Monday, February 23, 2009

Pray for the Holy Father

"Pray for me, that I may not flee for fear of the wolves." (Pope Benedict XVI, 25 April 2005).

Our prayers are with you, Holy Father. Stand firm.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Beware the Google scholar!

[Note: Please see the comments below. This posting will be removed when the St. Benedict Center actually apologizes to the Holy Father and their readers for this incident.]

The St. Benedict Center, a religious order dedicated to promoting the teachings of the late Fr. Leonard Feeney, posted a blurb on their Web site last week proclaiming:

This Just in: Pope Says ‘Feeneyites’ OK

Wow, that's pretty big news for such a group. The "citation" given runs as follows:

With regards to those who hold strictly the absolute necessity of water baptism, it would be quite wrong to charge them with heretical constructs. As they merely assert that which was the near-universal consensus of the Patristic era, such a charge would be proximate to condemning all but a few of the Fathers as heterodox. (Der Glaube das Pimmelkopfgelauben, Communio April 1997 p 13. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.)

The quote has made its rounds. It appears at Fish Eaters, A Fearful Master, and miscellaneous other venues. That's how things make the rounds in the Internet. The quote was also picked up in a discussion thread over on the Catholic Answers Forum, where at least one individual who is well acquainted with the Holy Father's writings in Communio seemed to establish pretty conclusively that it never appeared in that journal. In addition, another poster on Catholic Answers had a German friend translate the "article" title; it turns out to be a rather crude swipe at the Cardinal.

So I did a little Google searching myself and found out—wow, what a surprise!—that this "article" is a hoax. A certain "Deacon Augustine" posting at the Angel Queen forum admitted that he had made it all up (and should indeed be well and truly ashamed of himself not only for the hoax but for his gross disrespect):

Johannus, pascendi and everyone else, I really must apologise to you all for the above "quote" I cited - please do not rely on it or cite it elsewhere.

It is entirely a spoof and my own invention, and was meant to be a satirical comment on what he might have said based on the "Razing the Bastions" type theology.

I was hoping the spoof source would have given it away, but I guess it looked too realistic and I should have put something like: (sarcasm).

Once again, my sincere apologies to anybody who took this seriously.
But notice: the lid on this hoax was lifted back in 2006. The St. Benedict Center is crowing about it in early 2009. Obviously, the writer there did not bother to try and validate the quote, since the same five minutes of effort on his part would have netted him the same information I found. Indeed, even worse, I alerted them to this hoax last week and, as of today, it's still up on their site. Pitiful.

And such are the dangers of the Google scholar. Lesson: always, always, always check your sources for accuracy, but especially if you got the information from the Internet.