Following is the text of a statement issued by Bishop Charles H. Helmsing of Kansas City - St. Joseph (Mo) Diocese. The statement pertains to the National Catholic Reporter, which is published in the diocese and is an outgrowth of its diocesan newspaper:
The Catholic Reporter, formerly the official newspaper of the Kansas City - St. Joseph, was begun by my predecessor under a policy of editorial freedom. That policy of editorial freedom [I] endorsed on my appointment as bishop of Kansas City - St. Joseph. When the National Catholic Reporter was launched, that original policy of editorial freedom was announced as basic to the new publication.
At all times it was presumed that the policy of editorial freedom was none other than that legitimate liberty declared and defended by the Second Vatican Council in its Declaration on Religious Liberty, further defined in the conciliar Decree on Communications, and, likewise, defended in the Constitution on the Church in the Modern World. It could not imply that pseudo-freedom from man's obligations to his Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier in vogue under the standard of the 19th century liberalism. It could not imply, as a conciliar declaration on religious liberty clearly states, freedom in the moral order. As Cardinal Koenig pointed out in his recent address to editors, there is a legitimate freedom of opinion to be exercised by the Catholic press so long as it is absolutely loyal to the Church's teachings. If an editor is to merit the name "Catholic," he must remember "to think with the Church."
As long as the Catholic editor carries the name Catholic, he can never forget that he is a teacher of Christ's revelation. What he writes necessarily touches on faith -- that gift of the Holy Spirit which "we carry in earthen vessels" and by which we accept Christ, the Word of God Incarnate, and His revelation.
The Catholic editor must manifest a reverence which must shine through in his attitude and in his every expression. The Gospel is clear on the destructive effects of ridicule, for example, in recounting of the taunts hurled at Simon Peter: "You also were with Jesus of Nazareth," and their effects on him who, once converted, was to confirm his brethren.
As the editors of the National Catholic Reporter know, I have tried as their pastor, responsible for their eternal welfare, and that of those whom they influence, to guide them on a responsible course in harmony with Catholic teachings. When private conferences were of no avail, as is well known, I had to issue a public reprimand for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings on the transmission of human life, and against the Gospel values of sacred virginity and dedicated celibacy as taught by the Church.
NOW, AS a last resort, I am forced as bishop to issue a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter for its disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith. Within recent months the National Catholic Reporter has expressed itself in belittling the basic truths expressed in the Creed of Pope Paul VI; it has made itself a platformfor the airing of heretical views on the Church and its divinely constituted structure, as taught by the First and Second Vatican Councils. Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors.
In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brother bishops, and make known to the priests, religious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication.
As a bishop, a member of the college of bishops, and one in union with the head of the college, Christ's Vicar on earth, I proclaim with my brother bishops that the Church is, indeed, always in need of reform. This reform is a matter of putting on the mind of Christ, as St. Paul declared, through our contemplation of Christ in His teachings and through our loyalty to the teachings of the Church so painstakingly expressed in recent years in the constitutions, decrees and declarations of the Second Vatican Council.
The status of the world when our Lord came was a deplorable one. We are not surprised that the status of man, wounded by original sin, remains deplorable as long as he does not heed the voice of Christ and his authoritative teacher, his Church. Sociological studies, according to modern techniques, can help us appreciate the status quo -- the exact thinking and acting and attitudes of our people. For this we are grateful. But it is a total reversal of our Divine Lord's policy to imagine for a moment that the disclosure of attitudes through such surveys becomes the norm of human conduct or thinking.
Christ and His apostles preached first and foremost penance, metanoia, the change of mind and heart. The Church continues to do so today, but it finds itself increasingly more frustrated in its teaching of the ideals of our Lord by the type of reporting, editorializing and ridicule that have become the week-after-week fare of the National Catholic Reporter.
IN AS MUCH as the National Catholic Reporter does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching. I ask the editors in all honesty to drop the term "Catholic" from their masthead. By retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings.
I further ask the editors and the board of directors, for the love of God and their fellow men, to change their misguided and evil policy; for it is evident to me that they havealready caused untold harm to the faith and morals not only of our laity, but of too many of our priests and religious.
I make this statement with apostolic freedom as given by our Lord to His followers; I make it conscious of the heavy burden that is mine as a bishop, as one enjoined by the Holy Spirit through the pen of St. Paul: "Reprove, entreat, rebuke in all patience and doctrine; for there will come a time when they will not endure the sound doctrines; but having itching ears, will heap up to themselves teachers according to their own lust, and they will turn away their hearing from the truth and will turn aside rather to fables." (2 Tim. 4:2-4)
Bishop Charles H. Helmsing Hierarchy info here
Kansas City bishop condemns N.C.R., asks change of name
National Catholic Reporter | October 16, 1968 | Volume 4 Number 50
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Bishop Charles H. Helmsing of Kansas City-St. Joseph has issued an "official condemnation" of the National Catholic Reporter.
The bishop accused the paper of denying "the most sacred values of our Catholic faith" and of making itself "a platform for the airing of heretical views on thechurch."
After citing material published in recent months, the bishop said: "It is difficult to see how well-instructed writers who deliberately deny and ridicule dogmas of our Catholic faith can possibly escape the guilt of the crime defined in Canon 1325 on heresy, and how they can escape the penalties of automatic excommunication entailed thereby."
The statement continued:
"In fairness to our Catholic people, I hereby issue an official condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter. Furthermore, I send this communication to my brother bishops, and make known to the priests, religious and laity of the nation my views on the poisonous character of this publication."
Later in the statement the bishop said the paper does not reflect the teaching of the church but openly opposes it. Therefore, he said, "I ask the editors in all honesty to drop the term 'Catholic' from their masthead. By retaining it they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by being responsible for the false irenicism of watering down Catholic teachings."
John J. Fallon, president of the board of directors of the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co., said there would be no immediate response, pending a forthcoming meeting of the board.
The statement was distributed to press, radio and television media for release Friday. The N.C.R. obtained its copy from a reporter for the Kansas City Star.
Material from the paper cited by the bishop as the basis for his stand included an editorial (N.C.R., July 10) on the "Creed of the People of God" proclaimed by Pope Paul at the close of the Year of Faith, a column by Rosemary Ruether on the perpetual virginity of Mary (N.C.R., Sept. 18) and an essay by Daniel Callahan on the papacy (N.C.R., Oct. 9). The bishop said the editorial was guilty of "belittling" the Creed. On the other articles he said: "Vehemently to be reprobated was the airing in recent editions of an attack on the perpetual virginity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the virgin birth of Christ, by one of its contributors. Finally, it has given lengthy space to a blasphemous and heretical attack on the Vicar of Christ."
The bishop recalled also his earlier reprimand to the Reporter (N.C.R., Jan. 18, 1967) for its policies on birth control and celibacy.
The bishop said the policy of editorial freedom under which the paper was launched should be understood in terms of Vatican II declarations on the subject. "There is a legitimate freedom of opinion to be exercised by the Catholic press," he said, "so long as it is absolutely loyal to the church's teachings. If an editor is to merit the name 'Catholic,' he must remember 'to think with the church.'
"As long as the Catholic editor carries the name Catholic, he can never forget that he is a teacher of Christ's revelation. What he writes necessarily touches on faith -- that gift of the Holy Spirit which 'we carry in earthen vessels' and by which we accept Christ, the word of God incarnate, and his revelation."
In an apparent reference to a news story (N.C.R., Oct. 9) reporting a survey of priests' opinions on contraception, the bishop said sociological studies can provide information on the attitudes held by people. "But it is a total reversal of our divine Lord's policy," he added, "to imagine for a moment that the disclosure of attitudes through such surveys becomes the norm of human conduct or thinking."
He said also that the church's effort to preach the ideals of Christ and the spirit of penance is increasingly frustrated by "the type of reporting, editorializing and ridicule that have become the week-after-week fare of the National Catholic Reporter.
The National Catholic Reporter was established in 1964 with the blessing of Bishop Helmsing as an offshoot of the diocesan newspaper but under control of its own board of directors. Besides Fallon, who is a Kansas City attorney and president of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce, the other directors are:
Dan Herr, vice president, president of the Thomas More association, Chicago;
Robert E. Burns, secretary, executive editor, U.S. Catholic, Chicago;
Frank E. Brennan, treasurer, insurance executive and member of the city council of Kansas City, Mo.;
Joseph E. Cunneen, editor with Holt, Rinehart and Winston and managing editor of Cross Currents, New York; the
Rev. Joseph H. Fichter, S.J., sociologist and author, Cambridge, Mass.; the
Rev. Martin E. Marty, Lutheran theologian, associate editor of the Christian Century and a member of the faculty at the University of Chicago;
Donald J. Thorman, publisher, and
Robert G. Hoyt, editor.
Canon 1325, cited by Bishop Helmsing in his statement, reads as follows:
"The faithful are bound to profess their faith publicly whenever silence, subterfuge or their manner of acting would otherwise entail an implicit denial of their faith, a contempt of religion, an insult to God or scandal to their neighbor.
"Any baptized person who while retaining the name of Christian obstinately denies or doubts any of the truths proposed for belief by the divine and Catholic faith is a heretic; if he abandons the Christian faith entirely he is called an apostate; if finally he refuses to be subject to the supreme pontiff or to have communication with the members of the church subject to the pope he is a schismatic.
"Catholics shall not enter into any disputes or conference with non-Catholics -- especially public ones -- without the permission of the Holy See or in urgent cases of the local ordinary."