Tasmania’s blogging bishop seeks to be a clear Catholic voice

By Catherine Sheehan

It has been exactly one year since Archbishop of Hobart, Julian Porteous, launched out into the deep and uncertain waters of the online world by starting his own blog.

To date, he has published over 20 articles on his ‘Grace & Truth’ blog site, named after his episcopal motto, ‘Gratia et Veritas’.

“I really want to communicate,” Archbishop Porteous said. “I want to be a Catholic voice on matters of significance in the Church or in society at the present moment. I think that’s mainly what I’m trying to do.

“It really is an extension, if you like, of my role as a teacher of the faith, as a bishop.”

Having been Archbishop of Hobart for ten years, and a priest for fifty, Archbishop Porteous said he considers blogging and social media as a way of reaching more Catholics, beyond his usual reach through homilies, speeches and pastoral letters. It is also a way of reaching the broader audience of those outside the Church.

“I’m aware that when I blog I am principally writing for a Catholic audience, but I’m also aware of the fact there’ll be people who are not Catholic who may also read what I have to say,” he said.

Each of the Archbishop’s blog posts is disseminated via his Facebook page (@Archbishop Julian Porteous), and readers can also subscribe to the Grace & Truth newsletter and receive each new post delivered directly to their email inbox.

Unafraid to tackle the hot button issues affecting Catholics, Archbishop Porteous has written on a myriad of topics including religious freedom, gender ideology and ‘conversion therapy’, The Voice referendum, intercommunion, the liturgy, and blessings.

Having been Archbishop of Hobart for ten years, and a priest for fifty, Archbishop Porteous said he considers blogging and social media as a way of reaching more Catholics. Photo: Josh Low

One of his most popular posts was on ‘Dark Mofo’, the annual winter festival held in Hobart, where all things dark are celebrated and icons of Christianity mocked.

“A decade on and, once again, it seeks to attack and ridicule sacred images and truths of Christianity,” Archbishop Porteous wrote on his blog in June last year.

“Dark Mofo offers a counterfeit spirit which, sadly, so many uncritically accept and celebrate because it is viewed as ‘cutting edge’ or ‘avant garde’,” he added.

The Archbishop also called for Catholics to make reparation for the blasphemies committed against God during the popular festival.

“Public blasphemy, promoted widely in the community, is an even more serious matter as it impacts the culture,” he wrote.

Readers on his Facebook page expressed appreciation for his stance against the event, with one commenting, “Thank you Your Grace for continuing to speak out.”

Another commented on his blog site: “I am very glad to have leadership and direction on how to do something to help repair the damage done when our culture has lost its way and promotes a spirituality of darkness.”

Comments from readers so far tend to indicate that Grace & Truth is providing a clear Catholic voice during confusing times in both the Church and in society.

“I tend to write on matters that I think are important,” Archbishop Porteous said.

“But I have to leave it to the audience to decide what they see as valuable or interesting and what’s not.”

“I certainly think there are a lot of issues where Catholic people do look to get some guidance, to see what the Church may officially present, or what would be the response of a bishop, to a particular matter.”

Archbishop Porteous said it was important that the Church was present in the online world, particularly in order to reach the young.

“It’s very clear that we’ve gone through an information revolution. We’ve gone through exponential growth in forms of communication. I think it’s vital for the Church to be engaged in the new forms of communication that have emerged.

“A lot of young people these days tend to go to social media and digital media as a means of receiving information on issues. I think it’s important that we’re in that place.”

Archbishop Porteous’ blog can be found at graceandtruth.com.au

Tags: Archdiocese, Evangelisation and Catechesis, News, Northern Deanery, Southern Deanery