Fr Ray Blake renames his blog...

Blogged by James Preece on 5th November 2010

From this week's The Tablet...

SOMETIMES outspoken and often boasting thousands of readers, priests have a significant presence in the Catholic blogosphere.

Now, one of the best-known priest bloggers, Fr Ray Blake, has been asked to change the name of his blog by his bishop, Kieran Conry, to make it clear that it does not officially speak for the parish. Previously, Fr Blake described his blog as the "online magazine" of the parish of St Mary Magdalene, Brighton; now it is simply "Fr Ray Blake's blog".

Bishop Conry told us that the blog reflected Fr Blake's personal opinions and not that of the parish. "I asked him to change the name and he obliged," said the bishop. He explained that some parishioners had complained, but also that the diocese is liable if an individual is defamed in a parish blog.

Fr Blake was recently threatened with legal action by Mgr Basil Loftus, a respected priest with a column in The Catholic Times, after readers' comments under a blog posting about the Catholic press had accused Mgr Loftus of heresy. Mgr Loftus also threatened legal action against Fr Michael Clifton -who blogged under the name "Fr Mildew" -who said that views expressed by Mgr Loftus on the Mass after the Second Vatican Council were "proximate to heresy".

Fr Clifton, a retired priest living in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, has since apologised and closed his blog.

The key line is this one "the diocese is liable if an individual is defamed in a parish blog". In other words: Priests who speak out are are their own.

Don't rock the boat!