Bp. Finn calls out the National Catholic Reporter

The National Catholic Reporter (aka Fishwrap) conspired with others who are openly hostile to the Catholic Church to intimidate His Excellency Most Rev. Robert Finn into silence.

The fact is, the NCR is not a “Catholic” paper or news source. That was established years ago. But clearly NCR has worked incessantly to find every negative thing possible about Bp. Finn, and the tell it over and over again, in a way even Goebbels would admire, so that were Bp. Finn ever to exercise his office as bishop of the place where NCR is published, they could accuse him of retribution.

Talk about deflection of the most sinister kind.

In the newest edition of the diocesan paper of the Diocese of Kansas City – St. Joseph, Bp. Finn’s diocese, the bishop has an interesting column in which he calls out the NCR.

The paper has been released, though as I write this is not on the diocesan website yet.

Bishop Finn wrote a column entitled

The Bishop’s Role in Fostering the Mission of the Catholic Media.

He cites canon law and explains it and talks about the diocesan paper.

Then he writes:


In a different way, I am sorry to say, my attention has been drawn once again to the National Catholic Reporter, a newspaper with headquarters in this Diocese. I have received letters and other complaints about NCR from the beginning of my time here. 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 establised Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.

My predecessor bishops have taken different approches to the challenge. Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name “Catholic” from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.

When early in my tenure I requested that the paper submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law, they declined to participate indicating that they considered themselves and “independent newspaper which commented on ‘things Catholic.'” At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.

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.” 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.

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  1. Liz says:

    God bless Bishop Finn!

  2. JohnE says:

    Ironically, when RealCatholicTv was asked to change their name, they complied and changed to ChurchMilitant.TV. Not that further clues are needed to figure out who is faithful to the Magisterium, and thus truly Catholic.

  3. Jenice says:

    I live in Kansas City, although on the Kansas side, so not in Bishop Finn’s diocese. He is regularly beat up in the Kansas City Star as well as the Non Catholic Reporter. He is such a good man, and has numerous heavy crosses, so please pray for him.

  4. PomeroyonthePalouse says:

    As someone mentioned in another post (politicians and something or other), we must pray. pray. pray.
    St. Francis DeSales, intercede for us.

  5. Athelstan says:

    I’m curious to know what canonical remedies he has considered with regard to the Fishwrap and its staff.

    I can’t wait to read the full column.

  6. dominic1955 says:

    Good to hear from His Excellency. The sooner those traitors and their putrid rag go belly up, the better.

  7. RobertK says:

    Father can the bishop have their publications banned from church properties in his diocese. Or does that go against the first amendment in a court of law?.

  8. amsjj1002 says:

    I pray every day for this publication and several others of the same ilk, which I’m sure readers here can imagine. For its reformation or utter destruction, and I have to admit sometimes I’m not sure which I prefer. But it does make me not only angry but so sad to see that they write so much against our Faith.

  9. Supertradmum says:

    A great and clear letter. I use to live in this holy bishop’s diocese. Sad that the paper is even more disobedient and deceitful than we all imagined.

    God help those on the editorial staff and board for such belligerence to a man who should be a Prince of the Church.

  10. Jack Regan says:

    I completely agree with Bp. Finn in his stance. A newspaper, or indeed a person, can’t call itself Catholic and then actively promote non-Catholic viewpoints. So, Bp. Finn is right to challenge them and hopefully they will respond as Voris did and change their name.

    In the UK, the Catholic Bishops don’t control the Catholic media directly, but the Catholic papers are reliant on being sold in and through Catholic parishes. So, they dare not annoy a Bishop too much or he will just ban them from being sold in his Churches.

    I wonder if it’s the same in the US? It must be, at least in part?

    If so, and if they have refused to comply with legitimate requests from their Bishop, surely the USCCB – or at least some of its members – can step in and ban it in their Churches.

    That would make them sit up and take notice pretty quickly!

    On another note, I’m going to issue my usual plea not to get nasty. Nicknames like “fish wrap” aren’t helpful!

  11. jbas says:

    So, do they now, or do they not, have the right under canon law to use “Catholic” in their name? If not, and if there is a formal pronouncement somewhere on the diocesan website, then it would be easy to share this fact in parish bulletins and elsewhere.

  12. Phillip says:

    “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 establised Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.”

    I am by no means a canonist, but can’t the writers of these things be excommunicated?

  13. benedetta says:

    In the course of one of these recent discussions about the status of the fish wrap, someone mentioned that there had been litigation over the name at one time so I looked into this history.

    The paper was founded and in fact styles itself as a “watchdog” or “reporter” about things Catholic. Not as fellow Catholics, but, as we all know, from an anti-Catholic position. It monitors the Church and evaluates according to its own terms and criterion whether it believes the Church’s actions or teachings good or bad. In other words, it reports on to what extent the Church’s actions live up to some unstated but closely held beliefs that are known explicitly only to the NCR. One may surmise given their commentary on Church matters what they are using for their criterion. They have assigned themselves the “task” or “mission” of evaluating the Church’s teaching and actions from their own particular doctrinaire point of view.

    So they admit they are not “Catholic”. They are anti Catholic in fact, founded expressly so. A better name would be the “Anti-Catholic Reporter” which is truer and more authentic to their stated mission. That they retain the word Catholic and seek to dupe people that they are some sort of Catholic publication meant to enliven, enrich and empower the Church is a sort of tactic on the level of Alinsky et al.

  14. chantgirl says:

    If they are an independent newspaper, we shouldn’t expect to find them in the back of churches any more than we should expect to find free copies of the New York Times.

  15. Glen M says:

    Bishops have to stop using words and start taking action. Real action. It’s well past time they used their God given authority and lead their flocks instead of watching them fall off the cliff. They also have a God given responsibility to protect Jesus’ sheep.

    Example: Every diocesan bishops cancels any subscriptions to the NcR. They issue a mandate to every pastor to do likewise. They write a letter to be read in every parish outlining the NcR’s incessant history of dissent and the risk it carries to the eternal soul. Rather than re-instating the ‘Banned Books’ the USCCB creates a “Harmful To The Faith” advisory section on their website.

    “Silence implies consent” St. Boniface VIII

  16. Hilaritas says:

    As a Colton [on the Palouse] native, I appreciate seeing the handle @PomeroyonthePalouse

  17. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    If I understand correctly, Bishop Helmsing stripped them soundly of any legitimacy in his condemnation of their use of the name Catholic, while Bishop Finn gave legitimacy back by seemingly acknowledging them as a Catholic source.

    Am I wrong?

    I wish he had simply stated that they do not have permission to use the name “Catholic” and that they are not a faithful source. Moreover, I think there should be a media resource page at the USCCB for reporters to reference that collects names of sources like these. Who do many secular journalists turn to if not to the NC Reporter and contributors at times?

  18. Darren says:

    Re Jenice:
    He is regularly beat up in the Kansas City Star as well as the Non Catholic Reporter. He is such a good man, and has numerous heavy crosses, so please pray for him.

    Often the signs of a truly good man, of a saint in the making.

    Many prayers for this good bishop.

  19. Wayward Lamb says:

    As a member of Bp. Finn’s diocese, I am grateful he is speaking out, though I fully expect the devil to up the ante even further now at both Fishwrap and the Star. I am dedicating tonight’s rosary to our good bishop.

  20. Gail F says:

    “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.”

    HA HA HA! Good to see that Bishop Finn keeps his sense of humor despite all the hammering from all sides. I think a sense of humor should be a required quality for all bishops. I know I couldnt’ take relentless nastiness and criticism. Good thin I’m not a public figure, I guess…

  21. FrCharles says:

    At the beginning of my very brief tenure as the guardian (i.e. local superior) of one of our houses, the NCR stopped arriving. As it turned out, the subscription had been a personal one of the previous guardian, and it had gone with him. One of the friars, however, presuming that this lack was my fault, came to me in a somewhat irate self-presentation and asked if I had cancelled ‘our National Catholic Reporter.’

    “No, Brother, but I would be happy to,” I answered.

  22. Saor Alba says:

    Bishop Finn appears to be saying there is nothing he can do. As a non-American I am unfamiliar with your legal system, but would it not be within the power of the Church to sue the NCR over it’s use of the word “Catholic” in it’s title? I doubt Apple would tolerate a newpaper called the “National Apple Reporter” which maintained the editorialline that Microsoft products were much better.

    Even if it were not possible to get the NCR in a public court, couldn’t individual members of staff face sanctions under Canon Law?

    It seems to me that in either case if it can be done it should be done. Perhaps Father Z and/or someone with legal expertise could enlighten us.

  23. Vincent Ferrer says:

    Archbishop Lefebvre consecrated bishops without an Apostolic mandate. The world is told, “Automatic [latae sententiae] excommunication!” The archbishop is officially declared excommunicated by JP II immediately after the event.

    National “Catholic” Reporter editors over several decades publish numerous heresies. Public heresy results in automatic excommunication. The local bishop officially declares them excommunicated. (Oops, that didn’t happen.) The Holy See immediately publishes an official declaration of excommunication along with a letter of the Pope. (Oops, that didn’t happen either.)

    OJ may have gotten off scot free, but at least he was arrested and tried. It doesn’t quite take 20-20 vision to get this picture in focus. Prosecutors who refuse to prosecute are criminals. Those who condone heresy are heretics.

  24. In reading the article at In the Light of the Law, Dr. Peters does state that, in addition to the Canons, the eccliastical authority also has recourse to “the precepts.” I have seen a number of references to “the precepts” but I have not yet located on the web (let alone elsewhere) a good explanation of what the precepts are, or even more germane to the issue here, how they function (assuming they do) in a disciplinary sense. I am familiar with the term in non-juridical use as “a commandment, instruction, or order intended as an authoritative rule of action.” However, that leaves open how one translates from a rule (which may not specify a penalty for the failure of its observance) to the consequences. Can anyone point me to something that clearly explains that connection in an ecclesiastical sense, even if only by example?

    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

  25. Joe in Canada says:

    I don’t imagine the Church could have a trademark on the word Catholic. Just look at all the non-Catholic churches that use the word.
    I note that Michael Voris, when requested, removed the word Catholic. The NCR will not, just as “Catholics for Abortion” don’t. By their fruits, etc.

  26. Northern Ox says:

    Interestingly, they’re a member of the Catholic Press Association (and, in fact, get awards from them pretty much every year).

  27. Johnno says:

    Glen M –

    Sadly that’s not how things are done these days. Doing what you suggest will first be called upon to require a committee. This will take preparation to discuss. The first thing on the agenda will be who staffs the comittee. Many liberals will try to get in on this. Arguments will break out. There will be complaints one way or the other. Another committee meeting will be called to settle this. This will go on and nothing will get done. If they do by the grace of God get to the actual work the committee was set out to do… there will be those who will want every prudential, peaceful, soft hearted merciful kindly measure offered. Talks, invitations to the accused to luncheons to break the ice, they will dine and wine and try to make friends without ever broaching the subject. That difficult topic at hand will be set to come up at a later date that is yet unestablished. Someone will get fed up and demand they actually do the thing they were meant to do. They will be hushed and quieted for the sake of prudence and civility. Somewhere along the way everyone will forget just what it is they were supposed to be doing, and anyone initially fired up to do something will throw up their hands and leave accomplishing nothing given the great length of time it is taking and realizing that nothing will ever get done. Eventually they’ll likely just let it all drop quietly hoping the laypeople forget. And if God willing, they do reach a conclusion that is correct, there will be negligable consequences, and the world will be a far different and worse-off place in which to do it, and in the interim the problem at hand will have escalated, so whatever decision reached will be deemed unsuitable. They must now address the new expanded problem. So they will then call another comittee that will repeat this from step 1… We are a democratic people after all. We like to do things this way to a fault. And we will likely do it even when the hall is bruning down around us, and any impatient laypeople yelling and insisting we get some buckets of water to put out the incrementally spreading fire are ignored, told to stop, or do so conscientiously and prudentially and quietly without making a fuss. We wouldn’t want to cause a public panic after all nor to hurt the feelings of the arsonist such that it threathens the friendly relationship that just might be the bridge he would return back on, had they only realized he’d already burnt it.

  28. Nan says:

    @RobertK, the first amendment only applies if it is US government suppression of speech. The NCR is a non-profit and claims no affiliation with the Church so it doesn’t seem that it can be bound by Canon Law. [Oh?] The Church is thus free to state that its propaganda is not church-sanctioned despite its use of the word Catholic.

  29. I think that if I were Bishop Finn, I would prepare a hand-made sign reading “NOT CATHOLIC”, mount it on a stick, and, alone and unannounced, go stand in front of the paper’s headquarters and picket it. I would do this on an irregular basis until… well, it probably wouldn’t change anything. It would, however, be a humble way of making the point so that ordinary Catholics got the message.

  30. chantgirl says:

    Well, someone could publish an NCR Reporter, to report on the anti-Catholic activities of the NCR, and annoy them. However, I’m not sure they need to be given that much attention. They are a dying breed and will probably wither and go out with a whimper on their own in the next 15 years. However, I’m all for the Catholic version of sanctions against the individual catholics who are employed by the NCR.

  31. Joe in Canada says:

    If I remember correctly, in the early Church excommunication was not just medical, it was also a warning to Catholics that the person or group excommunicated was teaching dangerous error.

  32. Shamrock says:

    Might I suggest we support His Excellency by putting on the armor of truth and gird outselves
    with courage and *blast* this NCR ( Non-Catholic Reporter) by filling their comboxes with
    the true teachings of our Holy Mother Church. Of course with charity for all, as St Paul reminds
    us we must do, as true soldiers for Christ. I mean really rock the place! [The problem with that is that many people are zealous but poorly informed, and many who are informed don’t articulate their points very well.]

  33. Shamrock says:

    Father I respect your comment as being on the mark in generally but we are exhorted to know
    our faith and to proclaim it. Especially the laity in these times. Is not that what Pope Benedict XVIth has in mind when he talks about evangelization? Of course there are many gifts and not
    all have the same gifts the gospel tells us. But why object on the basis some people might not have
    the talent? I believe inspite of all the bad catechesis more lay Catholics are now better educated in terms of expressing themselves and many have a good command of the faith. There are many pre-Conciliar Catholics still around that were well catechized and many since then. I still think, with due respect , that it could be a “minstry” for those willing…and if someone *flubs* at least it might open a fruitful discussion. What is worse is to remain silent!

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