I ran across an article and discussion thread a few years back devoted to the recent incident of Pope Francis criticizing some of the bad tendencies seen at EWTN (not trashing the entire network as the "work of the devil"): a topic that I addressed on my blog. It was sad that the aticle made the point that criticism of the pope should be made with the utmost charity. It was moderate and respectful (though I disagreed with its overall thrust). But the accompanying thread contained a host of comments made with a marked lack of charity. And this is precisely how papal bashing (not mere respectful criticism, which is fine, as I have always said) spreads and is a cancer in the Church at this time. We're currently observing another avalanche of it, after the well-deserved removal of the quasi-schismatic, Bp. Strickland.
This lack of charity in such threads is an abomination and a disgrace. And this is how papal-bashing proceeds and grows. All these comments are allowed and not censured, so folks in the thread think they are perfectly kosher and permissible in Catholic venues. The end result is a polluted, impious, insufficiently Catholic environment. Here are a "dirty dozen" examples from the thread (though minus names: and it was a public Facebook thread):
1) "Pope Francis has dug his own hole and when he broke his shovel he called in the bulldozer. He's his own worst enemy as well as the Church's."
2) "He often speaks obscurely!"
3) "I cannot understand a pope slandering an effective tool of Catholic apologetics and evangelization."
4) "He is being justifiably criticized by a genuinely Catholic channel for his own non-Catholic behavior."
5) "Next time he'll come right out and say he thinks it's a sin to question him. People no doubt will still defend him."
6) "Pay no attention to Red Francis. To be condemned by him is a great honor."
7) "Pope Francis: To criticize me is to criticize the Church. Fauci: To criticize me is to criticize science. Hmmmmmmm."
8 ) "Pope Francis is inexcusably rude."
9) "The sad part is this man is openly evil and constantly contradicts the teachings of the church…why does it matter what he says.. .he is not a true pope."
10) " “Frank” is his own worst enemy."
11) ". . . blatantly false accusations by Pope Francis."
12) "Pope Francis is liberal, and not acting in the best interest of the Church."
I had much more respect for popes as a Protestant than many Catholics today do. It's ludicrous and disgusting. I always give the example of when Pope St. John Paul II visited Detroit in 1987. Unfortunately, we didn't go see him (I hate big crowds), but we figured out when his plane was leaving and my wife and I stood there in awe, watching the jet overhead, saying, "The pope is in that plane!" That was as a Protestant, even one whose biggest issue was papal infallibility.
No papal critics can ever be criticized. Commentators on EWTN can rip the pope up and down on a daily basis and that's fine. People eat it up. But let the pope make the slightest, mild, vague reply and it's Chicken Little, as usual. It's the bully mentality. The bully can never handle a serious response to his antics; can never take his own medicine.
Why, then, is nothing done about such commentaries and discussion threads? No censure, no deletion (that we can see), no asking to tone it down or re-phrase, etc. This is the almost universal problem. Anything goes against the pope in these abominable discussions. It's a farce and makes the Church and Catholics a laughingstock.
If they are so bad, and this is obvious (as I would say is the case) then they ought to be deleted and if a person keeps committing the same offense, blocking is always an option, for the sake of good and edifying discussion for one and all.
St. Paul repeatedly warns against participating in useless, "stupid" controversies. Virtually no one online these days seems to be aware of that. And it's all the worse when gossip, slander, and calumny are directed to, or are about the pope. It's utterly contrary to what the Bible says about respect and deference towards leaders.
Almost no one moderates online discussion threads at all, and therein lies the problem. The result is mountains of trash, leading to scandal and outsiders laughing about all our idiotic infighting about the pope. I actually have a background as a paid moderator, with the Coming Home Network and their online forums, for three years. It was zero tolerance for nonsense, and consequently was a great place for discussion.
And that's the point. Moderation is for the benefit of all people sincerely interested in charitable, constructive discussion, just as we act when we have a rude, loud, insulting, vulgar person at a party in our home. He or she would be escorted out for the purpose of getting back to "normal" and everyone enjoying the fellowship.