The editor of the National Catholic Reporter responded to Bishop Robert Finn's warning that the publication undermines the faith by saying that paper confidently describes itself as Catholic.
“NCR is proud to call itself a Catholic publication. We report and
comment on church matters, including official teachings,” Thomas Fox
wrote Jan. 27 on the paper's website.
“We also report and comment on those who call into question some of these official teachings,” he said.
In a Jan. 25 column for his diocesan paper, “The Catholic Key,” Bishop
Finn wrote that “in light of the number of recent expressions of
concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the
Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears
the name 'Catholic.'”
The National Catholic Reporter is based in Bishop Finn's Diocese of
Kansas City-Saint Joseph. As the local bishop, he noted his
responsibility to “call the media to fidelity in the use of means of
In his column, the bishop did not take issue with the paper's reporting, but with its editorial stances.
“In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other
correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of
the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of
women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial
contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident
theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a
litany of other issues.”
For example, a Dec. 3, 2012 editorial appeared on the Reporter's site
saying that “Catholic women who have discerned a call to the priesthood
and have had that call affirmed by the community should be ordained in
the Roman Catholic church.”
That editorial noted John Paul II's 1994 apostolic constitution,
requiring definitive assent, that the Church has no authority to ordain
women to the priesthood. The editorial stance noted, and disregarded,
the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's decision that the
teaching requires definitive assent and is part of the deposit of faith.
The Reporter was established in the Kansas City-Saint Joseph diocese in
1964. Bishop Finn noted that four years later, in 1968, “Bishop Charles
Helmsing...issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and
asked the publishers to remove the name 'Catholic' from their title – to
“From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching
and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.”
Canon 216 of the Church's Code of Canon Law says that while the
Christian faithful may promote or sustain their own apostolates,
“Nevertheless, no undertaking is to claim the name Catholic without the
consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.”
The Reporter's refusal to remove “Catholic” from their title contrasts
with the attitude of other media organizations. In December 2011 Michael
Voris' online network “Real Catholic TV” was requested by the
Archdiocese of Detroit to remove “Catholic” from its name.
Shortly thereafter, in June 2012, Voris changed the name to
“ChurchMilitant.TV,” complying with the request of the archdiocese where
the website's content is produced.
Fox backed up the Reporter's claim to the title “Catholic” by saying
that “Meanwhile, we belong to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’
sanctioned Catholic Press Association.”
When it was pointed out that Catholic Press Association is not
sanctioned by the U.S. bishops' conference, an editor's note was added
to Fox's piece explaining that the sentence has been changed to “better
reflect” the truth.
“Meanwhile, we are a part of the Catholic Press Association of the
United States and Canada, an independent membership association
comprised of Catholic media organizations and individuals,” it now
The Catholic Press Association's code of fair practices state that the
mission of an “authentically Catholic press is to inform and to form
public opinion in conformity with the Truth and the pursuit of truth.”
Fox also supported his publication's Catholic status by pointing out
that Bishop Finn's predecessor, Bishop Raymond Boland, interacted
positively with the paper on two occasions.
“Once, Boland came to our Kansas City, Mo., office and blessed our
building as we consulted with him about use of new emerging media
technologies. Later, Boland spoke at NCR's 40th anniversary ceremony in
In his Jan. 25 column, Bishop Finn's concluded his concerns with the
paper by saying, “While I remain open to substantive and respectful
discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my
ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to
the Church seems limited to the supernatural level. For this we pray:
St. Francis DeSales, intercede for us.”