I’ve determined the identity of the priest who posts at the New Theological Movement blog under the pseudonym of Fr. Reginaldus.
update: I’ve now disclosed his identity in a new post here along with a photo of him and some background on him.
Here is his article In Defense of Pseudonymous Blogging. He begins by establishing that writing under a pseudonym is not immoral and is not lying. I agree. He explains his primary reason for writing under a pseudonym as follows: “the primary reason we have adopted pseudonymity is that the arguments and the theology should be taken on their own merit and not on the merit of the author.” But the same can be said of theological arguments published under one’s real name; they should stand or fall on their own merits. This reason for using anonymity is not compelling.
At its best, any Catholic blog is a means of preaching the Gospel. But why should the Gospel be preached under cover of anonymity? There are advantages and disadvantages to this approach. The advantages are that persecution of the preacher is avoided. This reason would be particularly compelling if the individual were in a nation that persecutes Christians. Another advantage is that the preacher, if a lay person, is protected from discrimination at work or school (or other secular environs). I know of one poster at a discussion group who was denied a job because he posted under his real name at a Catholic discussion group. However, these reasons carry much less weight when applied to a Catholic priest, one who lives in a nation that does not persecute Christians. I see no substantial reason why such a priest would need to remain anonymous while teaching theology to the faithful online.
The disadvantages when a priest posts anonymously, especially while also asserting that he is a Catholic priest, are substantial. A priest might post doctrinal error, and the faithful might be led astray partly by the knowledge that he is a priest (which gives his words additional weight in their minds). A priest might tend to be less responsible in his theological assertions, since he knows that his words are not attached to his reputation as a priest. A priest might tend to behave in a manner unfitting to a priest, treating other persons unfairly, making false accusations or speaking arrogantly, for much the same reason.
Another problem when priests use the internet to teach theology or preach the Gospel anonymously is that the priest cannot be corrected. He can delete or refuse to post comments that disagree with his position, or that argue for a contrary position. If the faithful do not know his identity, then they cannot write to his Bishop with a legitimate complaint about his teaching or behavior. And he can always move on to another blog or another discussion group, posting under a new pseudonym. So correction of any errors is much more difficult. This situation is not unheard of in the history of the Church. Although the internet is a new phenomenon, in past centuries some priests became itinerant preachers, traveling from diocese to diocese, without supervision from Bishops, preaching in effect under anonymity or pseudonymity, since their listeners would know little or nothing about them, and they would soon be traveling on to other places.
Moving on to a discussion of anonymity in Catholic discussion groups, over at Catholic Answers many Catholics post anonymously. I used to post at Catholic Answers, under my real name, but not any more. Catholic Answers has many posters who promote doctrinal error, who present their own misunderstandings of doctrine as if it were the teaching of the Church, who claim that various grave sins are moral and approved by the Church, who teach as if with great authority, while remaining anonymous, and who succeed in convincing various poor lost souls to adopt their same errors. If anyone makes a sound theological argument in contradiction to their mostly-baseless claims about what we are to believe, he is subject to vicious personal attacks under cover of anonymity. If the moderators ban such a poster, he or she merely rejoins under a different pseudonym. You would think that a person who goes to Catholic Answers discussion group to obtain the answer to a sincere question on a matter of faith or morals might be cautioned by the fact that most persons responding to his question are anonymous. But such is not the case. Many times I’ve read posts there by new members asking legitimate questions on what the Church teaches. And many times I’ve read numerous responses, teaching that person doctrinal error and encouraging him or her to commit grave sins, on the basis of the claim that these errors are not errors but are the teaching of the Church, and on the basis of the claim that these objective mortal sins are not sins at all, but good acts.
Now back to the original subject of this post. Should I reveal Fr. Reginaldus’ real identity? I’m leaning in favor of ‘Yes’, but I will consider input from reader comments.