See Part 1

Commentary By Louie Verrecchio

WASHINGTON, DC, December 11, 2009 ( – CNS’ cavalier attitude toward orthodoxy is not confined to its recent treatment of the life issue alone. Some other examples, just to name a few:

In 2005, CNS issued a glowing review of the movie “Brokeback Mountain” and rated the homosexual propaganda piece as suitable for a “limited adult audience.” Following the backlash of outraged readers, CNS eventually changed the rating to “morally offensive,” but the fawning assessment of the film as “a serious contemplation on loneliness and connection” remains unchanged to this very day, however.

In August 2008, a CNS feature article on the origins of the Bible offered the erroneous claim that, “The Catholic version of the Bible is actually a library of books specifically chosen to reflect Catholic teaching.” When confronted with the fact that the First Vatican Council specifically condemned this error, and that Vatican II reiterated the long held Catholic teaching that the books of Sacred Scripture are canonical for the solitary reason that they have God as their Author, Mr. Spence personally dismissed out of hand any suggestion of offering a correction.

In April 2009, another of CNS’ syndicated columnists offered praise for an elderly priest for possessing the “scholarly acquiescence to nuance our church sometimes forgets,” all because he has the high-mindedness to invoke the Holy Spirit as “She.” Whether or not anyone at CNS knows or cares that the Congregation for Divine Worship clearly forbade such un-Traditional acts of Divine gender-bending is anyone’s guess.

So, how will the USCCB – our “authentic teachers endowed with the authority of Christ,” (Lumen Gentium 25) – respond to the challenge of CNS’ apparently unbridled hubris? Stay tuned.

The more pressing question is how should the Catholic faithful, respond?

For starters, they need to start behaving as responsible consumers of Catholic media, spending their time and our money wisely.

Even though CNS makes the claim that it is “financially self-sustaining,” don’t be fooled.

Many parishes “force feed” subscriptions to the diocesan newspaper upon their parishioners, paying for them with parish funds and then making special appeals for reimbursement at a later date. In some places, diocese-wide collections are undertaken specifically to raise money for the official newspaper, but in all cases the diocesan newspapers pay CNS for the content they provide and are a major source of CNS’ revenue.

Dioceses throughout the U.S. also participate annually in the USCCB’s National Collection for the Catholic Communications Campaign. Fifty percent of the money raised is retained by the diocese to fund special projects which, according to the Conference website, includes “efforts such as televised Masses and diocesan newspapers.” The remainder of the National Collection is used by the USCCB to fund special media projects like the aforementioned CNS movie reviews.

The bottom line is this; CNS is subsidized to no small extent with money donated by hard working Catholics, many of whom would never knowingly choose to underwrite Douglas Kmiec’s syndicated columns or the other kinds of questionable content that we’ve been discussing here.

The “people in the pews” need to soberly consider whether or not their diocesan newspapers are truly worthy of support based on the quality of their content alone. Many certainly are, but if yours is not; don’t allow yourself to be quietly forced into supporting it. Offer respectful but candid feedback to the editors, pastors and bishops involved, letting them know that you will not fund media content that misrepresents the Catholic faith.

As responsible media consumers Catholic readers of this article can force publications like their local diocesan newspaper, and news outlets like CNS, to earn their keep by offering real value in the marketplace of authentic Catholic content.

Catholics also need to make it a point to support and promote those Catholic media outlets that, unlike CNS enjoy neither the imputed prestige of being attached to the USCCB nor the financial perks that come with it, yet contentiously uphold their duty to communicate the authentic faith just the same. If you are unable to support these dependable media sources financially – and they do exist – at the very least you can help them expand their readership base by spreading the word to other faithful Catholics.

Most of all, there must be prayers for all involved, especially the sacred pastors, that they will be endowed with the grace and the courage necessary to protect the faithful from false teachings in all of its many forms.

Louie Verrecchio is the author of Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II; an international faith formation tool endorsed by George Cardinal Pell that explores the documents of the Second Vatican Council.