New hope for the Catholic press: Circulating the joy of the Gospel Print
Written by Mary C. Uhler   
Thursday, Feb. 06, 2014 -- 12:00 AM


Most people think of February as the month of Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, Valentine’s Day, and President’s Day. Sometimes Lent begins in February, although this year it starts later with Ash Wednesday on March 5.

However, those of us involved in Catholic newspapers observe February as Catholic Press Month. It’s an opportunity for Catholic publications to call attention to the mission of the Catholic press, to reflect on what we’re doing, and encourage our subscribers to read our publications — which by the way, are now available in many ways: print, online, Facebook, Twitter, and other venues.

New hope for the Catholic press

With the election of Pope Francis last year, I think there has been a renewed interest in the Catholic press. Pope Francis himself has used Catholic publications to communicate with people throughout the world.

In an article about Catholic Press Month written for Catholic News Service, Francis Rocca points out that 2014 should be an occasion for new hope for the Catholic press. “The last year has witnessed developments within the Church that offer Catholic journalism major opportunities for greater influence, among the faithful and the public at large,” he says.

Rocca rightly points out that Pope Francis has used his popularity to draw attention to a range of concerns, especially the plight of the poor. He adds, “But, with his ambitious agenda of Vatican reform, his denunciations of ‘spiritual worldliness’ among the clergy, and his frank critiques of Church personnel and institutions he deems insufficiently merciful or pastoral, the pope has kept the secular press unusually focused on the internal life of the Church at every level.”

Special contributions of Catholic press

Rocca says that here is where the Catholic press can make a special contribution in at least two ways.

First, he says, “for the benefit of its Catholic readers and viewers, it can provide an explicit corrective to oversimplifications, misunderstandings, and outright distortions in secular coverage of the Church.”

How many times has Pope Francis been quoted out of context? Our staff has noticed this so often, and we try to provide articles which tell the whole story.

Secondly, Rocca provides another important -- albeit smaller -- role for the Catholic press: helping secular journalists, “because secular journalists, logically enough, turn to Catholic media for information and guidance when they write about the Church. The better their sources, the better their reporting ultimately will be,” asserts Rocca.

I have found that newspapers -- as well as radio and television stations -- in the Diocese of Madison do quote the Catholic Herald. We are their source for complete and accurate news pertaining to the Church on a diocesan, national, and international levels.

Circulating the joy of the Gospel

As our theme for Catholic Press Month, our staff decided to focus on Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel). You will find this theme in promotional ads in our paper each week.

We want to circulate the joy of the Gospel through the Catholic Herald by sharing the messages of our Holy Father, Bishop Robert C. Morlino, and our many other writers. We want to show how the priests, Sisters, and lay people in our diocese are sharing the joy of the Gospel by telling their stories. And we want to invite people to get more involved in our parishes, Catholic schools, and charitable organizations to spread the joy of the Gospel in our diocese and throughout the world.

We invite you -- our subscribers -- to join us in reading the Catholic Herald cover to cover each week. Also consider passing it along to a family member, neighbor, or friend. Let’s circulate the joy of the Gospel for all to see!