting to ensure that only "PLU" gain access.Well done Mac for shining the light. It seems the more Mr Ivereigh and his ilk are astonished the better! A pity His Grace doesn't invite James directly!

Michael Anthony said...

"The fact that his email ends up on your site is precisely why he wasn't invited."

So let me get this straight - Mr. Preece is no longer invited because he shares the contents of his own email with people of his choosing? In other words, "You can come, but don't you dare tell anyone anything about the event or what any of us say there!"

A shameless, base insult to you and every vowed person everywhere. We're behind you, Mac.

Adulio said...

Mr. Ivereigh is as contrary as they get. I would trust anyone who writes for the Bitter Pill or "The Guardian" newspaper as far as I could throw a grand-piano.

Society of St. Bede said...

So yet another person "believes" that it is uncharitable to correct error... If someone is taking a long walk off a short pier, it is real Charity that we do all we can to inform them of the error and prevent that person coming to harm.
In today's society we are lead to believe that we would be 'judgmental', that we would be unkind, or even nasty to try to correct that person.
Mr Ivereigh seems to have fallen for this silly sentimentality of our Age, forgetting what real Charity is.
Keep up the good work Mac.

Patricius said...

What is Austen Iveriegh (if that is not an impertinent question)?

Victoria said...

Oh dear, here we go again - orthodox Catholics fighting orthodox Catholics! Do we ever see non-orthodox 'Catholics' squabbling amongst themselves or do they present a united front and concentrate their time and energy to advancing their cause? We waste out time and dissipate our human resources in useless in-fighting when we are the ones who should be presenting a united front to defend the Faith.

This is not meant to be a criticism of Mac or Mr Preece but a comment on something I see happening over and over again.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I am shocked by this.
First of all that JP should be invited and then dropped, without (apparently) any explanation and then by AI's attack on you.

It shows a serious lack of respect for you both, if that is lacking in any Catholic institution or group, we must seriously ask what is built on: is it Christ or something else?

Amanda said...

I am a big fan of James & Ella's blog and share their views and outlook on The Faith, as will any Catholic who is faithful to the Magisterium. BUT James is too agressive and abraisive to be included in these circles of diplomacy! Last year there was a blog post full of venom directed at the Archbishop who was depicted in a clever animated picture repeatedly offering us Catholic parents the "V" sign with alternating arms.....James removed it after readers objected (and Ella spoke to him!).
Don't worry, we are in excellent hands with Jack Valero. I am confident his outlook is very similar to James' but he will speak with love, charity & diplomacy

Londiniensis said...

As far as I recall, vows of "respect, confidentiality and privacy" were expected of the deluded followers of the late Fr Marcial Maciel, but are not otherwise common.

For someone who appears to be leading the new "non-hierarchy" apologist contingent, perhaps Mr Ivereigh should brush up on a few basics.

His brusque response to Mr Preece suggests that he should also brush up on the basics of professional correspondence. I am, of course, too charitable to remark on what I perceive, no doubt mistakenly, to be a singular lack of charity in his response to you.

Anonymous said...

++Cormac will not be dead while his protege Austin I is around, so I am afraid the stench or smoke of Satan will continue to affect the Church, as Paul VI recognised.
Just don't inhale too much of what comes from the Bishops' Conference of England & Wales.

On the side of the angels said...

Do I think he's suitable?
Well the ridiculous situation with James hasn't helped has it ? The treatment of Mac was far from decorous or diplomatic - but who knows ? Maybe he's just having an off-day ?

I must express one deep concern - put it this way - would you employ a rabid population control advocate as a consultant to your Catholic media team? [even if she wrote for the Tablet?]
Austen chose Mary Colwell - and that's a gross error of judgment...

But he's supposed to be the expert so why not ask him what's going on rather than guessing the worst - instead of all this secrecy why not have the briefing notes etc pubished online so that every Catholic blogger or enthusaiastic Catholic is able to participate in the mission ?

- if he's fulfilling his role and there are proven fruits of their work so far ? who are we to complain - why don't they publish a little update to explain how things are going ?

I'm sure either Lord Brennan or Jamie Bogle from the Catholic Union - which holds the purse strings - would have stepped in by now if there was anything untoward or even questionable or counterproductive occurring...

Give it a little more time!
Then we can see whether its any good or not.

On the side of the angels said... to clarify one thing :
James Preece was never an official member of the Catholic Voices team.

This, admitedly, seems a ludicrous situation - a renowned, prominent Catholic blogger with a string of successful appearances in the media - surely he'd be top of the list of candidates?

I thought so - and recommended him twice to Jack Valero a long time before interviews [I never applied for an interview - I'd been invited] - the main response being 'I thought James lived a bit far away from London so it might be hard fo him to attend meetings'...

James nevertheless applied and was informed he was too late[??!!!]; he wouldn't even get the opportunity for an interview.
But afer some string-pulling and pleading James was allowed to undergo the media training; but not as a Catholic Voice. for the rest of this fiasco?

Well I have constantly campaigned for authentic orthodox Catholic voices in the media - and have prayed long and hard that something would be achieved through all this ; why else woud I have entered into correspondence with Rosie Dawson of the radio 4 religious dept, or started a facebook group calling for Catholic Voices in the media - I've had my reservations and have discussed them in private with those in charge.
There is still an opportunity for this to all come to a good end - yes we have to transcend the cults of personality and certain precepts which are far from conducive to the magisterium and more au fait with personalist ideology and an agenda which accentuates a very particular 'vision for Church'. But jumping on them from a great height merely because we expected this to be an unmitigated disaster from the start would be unfair and premature. Maybe it just requires a little tweaking or a few personnel changes or maybe an orthodox clerical steering committee or a couple fo clerical consultants to ensure it doesn't go too far off-message?

..but if this crowd don't get their act together sharply - there's going to be some vociferous opposition from across the blogosphere ; especially given that we were promised a group representative of 'Ordinary Catholics' - take a look for yourself at the team's composition - I make no attacks on the individuals themselves who probably very well deserve their place - but as a collective team ?
This cannot be considered as representative. We'll be excusing of this if they're any good - but nevertheless it wasn't cricket was it?

As for Austen ?
Maybe this is just a little wobble in nervous control-freakery at its early stages?
Maybe in time he will realise that he's supposed to be providing a service, not constructing a bunch of robots who have to sing from a songsheet which conforms to his way of seeing things? He doesn't need to hold the reins so tightly.

Kate said...

There's a whiff of the bully about Austen's unpleasantries to you, Mulier Fortis.
I wonder if the subtext of Austen's email to James Preece is that James is 'too Catholic' i.e. upholds the teaching of the Church and submits to the magisterium!
On the Fridays of May (or any Friday, come to that)it's not only errant priests who need our prayers and sacrifices but also bullying, bossy, lay Catholics who enjoy powerful positions or offices in the structure of the Church, and whose salaries we pay.

Mulier Fortis said...

OTSOTA - whether James was officially a Catholic Voice or not isn't the question. He had arranged to attend the meeting, and had rearranged quite a few things in order to do so.

Two days beforehand he was given the brush off in a very curt email, the only explanation being that the Archbishop was going to be there.

And it would appear that Austen Ivereigh didn't like that fact being made more widely known.

The Bones said...

I had a bit of email contact with Mr Valero.

I think he said something nice but never asked me to join the team, so I left it there.

No point crying over spilt milk. Boo hoo.

But James's situation is different. He was in and then dropped for no apparent reason.

I have a great deal of sympathy for James Preece, who I suspect is being sidelined because he's a totally sound (as in orthodox) Catholic voice. More orthodox than one or two Bishops we could mention.

It all sounds very 'Opus Dei' - A bit of a 'club', with its own rules, within the Church...Reminds me a bit of our Bishops.

Ttony said...

I would interpret this slightly differently. AI is technically in the right in that you (and James)have ignored the fact that the copyright in his message remains his by publishing his message without asking his permission to do so. This has given him the opportunity to have a hissy fit, or at least to offer a simulacrum of a queeny hissy fit, so that he can "prove" that he was right all along not to want to employ James.

He must read your blog to know that you're in vows: it might be surprising to the Catholic on the Victoria St omnibus to think that you were never approached to become a "Catholic Voice" - but I bet you weren't.

What they seem to be after is people below the retirement age who are prepared to speak up for the Suppository's line on the Church.

Cheap and grubby.

Austen Ivereigh said...

Having been rebuked -- rightly -- by Fr Ray Blake for being uncharitable, I'd like to apologise to Mulier Fortis for the unnecessary jibe about vows. I was furious at having been used in this way, and didn't check my anger. Sorry.

But I was right to object to a gross breach of trust-- and that, I assure you, was the only nerve that was struck.

As for the rest of the mob: pacem pro vobis.

Dominic Mary said...

Victoria said 'Oh dear, here we go again - orthodox Catholics fighting orthodox Catholics.'

Have I missed something ?

James and Mac are, of course, impeccably orthodox; but they weren't fighting each other.

To whom else was she referring ?

Amanda said...

It might be convenient to dismiss Catholic Voices as Tablet reading liberals but, from what I know of 2 or 3 of the members, nothing could be further from the truth. This is a truely good endeavour and it deserves our unified support.

I can only repeat that it is not James' views that are unpalatable but the way he sometimes expresses them; it makes him a loose cannon. This enterprise is too important for any surprises from within.

Well Mac, are you accepting Austin's appolpgy?

Simon Platt said...

"gross breach of trust"?

I think that's a bit strong.

pattif said...

I thought the whole point of Catholic Voices was to recruit a team of ordinary Catholics who would be trained to explain the teachings of the Holy Father in terms the MSM could understand. To be honest, I didn't quite understand why they had to be 'young', but I'm getting used to the middle aged being marginalised.

I can understand why James might be thought by some to be a bit over-enthusiastic, but I'd have expected that the purpose of the training would have been to harness the enthusiasm and teach people to put the message in the moderate, courteous tones the Holy Father himself uses.


Kate said...

"The mob" ?
Oh. Right. That would be those of us who commented in support of Mulier Fortis, would it?

pattif said...

Having re-read Mr. Ivereigh's apology, I'm still puzzled. Wherein lies the 'breach of trust', given that there is no indication in his email to James that it was confidential?

How is it that we end up with a situation that enthusiastic defenders of the teaching of the Holy Father are excluded from a project to promote enthusiastic defence of the teaching of the Holy Father?

Michelle Therese said...

What a mess.

Innocent Smith said...

I've said it on my own blog, but I hope Mac doesn't mind if I sum up here.

AI had a perfectly good reason not to invite JP who, in spite of his many qualities, has hounded "+Vincent" on his blog (and could thus hardly have realistically hoped to be accepted by the Catholic establishment as a 'Catholic Voice').

But that being so, JP should never have been accepted and then rejected by Catholic Voices. A simple visit to JP's blog would have revealed that this man is a prophet, not a spokesman. In any case, his treatment was just shabby, and Mac did right to expose it.

It was also right for AI to apologize for his rudeness to Mac, but as for calling the exposure, or the passing on of the email, a 'gross breach of trust', that's just guff. If public institutions behave badly in private, they can expect to get bitten. I rather think a spokesman for the Catholic Church should know that by now, AI!

On the side of the angels said...

too important for surprises from within....

Amanda : you've summed up absolutely everything that's wrong with your [and very probably their] notion of what Catholic Voices is supposed to be about....

You don't get it do you ?
And that's what's truly so sad....

epsilon said...

Austin's apology: "sorry... rest of the mob"

Are we ordinary catholics supposed to sit and listen to the likes of this when "Catholic Voices" will be pontificating on the Pope's visit?!

Give me JP's blogs any day for a bit of catholic honesty!

B flat said...

Cheap and grubby captured the whole situation well.

"Pacem pro vobis" is latin for what, exactly?

Perhaps not having the moral right on his side, Austin Ivereigh is trying intellectual elitism? Failed there too.

Try again. Third time lucky, perhaps?

Amanda said...

On the Side of the Angels....

Maybe not....I'd happily welcome your enlightenment!
(also on Austen's Latin if you can...)

But I DO get why they can't put James in the same room as the Archbishop!

Sadie Vacantist said...

I know one of the backers. 30 years ago he was part of a gang of Cambridge pretty boyz with similar pretensions. I recall one of them dissing a pro-lifer at a meeting and when I complained to a priest about this, I was told to 'sling my hook'. Shades of the paedophile scandals ...

60 years ago an Oxbridge graduate might have had something worth saying but now?

Anonymous said...

Hmm.....i'm very much getting the impression I haven't enough O Grades to have a Catholic voice.

I suppose folks like me could always do a mime. Or a collage.

Academic Means-testing as measure of understanding the faith and articulating it.

Outstanding work, folks.

Joe said...

Dominic-Mary, I think the 'orthodox Catholics fighting orthodox Catholics' is supposed to be the imagined 'James and Mac v Catholic Voices' situation.

Simon Platt said...

The day before yesterday I would have thought it a Good Thing that Oxford was so well represented among "Catholic Voices".

Today, I'm not so sure. Any of them from Balliol?

Matthaeus said...

'The Devil is alive and active' - so says the notice on the vandalised crucifix at Maiden Lane (which I am sure many readers of this blog will have seen)...

... and one of his favourite tricks is to sow seeds of division and hostility, and I cannot help feeling he is laughing out loud at this thread!

I don't know the events that led up to this, but what I can say is that everyone needs to calm down and get ahold of themselves and stop all this bickering and sniping.

The Church is suffering enough at the moment both from scandals within and from persecution without, and the last thing we want is for some of the best apologists for the Faith to start squabbling among themselves.

Let's not give the Devil his chance.

Regina pacis, ora pro nobis.

Sadie Vacantist said...


"best apologists for the Faith to start squabbling among themselves"

The issue is that JP has not been given the chance to "squabbble". He has already been silenced.

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