Action Alert!

citing the National Catholic Reporter

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 23, 2010

Several readers on the Catholic Culture site have protested our use of stories from the National Catholic Reporter, pointing out that newspaper's strong affiliation with radical Catholic dissidents. Their complaints deserve a response.

The National Catholic Reporter-- which, I remind readers, must be distinguished from the National Catholic Register, another weekly with a very different editorial approach-- is indeed guilty of publishing a great deal of dissent against Church teaching. I have no love for the newspaper. But then, I have no love for the New York Times or CNN or the Boston Globe, all of which are cited occasionally in our news stories. By citing a story I do not mean to imply endorsement of the outlet's overall editorial slant.

The National Catholic Reporter has, for all its faults, provided some groundbreaking reporting on the sex-abuse crisis. Jason Berry, the author of several recent investigative stories, has frequently led the way in exposing abuses; although I have not always shared his perspective I have admired his tenacity. John Allen, the veteran Vatican correspondent for the paper, is in my judgment a fair and reliable observer. 

In short, while I do not recommend the Reporter's editorials, and I do recommend a cautious approach to their news analysis, I think a careful reader can profit from the paper's reporting. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: jbryant_132832 - Apr. 26, 2010 4:02 PM ET USA

    I understand that citing the NCR does not imply endorsement. You are, however far more charitable than I when it comes to this liberal rag. They may have been doing "groundbreaking reporting on the sex-abuse crisis", but I would bet a months pay that it is motivated more out of their glee at bashing the hierarchy than any journalistic excellence. Let's not forget that Bishop Weakland of Milwaukee was practically their patron saint when he was in office.

  • Posted by: JARay - Apr. 24, 2010 4:33 AM ET USA

    I did comment earlier on the NCReporter's posting about the dissident nuns wanting to promote their Order within their diocese. My comment then was that I had never seen so many posts from people who were obviously BAD Catholics. My own comment on that site was not published.

  • Posted by: michaelwilmes - Apr. 24, 2010 12:27 AM ET USA

    Bingo, Phil. In an earlier piece you picked up from NCR.....John Allen had an article on Archbishop Chaput, which was not only timely, but quite supportive of Chaput's orthodoxy. This "Der Vanderer" subscriber is only too glad to give the NCR credit when credit is due. It is indeed a victory for Christ each and every time the NCR "gets one right". Praise God for that.