The sex-abuse scandal has underscored the importance of independent Catholic journalism. The Church needs objective Catholic voices—both as a defense from embedded media bias and as an encouragement to stand by the Magisterium. With that in mind, Cruses has been a dues-paying member of the Catholic Press Association (CPA) for many years.
But this afternoon, with some sadness, we decided to withdraw from the CPA. I want you to know why.
In its annual letter asking for yearly dues and additional donations for an international effort, the CPA included a blatantly ideological screed that has no place in an organization of diverse Catholic publications:
The events of 9/11/2001 and the U.S. wars on Afghanistan and Iraq tempt Americans to retreat into isolationism…. The continuing war on terrorism and the rebuilding of Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the role the United States is playing, calls for Americans to reengage the world. It’s time to stop circling the wagons and think of how all citizens of this world can work together better.
I wonder if the families of those who have given their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan in the cause of freedom would agree with the CPA’s assumption that the United States needs to “reengage the world.”
This kind of comment simply has no place in a CPA mailing to its membership: It’s the job of Catholic publications themselves to opine on matters political. If the CPA is to support the entire spectrum of legitimate Catholic publications, it should keep its political judgments to itself.
The CPA has been kind to Crisis over the years, giving us many first-place awards for overall magazine excellence, best article, best interview, etc., and having a good dose of the competitive spirit, I’ll miss submitting our best work to its expert panels.
But I just can’t send an organization a check when it lacks the discipline to contain its political and theological prejudices. Over the years, I’ve noticed a liberal tilt in the CPA’s actions— something I’ve chosen to ignore, in the hope that things would change (maybe I was naive). Unfortunately, this letter is the last straw. It’s a shame that the CPA has decided to make some of its faithful members feel unwelcome just because we don’t share its dubious view of U.S. foreign policy regarding the threat of terrorism.
It’s high time for the CPA to wake up and realize that the assumption that all Catholic publications are left-leaning is no longer true. For example, Dr. Scott Hahn’s books for Harper & Row are now best-sellers among religion books. George Weigel’s series of books following his magisterial biography of Pope John Paul II are gaining a wide audience, both at home and abroad, where they’re available in translation. Magazines like First Things, Envoy, This Rock, Catholic World Report, Inside the Vatican, and Touchstone have a healthy following. And, I’m proud to say, Crisis now has its highest circulation in the 21-year history of the magazine, closing in on the 27,000 mark (our weekly e-letter is sent to more than 28,000!).
Dissenting and left-leaning Catholic publishing, on the other hand, will continue to wither away. The generation of priests and laypeople led by the Holy Father has little interest in the America-bashing of the graying Catholic left (okay, I’m gray myself, but you get the point).
Someday—I hope—we may be able to rejoin the CPA. But its leadership will have to realize that such outbursts are utterly out of place in a “non-ideological” organization. Rather, it should be encouraging all of its members, not just those who share its personal agenda.