I. Now you'd think with a name like the Canadian Catholic News that we're talking about some super duper cooperative news service on par, say, with the USCCB's Catholic New Service. Well, it ain't CNS and you will recall CCN member sites do carry the CNS feed. Listed at its website, CCN full members are the Catholic Register, B.C. Catholic, New Freeman, Western Catholic Reporter and Prairie Messenger. Strange is it that other listed members still include Antigonish's Atlantic Catholic, Montreal's Catholic Times and Greg Baum's Catholic New Times. The first became defunct in 2010, the second is immanently kaput because of a financial dispute, and the third, a Marxist screed sheet, ceased publication long ago... in 2006. So it seems the CCN website is overdue for an aggiornamento, as the Nu-Church hipsters have said and sung. You might recognize them on the left.
II. But don't be fooled by the diminution. Lesser size, not lesser significance (we will return to this overlooked aspect in a moment). And don't forget they are transitioning from print to internet, albeit with a time lag. Just now the Canadian Catholic MSM is emerging from the Information Superhighway stage of the "world wide web". Sooooooo 90s. On surface appearance CCN states that it "brings together the efforts of Catholic newspapers, radio and television across Canada, to provide an accurate, dependable coast-to-coast picture of the Catholic Church in action". This "in action" stuff seems exciting, in a Geraldo Rivera kind of way that is. For outsiders who follow the guts of Church affairs in Canada and see through the cheesy moustache facade, "accurate, dependable" and "Canadian Catholic media" aren't coterminous clauses. There are a rare exceptions. Today, however, we're zooming in on life in the bubble as such. Let's see if we can burst a few of them.
III. First let's look at some paid circulation statistics and try to form a picture as to what's going on here. Nothing complicated like a non-linear regression model. Just the basics. Canada's oldest English language Catholic sheet is the Catholic Register. CR today is certainly not what it was when it started way back in 1830. Like many Catholic periodicals suckered in by the hippy hype, its downslide began after V2. But in 1973 Larry Henderson, loyal to the Magisterium, took the reigns as editor and increased its circulation from 30,000 to 60,000 by the time he vamoosed in 1986. Just over two decades later when the apostatic Joe Sinasac ended his tenure as editor at CR in late 2008, circulation had again dwindled, hovering around 34,000. Sinasac's swan song piece before jumping ship was to ass lick Hans "King" Küng. He now heads the geriatric corps that run Novalis Publishers. Go figure.
IV. Edmonton's Western Catholic Reporter has comparable circulation at approximately 35,500. Its current editor is one Glen Argan who, the evidence shows, has gots da hots for Sr. Elizabeth Johnson. It should be noted that Lizzie has a notorious reputation. No, not the one of axe wielding fame. Instead this little muffin is into chopping up Church doctrine, by endorsing womyn's ordination, goddess worship and feminizing the Holy Trinity. Indeed, Lizzie's exegesis on the latter topic has apparently unloosened the knot in Glen's panties. Last March the boyz south of the 49th parallel called for the banning of her 2007 book Quest for the Living God. The fact that the American bishops, Conciliarists galore, took this action says much. Still out west is Vancouver's B.C. Catholic, with a circulation at around 19000. Lower down the circulation rung is the Prairie Messenger, based out of Saskatchewan, ringing in at 6800. Heading back east, the number is 7300 for the New Freeman and, before its demise, the Atlantic Catholic had a final circulation of 1280. The Catholic Times had about 10,000 subscribers.
V. Allllrighteeee, then. We have some numbers with which to work. Consider now that 46 percent of Canadians are Catholic, a total of 13,070,000 people, based on 2008 data. The stats above show that current circulations only range from 6800 to just over 35000. Thus readership is negligible when compared to the overall Catholic populace. Geographical and age factors also come into play. For instance, the Catholic Register, branding itself as "Canada's Catholic News Source", is not so much national as provincial since its readers are mainly Ontarians. The average age of readers of the Western Catholic Reporter scores in at a babybooming 61, i.e. "I've fallen and I can't get up". The minuscule circulation numbers of these papers relative to the total number of Catholics in Canada might lead one to conclude on their insignificance. Not so. These papers are not just outlets for "social justice" groups to promote whatever trendy cause. Neither are they just space-fillers for Ron Rolhesier's pop-psychology ruminations. Rather - as has often been observed for Catholic organs outside of Canada, the importance of these older periodicals in the post-V2 era is that they are read by establishment Catholics. They set the atmosphere, determining what Catholic-related stories are newsworthy, highlighting causes they think are relevant (e.g. anti-bottled water campaign, climate change) while omitting or de-emphasizing those they think not (e.g. life issues, threat of Jihadism). Not a little of this "journalism" is directed toward influencing appointments and making sure that monies garnered from either pew-sitters or government taxes go to "the right groups". You know. And all of this eventuates within the Bubble World of the "professional Catholic" class. As for the majority of Catholics? Well, they're just... there. Along for the ride, to watch the show, and where we go you'll never know.
VI. Not just for the now diminishing print media, the aforementioned situation is also occurrent in Catholic cyberspace. For a demonstration of this we go to the luvvies at the Salt + Light Media Foundation. Besides its television broadcasts - which isn't exactly pulling in Catholic viewers en masse - there is the state-of-the-art website. It has everything: you can watch and listen to S+L programs, you can subscribe to its own hardcopy magazine Lampstand, you can read its multitudinous articles and blog posts, you can purchase swag from the online store, Twitter, Facebook. Bing bang boom... everything. A veritable cornucopia of El Presidente-approved delights. But let me now introduce you Mr. Caveat. El Presidente, that would be S+L CEO Fr. Thomas Rosica, recently claimed that his blog at the website under perusal receives 70,000 visitors per week - not so fast Catholic peoples. An inquisitive blogger found that Fr. Tom, as per usual, isn't backing up his claim with something called "facts". Firstly, a little reminder of the definition of the word "fact" from a reliable dictionary: "the quality of being actual, something that has an actual existence, an actual occurrence, a piece of information presented as having objective reality". Hope that wasn't too difficult... In actuality, the entire Salt+Light website, not just Rosica's blog, receives approximately 1700 to 9800 hits per month. And is it not devastating that LifeSite News, Salt+Light's arch-nemesis, gets 150,000 to upwards of 200,000 visitors per month? The facts can be observed here and here. As I write, LSN has 9277 "likes" on its Facebook "like box" (8452 on April 20). Salt+Light has 3473 "likes" (3257 on April 20). Salt+Light's Facebook "like box" has since been removed from the website's main home page when last April this blogger contrasted the enormity of the numerical divide.
VII. So here we have an establishment media outlet that gets the big money from la famiglia Gagliano yet cannot compete with the readership of an underdog like LSN, regularly strapped for financial support. Accordingly, Salt+Light's significance, as with the "venerable" print newspapers, lies only in the fact that it is bolstered by establishment Catholics. In this case, it's principally the business glitterati that sit on the S+L board of directors: CEO's at St. Joseph's Communications, Longo Brothers Fruit Markets Incorporated, Clearwater Capital Management Incorporated, Diamante Development Corporation, Carpe Diem Growth Capital, CPI Card Group, UCS Forest Group and Venterra Realty Management. The latter, incidentally, is a supporter of Susan G. Komen, big time donor to Planned Parenthood. NCR's John Allen, Jr. has proclaimed that his bosom buddy Fr. Rosica possesses "business moxie". Evidently, not enough moxie. Venterra Realty would have been barred from the S+L board had it been properly vetted in the first place. Or so one would think. Google it. It's that simple.
VIII. Time now to head out into Prairie country and visit the Fabianist folks at the Prairie Messenger. Here we will find an example of how these "professional Catholic" types network with one another inside Bubble World. The editor at PM is Peter Novecosky, OSB. Before anything else, the thing you have to understand about Pete is that he's into, like, dissent n'stuff. He makes darn well sure that the Prairie Messenger is peppered will all manner it. On its links page there are connections to the sites of The Stephen Lewis Foundation, certainly a good friend of the Church; to the pro-aborts at Amnesty International; to the National Catholic Reporter, nuff said; and, tally ho!, to Development and Peace, of which we shall return in a moment. If you read PM online - and I highly advise against it, unless you want to bore and/or infuriate yourself into a coma - you really have to wonder why it classifies itself as a "Catholic Journal". Its contents contain the usual heterodox fare, like the CNS news feed, Rollie's "In Exile" column, opinion pieces favourable to women's ordination, nature worship, Statism and so forth. Some of the material is just downright annoying, like its "Around the Kitchen Table" commentaries. I'm talking Jar Jar Binks annoying. But that's a story for another day.
IX. If you've been following the continuing saga on the Development and Peace scandal you would know that, as of late May, Fr. Luis Arriaga Valenzuela has left his position as head of the pro-abort supporting PRODH group, based out of Mexico, supported by D+P. Seems he's looking for another gig. I suggest he apply to be a sales rep for Armani suits. Strike a pose. Still, it's no coincidence that Arriaga's departure came so soon after Abp. Prendergast did a "no way José" and cancelled his Ottawa speaking engagement for the D+P crowd in early April. Funding for PRODH has just been cut and it's also not helpful that Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City wrote in a letter last week that PRODH:
...does NOT represent the sentiments of the Church and has been characterized by its support and encouragement of groups and activities that are an affront to Christian values... the organization has supported pro-abortion groups and promoted the purported woman's right over her body, against unborn life.Ouch. Accordingly, D+P members have switched into hissy fit mode. A petition has been drafted demanding that they not:
...be intimidated or paralyzed by the devious and misleading attacks of fundamentalist movements seeking Conservative support in Episcopate Canada... to put aside the fear to face the political conservatism that plagues our society and our choices.Members of D+P have also produced a blog, filled with videos, support letters and other manifestations of desperation. And it seems that others are getting in on the action: the Quebec labour union Confédération des Syndicats Nationaux (CNS), the Provincial Superiors of the Jesuits of Mexico and Canada (Fr. Arriaga is a Jesuit); the dissenting priest Fr. Claude Lacaille, aided by the leftist paper Le Devoir and - surprise! - Fr. Raymond Gravel. Hark, is that lavender I hear fluttering in the wind? Indeed, it's like the good old days, when they protested against "The Man", except today a slug of Geritol is necessitated prior to hitting the streets.
X. Okay, back to the Flatlands. Home base for the Prairie Messenger is the Town of Muenster, Saskatchewan. Population: 342 (located 200 kilometres north of Regina, the province's capital). Not exactly a cultural hub at first glance, however know that St. Peter's College is situated therein. It was founded in 1921 by the Benedictine monks of St. Peter's Abbey. This, of course, was when monks were monks, not the (ahem) effete breed we find in the post-V2 era. Now given the fact all of the action surrounding the Development and Peace scandal is happening back east in the highly populated Ottawa-Montreal corridor, considering PM's relatively low circulation of 6800 with a similarly minimal online readership, and taking into account the generally provincialized, bucolic focus of PM - these lead me to ponder why Novocaine Pete would publish a protest letter by four prominent members D+P. As above, the answer lies not size and numbers, but in how this exclusive group of "professional Catholics" hobnob with one another so as to maintain the antinomian party line from coast to coast.
XI. Here are some excerpts from the protest letter, published on May 25 in PM:
We, members of Development and Peace (D & P), are saddened by the crisis threatening our organization, a crisis originating in virulent attacks by Catholic groups who call themselves "real Catholics" but who appear to us to be rather sectarian... In an attempt to satisfy these extremists, D & P decided to oblige each partner to get a letter of support from the local bishop as a condition for financial support from D & P...We hope that the standing committee of bishops, recently created for relations with D & P, fulfil its mandate of consultant, but abstain from intrusion in the internal management of the organization which must keep its full autonomy and democratic functioning...The last quoted line is a giveaway in terms of exhibiting the unmitigated defiance of this so-called "Catholic" agency, of refusing answerability to the bishops, themselves divided over the affair. No mention whatsoever of the easily accessible and incontrovertible evidences showing pro-abortion facilitation by groups supported by D+P. Once again: omission and de-emphasization.
XII. Publishing the D+P letter just wasn't enough for Novocaine Pete cuz, like, he's into dissent n'stuff. One week prior on May 18 The Numb One got Joe Gunn of the Citizens for Public Justice - from way back east in Ottawa, to come to the defence of D+P. Gunny, in his "Journey to Justice" column, played the standard omission game too:
In 2009, two Canadian bishops with long missionary experience in Latin America travelled to the region with the then general secretary of the bishops' conference... Their report... exonerated the Miguel Pro Centre and other CCODP partners...What Gunny fails to mention is that one of those bishops, namely Martin Currie, confessed that the original CCCB report was co-written by D+P itself. This was reported on April 21, about one month before May 18. Gunny also diminishes the abortion issue, despite the evidence. In fact, he has a history of overlooking the pro-abortion policies of NGOs and the like. You know, those agencies that pay him to write long-winded neo-Marxist reports nobody reads and to attend those innumerable, meaningless "Sustainable Development" conferences where the booze and broads run aplenty. Last year in a "Catholic" publication he lamented government defunding of organizations such as Amnesty International, OXFAM, KAIROS and MATCH - all of them having pro-abortion stances. Shucks, that Gunny... what a schmuck.
XIII. The abovementioned, so charitably narrated by your host, is indicative of a pathetic state of affairs. The Canadian Catholic MSM and the "professional Catholic" class in general, this juggernaut of homely apostasy, has dominanted for quite some time in our fair land, from sea to shining sea. Back in the 1990s, Michael Coren, before becoming a Catholic, observed:
If Catholic literature and journalism is left to the Roman Catholic laity there are dark, Calvinist stormclouds ahead. That noble, rosary-long tradition of the Catholic intellectual and writer, once as enviable as it was inevitable, is dangerously close to termination. The dumbing of Catholicism in this country is connected, in particular, with the faith's embrace of assimilation and consequent secularism, and with a fear of being perceived as being different, alien, un-Canadian.On similar lines, the brilliant historian Preston Jones, while residing in Canada, penned the following for the New Oxford Review:
...at least in America there's some cultural debate. Put it this way: The essay you are now reading could probably not get published in Canada. Canadian cultural conservatives and orthodox Christians must look south for intellectual sustenance. Canada’s indigenous media, with a few noble and small exceptions, sing in nihilistic unison.At the time Coren and Jones, like most everyone else, were unaware of how the internet/blogging would rise up to challenge the SV2-superstars after the turn of the millennium. The playing field has changed entirely. I don't like being deterministic, though in this case an exception will be made: Resistance is futile. The Cross is Victorious. Period.
NOTES / REFERENCES
1. Associate Members include: Catholic Youth Studio - KSM Inc. (Toronto, ON), Diocesan Messenger (Victoria, BC), Diocesan News (Kamloops, BC), Journey (Kingston, ON), Newsletter of the Diocese of London (ON) and Salt + Light Catholic Media Foundation (Toronto, ON).
2. C. MacEachern, "Atlantic Catholic paper printed own obituary", Western Catholic Reporter, August 30, 2010; A. de Valk, "Catholic weeklies fold", Catholic Insight, October 2010, vol. XVIII, no. 9, p. 26; J. Huot, C. Lockett, S. Lynett and M. Monk, "Catholic New Times ends publication, vision will rise again", Catholic New Times, November 26, 2006.
3. L.A. Kennedy, "Larry Henderson: Journalist", Catholic Insight, November 2002, vol. X, no. 10, pp. 14-15.
4. Based on data from the Newspapers Canada database.
5. J. Sinasac, "Küng vs. the Vatican: Who Really Won?", Catholic Register, October 31, 2008.
6. Newspapers Canada database. See note 4.
7. G. Argan, "A feminist perception of the Spirit", Western Catholic Reporter, July 26, 2010.
8. L. Goodstein, "Bishops Urge Catholic Schools to Ban a Nun's Book", New York Times, March 30, 2011.
9. These numbers are from the Canadian Church Press. For a brief historical run-down on Catholic periodicals in Canada see L. Lindsay, "Periodical Literature (Canada)" in The Catholic Encyclopedia (New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1911).
10. See R. Baier, "Readers give strong response to WCR Survey", Western Catholic Reporter, December 27, 2010.
11. Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Toronto: Thomas Allen & Son, Limited, 1977), p. 410.
12. J.L. Allen, Jr., "Thoughts on post-tribal Catholicism", National Catholic Reporter, April 15, 2011.
13. M.C. Hoffman, "Fr. Arriaga, leader of pro-abortion D&P grant recipient, leaves office following scandal", LifeSite News, May 30, 2011.
14. Quoted in M. Swan, "Mexican cardinal's letter led to D&P funding cuts", Catholic Register, June 3, 2011.
15. CSN, "Le Conseil central du Montréal métropolitain-CSN se porte à la défense de Développement et Paix", June 2, 2011; J.M Biron, J. Webb and C.M. Otero, "Communiqué", Province du Canada français de la Compagnie de Jésus; J.C. Leclerc, "Développement et Paix en question - Nouvelle attaque de l'intégrisme religieux", Le Devoir, April 11, 2011; for Fr. Raymond Gravel's support see here.
16. C. Vaudrin, L. Plourde, G. Laverdure and N. Breault, "The Global South may lose a valuable northern ally", Prairie Messenger, May 25, 2011, vol. 89, no. 1.
17. J. Gunn, "Ecclesial politics shouldn't trump development potential", Prairie Messenger, May 18, 2011, vol. 89, no. 1.
18. Cf. J.H. Westen, "Archbishop: D&P co-wrote the CCCB report exonerating pro-abort partners, slamming LSN", LifeSite News, April 21, 2011.
19. J. Gunn, "Government silences voices of dissent, Charities, NGOs, suddenly find themselves cut off from federal funds", Western Catholic Reporter, July 19, 2010.
20. For the support/facilitation of abortion by Amnesty International: "Amnesty International Canada's consultations regarding sexual and reproductive rights - May 2007", Public Statement issued on June 14, 2007. OXFAM: S Block, "Oxfam and Sojourners gang up to save the world", Spero News, July 21, 2009. KAIROS: A. de Valk, "Catholics should stop funding KAIROS", Catholic Insight, January 2010, vol. XVIII, no. 1, p. 3. MATCH International: P. Tuns, "Ottawa defunds feminist groups", The Interim, June 9, 2010.
21. M. Coren, Setting it Right (Toronto: Stoddart Publishing Company, 1996).
22. P. Jones, "Canada: No Longer Morally Superior to the U.S.", New Oxford Review, July-August 1997, vol. LXIV, no. 6, p. 24.