National Catholic Reporter responds to Bishop Finn: “NCR is proud to call itself a Catholic publication”

After Friday’s column, in which Kansas City’s Bishop Robert Finn accused it of undermining church teaching, the National Catholic Reporter posted a response on its website Sunday:

Finn seems to  imply NCR has had bad relations with its local bishops since 1968. This has not been the case.  Bishop Helmsing’s successors – Bishop John Sullivan and Bishop Raymond Boland – had cordial relations with NCR. Once Boland came to our Kansas City office and blessed our building as we consulted with him about use of new emerging media technologies.  Later Boland spoke at NCR’s 40th anniversary ceremony in Washington, D.C.

In an email former NCR Publisher Sister of Saint Anne Rita Larivee, who was publisher at the time of Finn’s early years as diocesan bishop, remembers having respectful meetings with Finn. She wrote:

I personally visited with him in is office to welcome him to the diocese.  We had a fine conversation.  But during his first year, he made many significant changes within the diocese that caused many concerns for various groups.  Because of these shifts in previous policies,NCR wrote a story about this period of transition – Dennis Cody (now NCR Editor) wrote the story. Again, I visited with Bishop Finn in his office to assure him that this was a story about the changes that had taken place, as NCR does with other diocese, but that it was not an article about him personally.  …

Throughout my time at NCR, Bishop Finn was assured of direct access to me and I remember always responding immediately to any of his concerns.  We always had a very cordial relationship.  We agreed on the role of journalism and the accountability of institutions.

NCR is proud to call itself a Catholic publication. We report and comment on church matters including official teachings. We also report and comment on those who call into question some of these official teachings. Meanwhile, we belong to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ sanctioned Catholic Press Association. CPA judges have repeatedly cited us with awards for our coverage of the church.

As NCR Editor-at-Large (and former NCR Editor) Tom Roberts recently wrote: “NCR‘s bona fides rests on its nearly 50 years of professional journalism in service to the church … That both hierarchy and laity would find us, variously, a boon to faith and an annoyance, is to us a certain confirmation that we are fulfilling our intent to report the activity of the church as widely and deeply as possible.”

After a local  judge found Finn guilty last year of failing to report suspected child abuse involving a local priest NCR published an editorial calling on Finn to either resign or be removed from his position. NCR and other local news outlets, including the Kansas City Star provided ongoing coverage of the incident.

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