Today’s Ukrainian announcement not a big deal

Today’s Ukrainian announcement not a big deal

Contrary to what one hyper-ventilating self-proclaimed successor to the dean of the American Vaticanisti claims today, the announcement of a new head of the archepiscopal see of Lviv for the Ukrainian Catholic Church is not a big deal. Rorate caeli explains that the supposedly revolutionary language is fairly common and in conformity with the Code of Canon Law for the Eastern Churches.

This is one reason why I think people should be careful in giving this kid too much credence. He doesn’t know as much as he tells you he does.

Oh and if he’s receiving “death threats” and “conservative fatwas” then I hope he’s reporting it to the police.

Update: RC at Catholic Light notices the same gaffe and expands on the explanation of how the “sniffish” and “fey” blogger—who apparently throws a tantrum when you don’t mention him by name and thus provide a stroke for his ego—made not one, but two errors in this Ukrainian matter. Re-printing on your blog rumors thrown at you by mid-level functionaries doesn’t make you a journalist and this is a prime illustration. Humility and experience would go a long way.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Hey, Don, come on.  No fair and not the Yuletide spirit!

    I am often disagree vehemently with Rocco and he, like all of us, occasionally slips up.  This is not nearly as uncommon as some people might think, even among experts on their own turf.

    But Rocco does know a lot of stuff and obviously has his ear to fertile ground.  And he writes VERY well indeed.  No, of course, one shouldn’t take what he says uncritically.  But he’s somebody who should be read. 

    Lots of “conservatives” (I am one by the way) were just sure that when Ratzinger became Pope, he would be scheming for this and that and advancing the agenda that we all think needs advancing.  Rocco was savvy enough to predict that Levada was not a one shot deal and that this Pope would not have the agenda-driven Pontificate that some had hoped for.  I thought he was right from the day of the election.  And some of the latest episcopal appointments bear this out.  Ratzinger will be of the John Paul Two stamp—embrace as many as possible, think well of people, and persuade, persuade, persuade.  But no big sticks, no attacks, and a variety of appointments, many of which will unsettle us.

    We Conservatives will need to read Rocco to help keep us honest and prevent us from engaging in wishful thinking.

  • Dom, you’re givin’ spoilers!  grin

    I pretty much agree with Jeff; the kid has something to offer when he’s writing about matters of substance, and not shooting from the hip.  The site’s still worth checking out once a week or so.

  • Take a look at the lovely—and uncontroversial—post on the Catholic Church in America today.  Rocco is a multifaceted and very knowledgeable guy.  And a real talent.

  • There is nothing more I can add that hasn’t been said by Jeff, RC, and you.  He still has raw talent; but, as I said to him in a private e-mail, his writing has improved (IMVHO).  Yes, there are times what he says rubs me the wrong way (I also have a conservative mindset) and posts that show some flashes of brilliance.  As much as I want to give him a chance, it is his ego-driven tirades that keep him off my ‘blog roll for now.

    Dom, you understand how hard this niche of journalism (reporting with a Catholic POV) is, being in the business.  You have earned my respect because of your quality work.  I think he will learn and mature; and when his talent matches his ambition, he will truly have taken his place.

  • Don’t let his self-promotion fool you. He hasn’t been nearly as accurate as he claims. A few times he said what everyone else knew at about the same time everyone else knew it and claimed it as a scoop. He also conveniently forgets to list all the failed predictions when he’s crowing about how accurate he is.

    About the only thing his site is good for is seeing how a particular chancery mindset works in the gossip factory.

    He is a conduit for midlevel bureaucrats in Philadelphia, but when it comes to analysis he is sadly lacking.

    His bitchy attitude toward conservatives—claiming that he’s been the object of death threats and saying that all conservatives love Pinochet—and his juvenile analysis make his work suspect to rely on.

  • Come on, that just isn’t fair.  I’ve seen him say that he missed on this or that.  But in any case, people trying for a career don’t make a huge point of playing up all their faults along with their successes.  Room can be made for the fact that he’s (quite legitimately) engaging in promotion on his blog.  He ISN’T making up the fact that he’s got a lot of people paying attention to him and that’s for a good reason.  He irritates conservatives, often enough legitimately.  I’ve been very angry at him at time.  But we still read him.

    Of course—despite what you say—one can be tendentious and vindictive sometimes and STILL have fascinating stuff to impart and worthwile observations to make.  You’re taking one side of Rocco and blowing it out of proportion—not responsible and not the best way to celebrate the Christmas season. 

    I always defend you and CWN and CWR whether it’s from Rocco attacks or accusations that “Diogenes” is the Devil Incarnate or whatever.  But in this matter you have grossly overstated your case and ended up being uncharitable and unjust.  Maybe you were just being a bit cranky; it happens to everybody.  But if so, why not just take one of those anti-blogger-pride pills and fess up?

  • Give me a break, Jeff. Now who’s overstating the case? You’re making more out of my comments than is warranted. Since when does being the Christmas season mean that you don’t point out when someone makes a major error of analysis on an important and volatile part of the Church? If he’s such an expert and a journalist then he can deal with it.

    This isn’t about my pride. I don’t reply when he attacks me or my friends. I find him tendentious and over the top in his campiness, but I don’t point out every error he makes. I pointed out this one because it is indicative of a growing tendency.

    I find his claims that conservatives are making death threats against him, his bitchy comments about conservative prelates, and his lumping together of all conservatives as Pinochet lovers, among others, to be lacking in Christian and plain truth.

    I’m not telling you not to read his blog. Read it if you want. I don’t care.

    My blog is about things I feel like writing about and I felt like pointing out how others saw an error in a blog post.

  • I will add that the Ukrainian situation is very delicate and complex. What someone writes on a blog is one thing, but if Rocco gives one of his vaunted media interviews, such a poor analysis could cause the wrong impression to be received by one of the parties in the dispute.

    We saw how a mistranslation by Catholic World News, a small, Internet news service, about Israel’s response to the tsunami last year caused a diplomatic row. If Rocco’s going to be a journalist then he has to be willing to accept criticism and correction. He also has to be willing to act like a journalist and not like a gossip columnist. That’s the difference between a professional journalist and a blogger.

  • Dom, I don’t fault you for pointing out the error (and I incline to think it WAS one.)  But suppose it had been made by someone you like?  Would you have called them “kid” and a “hyper-ventilating self-proclaimed successor”, etc.?

    It wasn’t the substantive point that galls.  It’s the snarky tone and broadly dismissive appraisal that sticks in the craw.  “Uh-oh, Rocco, you goofed!” perhaps even in a private email would have done the trick.  And it might have accomplished a lot more.  Instead it’s just become one of those needless blogger quarrels. 

    I’ve seen him respond to criticism with fair-mindedness.  Just look at the post he put up which features an email critical of Cardinal Hume, whom he had just praised fulsomely.

    And on the Ukrainian issue, even if the particular info is off a bit, the basic thrust is right.  Cardinal Hussar (who had publicly claimed that the Immaculate Conception and Purgatory are mere theological opinions) looks to be trying to create a Ukrainian Church free from Roman control and theology which is a sort of “in between” Church for Catholics and Orthodox.  And it’s difficult for Rome to do anything about it; the Ukrainian Church has been captured by American Exiles who tend to be dissenters on many issues and Orthodoxizers and the brave home-grown Resistance that kept things going during the Soviet years is marginalized.

  • I agree with all that Mr. Bettinelli has said.

    I would also add that, though Mr. Palmo has certainly some potential, his credibility is seriously hurt by the conservatism-hatred of many of his posts.

    One may say that John Allen, for instance, is a liberal (since he writes for a very “progressive” paper), but it is almost impossible to know that from what he writes.

    The same may be said of the greatest living Italian Vaticanists. It is easy to discern their general orientation, but they do not present any radicalism.

    Now, what I really wonder is why it is such a great deal to point a failure of a blogger, but not to say that “the Ukrainian Church has been captured by American Exiles who tend to be dissenters on many issues and Orthodoxizers ”

  • New Catholic:

    I agree that John Allen is a magnificent journalist, despite his apparent heterodoxy.  He is a noble soul indeed and a reliable and reliably neutral journalist.

    I never said that Rocco Palmo was above criticism.  I myself have criticized him vociferously, in public and in private.  But I do maintain that one can be enthusiastically heterodox (Rocco seems rather to be TRYING in some mixed-up way to find a “neutral ground” between heterodoxy and orthodoxy and to be reacting against a certain haughty and narrow-minded atmosphere that CAN indeed be found all too often among faithful Catholics) and still tell the truth about facts.  You can also make worthwhile observations (such as his understanding of the likely trajectory of Ratzinger’s papal career).  The fact that—unlike Allen—he is not a “pure” journalist on his blog, doesn’t mean that his factual observations are any more unreliable than the wishful thinking of the orthodox can be.

    Will your opinions sometimes shade your understanding?  Sure.  So what?  That’s true of everyone.  We strive against it, at our best; we rationalize our opinions and defend ourselves, at our worst.

    Rocco is certainly not beyond criticism.  He’s sometimes offensive and sometimes silly.  But he’s a fabulous read and a great source of information.  His predictions are usually called predictions; his certainties, like his coup with Levada, are usually labelled as such.  And he’s as reliable as most people on these issues.  Good grief, in my experience, most “experts” are far worse than Rocco and wrong at least as often.  “Caveat lector”, of course, with Rocco, with Bettinelli, with Your Humble Servant, with the New Catholic (Fabulous Blog, by the Way!  I’ve bookmarked it and will return often.)

    I didn’t understand your last comment on the Ukrainian Church.  Do you disagree?  Or does it just rub you the wrong way?

  • There is no “neutral ground between heterodoxy and orthodoxy.”  If there were such a place it would be heterodoxy, by definition, since there is such a thing as objective truth.  You, as a Catholic, doubt that?

    I have also stopped visiting that blog because I don’t like the tone, and am not sure he has ever said anything I didn’t find out somewhere else, without the crap.  Just sayin.

  • Look, Courage Man, OF COURSE Rocco is maddeningly wrong about homosexuality.  And it does strike me as naive.  But people can have huge streaks of maddening wrongness and still be very valuable. 


    No, you don’t get me.  I’m not DEFENDING it, just describing it.  Yes, it’s a huge MISTAKE.  But it’s not the same thing as just loving heresy for its own sake.  I don’t know when exactly you stopped visiting, but it wasn’t VERY long before he cut out the comments, where you left some good stuff.  Just sayin.

    All I’m SAYING, see, is:  Rocco is more than the caricature you’re making of him.  And he’s not an incompetent, though he does make mistakes.  That’s worth sayin, I think, though it may be misconstrued to mean a wholesale defense of everything, which it certainly is not.  I sigh and roll my eyes as much as any of you guys, I bet. I’ll bet I’d be sore, too, if he attacked me like he attacks Dom’s outfits.  But I won’t pretend he’s not good.

  • I’ve read the blogger in question four or five times.  I’m not impressed—b****y and predictably progressive.  The waspish spin he puts on almost every single thing he posts poisons the lot.

    “Overrated” says it all.

  • Whatever you have to say about Rocco (and is any of us beyond critique?) you have to give him credit for posts like the two on Churchman of the Year and Historical Notes.  He may be young, but he has depth and he has a grasp of church life and polity which many other bloggers don’t come close to.

  • “Ted” is a great baker—he instinctively understands the baking craft, has contacts with the great masters of Europe, and has insights many other bakers do not.

    But five out of every six cakes he makes is leavened with a quarter cup of fresh dog crap.

    Makes it difficult for me to appreciate “Ted’s” craft, much less patronize his establishment on a regular basis.

    Someone call me when “Ted” starts to grow up, and I’ll take him seriously.

  • Well, unfortunately, even the estimable and wholly orthodox Bettinelli (the latter is more than I can say for Rocco!) has an occasional mess of dog crap incorporated into his “cakes.”  The childish unwillingness to admit to an excess of rhetoric and a lack of charity in this post is one excellent example. 

    Most foods in the United States are inspected and allowed to have a certain percentage of rat feces and urine in them.  Guess why?  You can’t keep it out.  Can’t take rat feces and urine?  Then you starve to death…

  • Jeff:

    It’s not simply that Rocco is wrong about homosexuality. It’s the snide, gossippy, “dishy” tone of the post I linked to—like bad Maureen Dowd. Even when he’s right, his persona is so off-putting, you have to dislike him.

    And it’s also his willingness to state as facts,** in the case of this priest whom I know personally and this Church apostolate about whom I have specific knowledge, things that are unwarranted, baseless, utterly groundless and only printable on the basis of partisan free association worthy of a stand-up comedian on Air America.

    ** For example, “reflecting Daddy’s views” and “like their gays as straight as possible.”

  • CourageMan:

    Yes, you have a point.  But it’s just a POINT.

    OF COURSE, there are serious problems with Rocco’s outlook.  And he does make nasty comments and immature evaluations of people sometimes.  I was INFURIATED when I read the Fr. Scalia post (I’m a fellow Arlingtonian); I remembered it VERY well, even without your reminder.  I was livid.  It STANK.  He had no business to say it and he deserved and deserves still to be read the Riot Act for it.

    But then I read a post in which he goes out of his way to be generous to Cardinal Arinze (whom he doesn’t much esteem) or I read one in which he handsomely posts an email critical of Cardinal Hume after he’s just posted fulsome praise of him.  Or I read his sweet and wise post about American Catholic history.  Or I see him nail a smart call about Church politics that most of the others have missed.

    And then I have to admit that Rocco is DEEPLY FLAWED and has serious faith problems, but he’s very GOOD at what he does.  Though not above serious criticism.  And while sometimes I can’t help but feel fury at him or disgust, at other times I like him quite a lot.

    It’s about just estimation, that’s all.  Rocco’s not a fake fool who has no idea what he’s doing.  He gets proud, he gets silly, he makes mistakes.  And he gets nasty and snarky sometimes.  You don’t have to like him (though *I* do.)  And he certainly deserves a good kick in the pants now and then.  But he’s GOOD at what he does, nevertheless.

    Tis the season to be generous but—failing that—at least just.  What if Dom tried emailing or phoning Rocco and making friends?  I see another famous blogger just did that with one of his online “enemies.”  And guess what?  Pax and all sorts of good stuff.  That’s the way to influence people.  Love them, talk to them, overlook their pettinesses and encourage them when they are large-hearted.  Invite them to dinner and say and “Ave” with them in return for their nastiness, as the Holy Father did with Hans Kung.

  • Well, anyway….

    Happy New Year and Merry Christmas.  And if anybody wants to celebrate Epiphany on the Twelfth Day, come to Old St. Mary’s in Washington on Friday—we’re doing our indult Mass according to the CALENDAR, by God!

  • Jeff:

    Your defense of the blogger is charitable and well-argued, and he will be in my prayers.  I agree—he does have real talent.


    The problem is he quite effectively obscures that talent with a repellent persona.  For my part, I simply will not allocate my reading time to the blogging equivalent of an “abusive husband” relationship, all the while hoping he will change. 

    I wish you all the best in your interactions with him, and sincerely hope they will bear fruit.

  • How about the fact that Mr. Palmo writes just like a character right out of “La Cage Aux Folles”, snowflake?

  • My hat’s off to Jeff who, although he has serious disagreements with Rocco Palmo, has been able to maintain a Christian and civil level of response in this thread.

    I haven’t read a Catholic blog yet where the blogger and/or respondents haven’t stooped to some pretty nasty ad hominem stuff.  My own rule in this sphere is to try not to write anything I wouldn’t say face to face in conversation with my neighbor.  I’m not claiming a perfect record on this score, but the effort generally keeps me in bounds.

  • Give me a break, Father. I would say anything in this thread to Rocco’s face did I deem it necessary to do so.

    And everything I have said has been far from the bitchy, gossipy, and mean spirited bile he spews at others.

  • Please notice that I wrote “where the blogger AND/OR respondents…”

    It was not my intention to point a finger at you, Domenico. There are bloggers who stoop to nastiness and respondents who do the same.  Like yourself, I read a number of Catholic blogs on a regular basis.  Some are downright nasty.  You and I might disagree on which are the nasty(or nastiest) ones, but we both know that they are out there.

    I don’t see that much is gained (and if fact, much is lost) in slinging mud at each other in the blogosphere – and it was not my intention to sling any at you.

    I happen to admire the way in which Jeff voices his disagreement but doesn’t get into name calling and I find no need to apologize for supporting his approach.

  • Then why didn’t you say that in your initial comment? By stating it the way you did, you left the impression of laying blame on those who posted here while leaving you with the out you took.

    Sometimes I’d rather hqave the straight approach of someone who attacks me outright, those “nasty” bloggers and/or commenters you mention, rather than the backhanded approach of those who criticize on the sly.

  • Dom, I do think there’s a lot of mud slinging on this blog (just read this thread) but it was not my intention to attribute that to you.  I don’t choose to attack anyone here even if that is your preference.  What I see as a civil and constructive approach to discussion seems backhanded and sly to you.  There we have a difference of opinion. 

    I don’t want to engage in a shouting match with commenters who keep upping the ante in name calling.  I tried to suggest a way by which I try to keep my comments on a particular level.
    If that seems like I’m taking a sneaky way out, I think you misunderstand me.  If my approach to joining the discussion here is out of order, so be it.