Attacks on .@TonySpence of .@CatholicNewsSvc by conservative bloggers "too much for .@USCCB " Spences asked to quit https://t.co/QTPcQZN7lS— Dennis Coday (@dcoday) April 14, 2016
Yesterday, Dennis Coday reported the following at National Catholic Reporter:
Tony Spence, director and editor-in-chief of Catholic News Service since 2004, unexpectedly resigned from that position Wednesday at the request of a U.S. bishops' conference official.
In recent days Spence had been attacked by conservative Catholic blogs for tweets he had posted about controversial religious freedom bills in North Carolina and Georgia. These sites accused Spence of "promoting the LGBT agenda."
"The far right blogsphere and their troops started coming after me again and it was too much for the USCCB," Spence told NCR in an interview Thursday.
Coday also reported that Spence feels "shattered" due to the abrupt firing. See Amy Sullivan's tweet below indicating that Spence was escorted from the building after being informed he was being fired, and not allowed to speak to his staff.
At America Magazine, Kevin Clarke reports,
The web-based publications, which in the past have frequently targeted Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, began a drumbeat for Spence’s removal after he posted a series of tweets commenting on impending laws related to bathroom access and other rights for lesbian, gay and transgender people. The Lepanto Institute accused Spence of issuing "public statements decrying proposed legislation in several states that would protect religious freedom and deny men pretending to be women the 'right' to enter women’s bathrooms."
Spence said that the web campaign provoked hate mail to his e-mail account, with messages urging his excommunication and calling him a traitor to the faith. Spence said he did not believe his Twitter comments would provoke such a backlash—“obviously”—but that he had been to his mind merely commenting on developing news on a subject frequently covered by CNS staff.
Here are some tweets commenting on Spence's firing and its significance for the U.S. Catholic church in this period of Franciscan "mercy":
This is important, and distressing, news about our church. It sounds like caving into the worst kind of bullying. https://t.co/mIF375j5bM— James Martin, SJ (@JamesMartinSJ) April 14, 2016
This shows 2 things: USCCB want CNS to be its propaganda wing & USCCB caves to nasty conservative bloggers. https://t.co/25RwZTLKDR— Robert Mickens (@robinrome) April 15, 2016
Escorted from the bldg & not allowed to address his staff?? Shameful. Conservative Catholics claim a scalp. https://t.co/Yb1NChqajc— Amy Sullivan (@sullivanamy) April 15, 2016
Big loss for the church and @CatholicNewsSvc as @TonySpence gets sacked. We need more like him, not fewer.https://t.co/HfUOLEvpri— Kevin Eckstrom (@KevinEckstrom) April 14, 2016
Shocked by resignation of Tony Spence? Same group caused @CRSnews executive to resign last year: https://t.co/zbWNNGJvHv— New Ways Ministry (@NewWaysMinistry) April 15, 2016
The USCCB celebrates the Year of Mercy by firing its independent news editor Tony Spence because of pressure from anti-Catholic groups.— Christopher J. Hale (@chrisjollyhale) April 14, 2016
I share your sadness. @TonySpence is a great leader in challenging times. NOT @Pontifex approach for dialogue. https://t.co/ATQT9Dzc72— Sr. Simone Campbell (@sr_simone) April 14, 2016
When I worked at US bishops' conference Tony Spence stood out for his integrity and journalistic chops. His abrupt firing is a travesty.— John Gehring (@gehringdc) April 14, 2016
I'm so angry about this and you best believe I'm going to write about it.😡 https://t.co/fjFo27XO1i— ProfB (@AntheaButler) April 15, 2016
What Andrea Contini said. Because this story is all about the U.S. bishops and the bitterly hateful and bitterly anti-LGBTQ Catholic right in the U.S. asserting yet again their prerogative to beat up on LGBTQ human beings in the name of Christ. Lest you had any doubt at all about who owns the U.S. Catholic church prior to this story, you may now lay that doubt to rest.
Pope Francis can talk until he's blue in the face about "mercy," and, when it comes to interacting with LGBTQ human beings, we'll see absolutely zero shift in how the owners of the U.S. Catholic church (the USCCB and the hard Catholic right, with the backing of wealthy conservative donors) choose to do business with this portion of the human community. It is supremely important to these folks to demonstrate contempt and loathing — not welcome and mercy — to members of the queer community.
And nothing Pope Francis says in Amoris Laetitia will check this tendency. To the contrary . . . .