THE ISSUE THAT WON'T GO AWAY
The Banning of NOR's "trademark" ads

November 1998By Dale Vree



We thought the issue would gradually shrivel up, but it has blossomed. We refer to the matter of the banning of the NEW OXFORD REVIEW's "trademark" ads by America, the National Catholic Register, and Our Sunday Visitor and all its sister periodicals. Although we are tiring of the issue, we do need to bring you up-to-date, go over some of the particulars, defend our position, and comment on the bigger picture. Once all that is out of the way, we will conclude with a proposal for resolving the problem with regard to our allies at the Register and the Our Sunday Visitor corporation (unfortunately, we can think of no possible resolution with regard to America).

Initially, we kept quiet about the banning, but when I happened to be reviewing a book published by Our Sunday Visitor Books called The Search for Common Ground, and found that it advocated accommodating dissent in the Church, I had an "aha" experience. I realized that I could not in good conscience remain silent about the banning any longer, so I discussed it in the review, which was published in our February 1998 issue, and there was related commentary in that issue and subsequent issues. Ever since February we've been flooded with letters, faxes, and phone calls about the banning. We could only publish a small sampling of the many, many supportive messages in our letters section. We received some criticisms of our protest, and we published virtually all of them.

Unlike the Register and the Our Sunday Visitor corporation's periodicals, America announced the banning of our ads in its pages (Nov. 1, 1997). Before the NOR said anything about our ads being banned, James K. Fitzpatrick roasted America for banning our ads in an op-ed piece in The Wanderer (Jan. 1, 1998), as did This Rock in the "Dragnet" section of its January 1998 issue. After the NOR announced that our ads had been banned by America, the Register, and the Our Sunday Visitor periodicals, The Wanderer published a rather lengthy news story on the matter by Paul Likoudis (May 7, 1998), which was entirely favorable to the NOR's position. We were of course most grateful for all this unsolicited support.

Then I received a phone call from Pamela Schaeffer at the National Catholic Reporter (not to be confused with the Register), saying she wanted to interview me, as well as other interested parties, about the controversy. In her conversations with me, Schaeffer posed a perceptive question: Does the banning of our ads by Our Sunday Visitor Inc. (OSV Inc.) and the Register signify a split among orthodox Catholics? I paused before answering, then said I didn't know but hoped not. It's a question that continues to haunt me, and to which I will return.


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