Finding the Right Door
Back in your November 1995 issue, I wrote an article entitled “Knocking on the Church’s Door…” about my frustrations in seeking to join the Catholic Church. Looking for solid instruction, I kept running into a glib, New Agey Catholicism.
Well, I want to let you and your readers know that I was finally baptized into the Catholic Church on May 3. I found a small Franciscan parish in Pismo Beach. It is traditional in a matter-of-fact way. I found myself happy there, and decided it was time to walk through that good door.
I owe much to the NOR and its readers for sustenance during my search.
Kent M. Brudney
San Luis Obispo, California
About the Register, etc.
When I learned that NOR ads had been banned from certain Catholic publications, I faxed them, asking them to reconsider. The problem is that Our Sunday Visitor rejected your ads for blanket criticism of the American bishops (which seems reasonable). As for the National Catholic Register: First, that paper is not on the verge of folding, it’s flourishing. Second, the Register does take stands on controversial issues — and it has been consistently orthodox since the Legionaries have taken over. Third, it is willing to accept your ads, and, according to its Publisher, Fr. Owen Kearns, you agreed with his critique of your current ads’ content, and you agreed with his view that these ads do not fit in the Register.
Stop picking fights with people you should be defending! I am not just talking about the Register, and to an extent Our Sunday Visitor, but about your strange criticism of Fr. Fessio and Phil Lawler.
We thank you for contacting those publications on behalf of the NOR. Obviously, however, misunderstandings have crept in at certain points along the line, and clarification is called for. None of our ads contains “blanket criticism of the American bishops.” Whether or not the Register is flourishing, time will tell. As for the Register’s orthodoxy and its approach to controversies in the Church, and what kind of NOR ads the Register would be willing to print, we addressed all that in our June issue (see the editorial, and the Ed. Note on p. 9). We never “agreed with [Fr. Kearns’s] critique of [our] current ads’ content,” and we never “agreed with his view that these ads do not fit in the Register.” As for “picking fights”: The NOR did not start this. Finally, the NOR has never criticized, strangely or otherwise, Fr. Fessio or Phil Lawler.
Okay, the Register Isn't Insipid
In the June issue two correspondents took me to task for my description of the National Catholic Register as “insipid” (in my letter, Aprib~ They are correct; it was a poor choice of a word. After all, the Register does carry interesting news items and does give robust treatment to prolife matters and issues of Catholic culture.
Still, the Register’s treatment of matters of controversy within the Church, matters of immense importance, is generally low-key and noncommittal. When the Register deems it fit to address those matters, it usually does a disservice to the Catholic people by giving the impression that there is basically peace in Zion when, to the contrary, there is the sound of cannons at her gates and multitudes are clamoring in her streets.
Whatever word or words best characterize this situation, “insipid” is not quite appropriate; perhaps “grossly negligent” would do better. Now, what orthodox Catholic newspaper would wish to take as its heraldic device an ostrich with his head in the sand?
William J. Tighe
Mayesville, South Carolina
Catholics Aren't Stupid
Regarding the banning of your ads by Our Sunday Visitor (OSV) and the Register: I dropped notes to Greg Erlandson at OSV and Fr. Owen Kearns at the Register expressing my discontent with their policies as well as with the approach of much of the Catholic press. These notes have led to an ongoing correspondence with Erlandson and one letter from Fr. Kearns. Both gentlemen insist that NOR ads ridicule average parish priests, a charge I find silly. Unless I am missing something, it appears that OSV and the Register have little confidence in the ability of practicing Catholics to be aware of and understand the internal conflict taking place in the Church.
In his letter to me, Fr. Kearns enclosed a letter he wrote to Dale Vree, Editor of the NOR, in which Kearns asserts that Vree acknowledges that Vree is not fully behind the NOR ads and is at the mercy of his advertising wizards. But this contradicts the Editor of First Things, Fr. Richard John Newhaus, who says Vree himself writes the ads. Whatever the case, I hope you won’t soften the message of your ads.
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Let the air be taken from me;
Let no water touch my tongue.