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Putting Up The “For Sale” Sign At National Catholic Reporter Is Easy

October 3, 2018 Frontpage No Comments

By SHAUN KENNEY

Michael Sean Winters is one of those oddities of American Catholicism. His recent op-ed in the National Catholic Reporter (aka “The Fishwrap”) focuses on some over the very same topics we touched on last week — the infection of Jansenism and clericalism within the American hierarchy (see NCR, “Worldliness is the very heart of the Catholic Church’s crisis,” September 12, 2018).
There’s a fraction of his argument that is absolutely spot on. The American Church, imitating former cardinal Theodore McCarrick — and I would further argue by extension, Francis Cardinal Spellman — chose to imitate his charm, wit, popularity, and above all his skills as a fundraiser.
This emphasis on the practical and the pragmatic rather than on wisdom and holiness raised to positions of power and influence some great administrators, but not good priests.
Winters even goes so far as to correctly diagnose the problem. Opening schools, keeping the music program up and running, and preserving our churches and cathedrals are all noteworthy and marvelous outward signs of the “cultural Catholic” in the world.
Yet at the very moment that you think Winters might be coming around? His secular faith imposes upon his sacred one, and he lashes out at Catholic University for hosting a three-day summit on the dignity of work sponsored by none other than Charles Koch of Americans for Prosperity fame.
Winters suggests that if he could carry a sign, it might read that “Catholic Church is not for sale” — which is cute, but not the point.
What Winters and his allies on the political left are decrying isn’t the fact that the Catholic Church must take alms, but rather from whom they must take these alms. Or rather, they can’t see past their own conditions for almsgiving — from Spellman to today, the “for sale” sign was on the Catholic Church in order to bend Catholic teaching ever so slightly in line with the American left on matters various and sundry.
What matters is here is that they themselves would demand their pound of flesh from the Church; it only stands to reason that men like Koch, Busch, Monaghan, and various foundations such as the Napa Institute and Legatus would demand likewise.
In short, the old wineskin is about to run out. Heavens forbid that the Catholic Church sober up and take a new one.

Outside Of The Church

Of course, none of this is really the point. National “Catholic” Reporter still remains in violation of the Code of Canon Law 1369 as a publication that “excites hatred of for contempt for religion or the Church.” The publication has repeatedly called for the ordination of women, undermined Church teaching on contraception and abortion, and taken a decidedly political and leftist bent rather than advocating for an authentic or faithful Catholicism in the public square.
Winters’ viewpoints are most decidedly placed outside of the Church, and therefore must be treated as such, even if the masthead reads “Catholic” despite the warnings of the local ordinary.
Yet Winters and the dissidents at NCR really haven’t been good at taking their own medicine. As a 501(c)3, their donations do not have to be released to the public for scrutiny — meaning that we have no idea who is paying them to put forward certain perspectives.
Yet over the last five years, NCR has seen its income skyrocket dramatically. Their 2012 IRS Form 990 showed their total revenues at a scant $4.2 million. By 2017, that number had increased to nearly $7 million. Contributions and grants to keep them well flushed skyrocketed from $1.2 million to $4.6 million — a $3.4 million increase that more than accounts for NCR’s financial robustness.
Their fundraising expenses are the tell. For salary, they paid $181,496 in wages, yet curiously enough they spent precisely zero dollars in professional fundraising services. Only $2,767 was spent on advertising, while $24,228 was spent on travel.
We have a word for this kind of odd.
That we have agitators from a publication that remains in open violation of canon law is a mortal strike against the unity of the Church. Should Archbishop Daniel DiNardo, as the current head of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops see fit, he could very well revoke their press credentials at any USCCB event — as several Catholic organizations and personalities have begged the bishops to do out of consistency with canon 1369, not out of spite.
If money corrupts, then the folks at the Fishwrap need to take a look into their own wallets and be the first to expose themselves to scrutiny. Who has invested such resources into their activities over the last five years? What do they expect in return? Why has NCR continued to oppose the Magisterium? Most important, why do they continue to define themselves as “Catholic” when they act in direct opposition to the Catholic Church’s teaching on life, marriage, abortion, and so forth.
In short, we have not just mediocre Pelagians but outright Jansenists infecting the faithful, individuals who believe they can conform to the political pragmatism of the progressive left yet despair in the Church and her sacraments as having any efficacious power to become truly holy themselves.
What’s worse, they are effectively paid to believe these things and push a certain alternative worldview.
Call it whatever you’d like, but please quit calling it Catholicism and, for the love of God, please quit giving it press credentials.

Send Me Your Thoughts

Questions? Comments? Brilliant thoughts? Please feel free to send any correspondence for First Teachers to Shaun Kenney, c/o First Teachers, 5289 Venable Road, Kents Store, VA 23084 — or if it is easier, simply send me an e-mail with First Teachers in the subject line to: svk2cr@virginia.edu.

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