James Preece has blogged on Austen Ivereigh's interview with John Allen about Catholic Voices. In it Ivereigh has these extraordinary words to say:
We didn’t get an application from a Lefebvrite. We did get a few from what you would call the “Taliban Catholics,” who of course have become very vociferous on the blogosphere in the last few years. They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it.
Preece has quite rightly mocked this cap by wearing it. [The following is a correction] He, after all, was allowed to, and then blocked from, attending Catholic Voices media training before anyone realised what was happening.
But I find Ivereigh's words signficant for another reason. They are all too redolent of the methodology which is used to bring down Catholic positions in the public square.
'Taliban Catholic' is an example of what John Humphreys calls a 'boo word'. You know exactly what this means as soon as it is said: if you wish instantly to condemn your interlocutor or a third party, you associate them with a handy 'boo word' - bigot, Nazi, fascist, Taliban - and PUFF! in the 24/7 wall-to-wall disinformational age in which we live, you have marked out your territory as surely as any mongrel with a cocked leg.
Better still, you have thrown out a kind of electric fence line which buzzes instantly when pressed against by those you want to herd. What else can Ivereigh's words mean? No blog I know of promotes Taliban values, but what better way to try to maginalise your adversary than by associating them with an enemy who is beyond the pale?
For what defines a 'Taliban Catholic' according to Ivereigh?
They’re very critical of the bishops for compromising too much with modernity and not promoting Catholic truth as they see it.
Ah, so that's what it is? I like the expression 'as they see it', for it is surely a misrepresentation, at least in many instances. It nicely covers over the fact that the CES's collaboration with the last government was a sell out on the rights of Catholic parents and on explicit guidance from Rome about the teaching of sexuality to children. 'As they see it' sets aside criticism of Bishop Kieran Conry who, when Professor Tina Beattie, [redacted] said that the Anglican ordination of women was prophetic, told Radio 4 he 'couldn't comment' on the possible future abandonment of the definitive Catholic teaching on the exclusively male priesthood. He couldn't comment? A man with an apostolic mission to pass on the faith and an oath sworn to adhere to it?
But I'm even more irritated here by the idea that the best way to characterise critics of compromise with modernity is to call them 'Taliban'. There are in fact a huge number of things associated with modernity that the Church will never compromise on. Is the Church, thereby, Taliban?
Actually, yes! This is the kind of language which I know adversaries of Catholicism are now using against simple, orthodox Catholics, not only against those with an axe to grind about bishops and their conferences.
Yes, one man's Catholic is another man's Taliban. That's something Ivereigh might like to think about when he is hung out to dry, like Edmund Adamus, for saying what none of the English bishops appear to have the nerve or the will to say.