Catholic Press Association awards pro-LGBT publication at odds with Church teaching on contraception, abortion
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CHICAGO, Illinois, July 9, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – The Catholic Press Association has again awarded the dissident National Catholic Reporter with the first prize in the best newspaper category. This is the 18th time in 20 years. The National Catholic Reporter has repeatedly defended positions that are at odds with Catholic teaching, including on topics such as homosexuality, contraception, abortion, and female ordination to name a few.
According to the Catholic Press Association (CPA), “The purpose of the Catholic Press Awards is to acknowledge the outstanding work of its Publisher and Communication members as they strive to further the mission of the Church.” It remains unclear how a publication like the National Catholic Reporter, which regularly undermines the Church’s teaching, furthers that mission.
The judges of the CPA, nonetheless, said the National Catholic Reporter was “a top tier publication,” adding it was “written and edited with clarity and authority.”
In addition to winning first prize as best newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter was also awarded the first price as best website of a newspaper.
The National Catholic Reporter received prizes in several other categories.
Observers might question the value of awards given by the CPA. In 2020 alone, the list of winners in dozens of categories consists of more than 100 pages. Categories include obscure headlines like “Best Annual Report - (Arch) Diocesan Finances” and “Best Editorial on a Local Issue - Weekly Diocesan Newspaper, Circulation 25,000 or Less.”
With that many categories, almost every publication that is part of the CPA is sure to receive some award in the end.
Prizes could be characterized as meaningless for another reason. Each submission, which individuals or organizations send in to be considered for an award, costs $36, making the annual awards an enormous fundraising event for the CPA. Submissions filed late cost $45.
According to the CPA’s most recent annual report, the awards accounted for an income of $144,500 in 2018, as opposed to expenses of under $33,000. Thus, the organization made more than $112,000 off its awards program, which is supposed to “acknowledge the outstanding work of its Publisher and Communication members as they strive to further the mission of the Church.”
Payroll and office overhead accounted for over $440,000. These appear to be needed by the CPA to provide a variety of programs “to support members.” The list is limited to the following items:
- Professional development: the Catholic Media Conference and webinars
- Networking opportunities both in-person and through social channels
- Consultation services to analyze and improve procedures of member organizations
- Award programs to acknowledge excellence in the field
- Member newspaper to inform on best practices, first amendment rights issues, and upcoming events
LifeSiteNews reached out to the CPA, asking how an organization claiming to “strive to further the mission of the Church” could recognize a dissident publication with awards. The CPA had not responded at the time of this writing.
The CPA is led by J.D. Long-García, senior editor for America, another dissident publication run by the Jesuits. The magazine is well known for the involvement of pro-homosexual Jesuit priest Fr. James Martin as editor-at-large.
LifeSiteNews also asked CPA Honorary President, Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, for his thoughts on the CPA honoring the National Catholic Reporter. A diocesan spokeswoman replied that “Bishop Burbidge was not involved in the selection process for the Catholic Press Association awards.”
The National Catholic Reporter, which according to the CPA is the best Catholic newspaper in the country, was recently criticized by popular blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf for its position on women deacons.
Calling it the “Fishwrap,” he commented, “Fishwrap and Fishwrap’s promotrix of deaconettes, Phyllis Zagano, are not happy at the appointment of an American woman who is a professor at the Ukrainian Catholic University in Lviv, Catherine Brown Tkacz (‘tuh-kotch’). Tkacz, a serious scholar, wrote an unfavorable review of one of Zagano’s books, calling it ‘flawed’, which in academic parlance is … one way to say it.”
“Fishwrap doesn’t like Fr. Manfred Hauke, who has written against the ordination of women,” Zuhlsdorf added.
“Fishwrap doesn’t like Caroline Farey, who hasn’t written on the topic,” he continued, only to conclude, “Apparently they don’t like women without a preconceived bias towards ordination.”
Female deacons are not possible, given perennial Church teaching. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, explained in 2019, “It stems from the ‘divine constitution of the Church,’ as Pope John Paul II has reliably decided, that the Church has no authority to administer to women priestly ordination. This is not the conclusion from history, but, rather, stems from the divine constitution of the Church. This of course applies to all three sacramental degrees,” namely bishops, priests, and deacons.
Additionally, Müller rejected the idea of speaking “of female non-sacramental deacons, thereby establishing the illusion that this is about reviving a past – but only temporarily and regionally limited – institution of the deaconesses of the Early Church.”
Apart from questioning Church teaching, the National Catholic Reporter has also criticized that wealthy businessmen in the United States are giving money to faithfully Catholic organizations like EWTN. This behavior, the newspaper argued, led to “the very idea of Catholic culture … being squeezed into a narrow frame where God conforms to American norms and ambitions.”
That particular article won first place in the category of “Best Editorial on a National or International Issue - National Newspaper” this year.
A similar set of four articles, looking specifically into “the connections between Catholic media conglomerate EWTN, conservative donors and the Republican Party,” was awarded first place in “Best Analysis/Background/Round-Up News Writing.”
In a 2013 interview, Bishop Michael Sheridan of Colorado Springs told LifeSiteNews that the National Catholic Reporter is “an embarrassment to the Catholic Church.”
Earlier that same year, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, where the newspaper’s offices are located, published a column reminding the paper and the faithful that it had been forbidden from using the name “Catholic” since 1968.