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National Catholic Reporter

Not to be confused with the National Catholic Register

National Catholic Reporter
Type Bi-weekly
Format Non-profit newspaper
Owner(s) The National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company
Founder(s) Robert Hoyt
Publisher Thomas C. Fox
Editor Dennis Coday
Founded 1964
Language English
Headquarters Kansas City, Missouri
Circulation 35,000 (as of 2013) [1]
ISSN 0027-8939

The National Catholic Reporter (NCR) is a newspaper in the United States, which covers topics on the Catholic Church. Based in midtown Kansas City, Missouri, NCR was founded by Robert Hoyt in 1964 as an independent newspaper focusing on the Catholic Church. Hoyt wanted to bring the professional standards of secular news reporting to the Catholic press, maintaining that "if the mayor of a city owned its only newspaper, its citizens will not learn what they need and deserve to know about its affairs".[2] It has won the "General Excellence" award from the Catholic Press Association in the category of national news publications 13 times between 2000 and 2014.[citation needed]

The publication is not connected to the Church itself and is independent. Promoting a progressive position, the NCR presents itself "as one of the few, if not the only truly independent, journalistic outlet for Catholics and others who struggle with the complex moral and societal issues of the day."[3] However, the publication has been accused of ideological bias, favoring voices of dissent within the Catholic Church both in its expression of opinion and in its choice of news to report and of tending to criticize statements by the Holy See and Catholic bishops.[4]


The National Catholic Reporter strives to be an independent Catholic news site, and as such evaluates social issues shaping society in addition to specifically Catholic issues. TV journalist Bill Moyers said, "For decades now the National Catholic Reporter has been courageously committed to independent journalism whose only aim is real news—the news we need to keep our freedom. In a time when a handful of megamedia conglomerates control more and more of what we read, see and hear, NCR remains faithful to journalism as a moral calling, obliged to get as close a possible to the verifiable truth."[5]

Some of the issues NCR examines on a regular basis are part of the social justice wing of the church, including poverty, peace issues, the roles of women, environmental stewardship and immigration. NCR tries to be accurate but fair and impartial.[6]

The organization reported $4.3 million in annual revenue in 2013.[7]


The paper is published bi-weekly, with each issue including national and world news sections, as well as an opinion and arts section. Each paper runs an average of 32 pages, which includes special sections, a section published in each issue devoted to a particular topic. Regular annual special sections include: Theology; Pro-Life; Volunteers; Deacons; Religious Life (I and II); Colleges and Universities; Summer Listings (I and II); Catholic Education; Ecology; Summer Books (I and II); Family Life; Ministries (I and II); Women Today; Spirituality (I and II); Social Justice; Fall and Winter Listings; Health & Well Being; Fall Books.

Each issue includes news stories, analysis, commentary, opinion and editorials. The Opinion and Arts section contains book and film reviews, as well as spiritual reflections, along with letters to the editor, classifieds and editorials.

Bishops' criticisms

In 1968, NCR's ordinary, Bishop Charles Herman Helmsing issued a statement condemning NCR "for their policy of crusading against the Church's teachings," its "poisonous character" and "disregard and denial of the most sacred values of our Catholic faith."[8] Helmsing warned that NCR's writers were likely guilty of heresy and subject to the automatic excommunication that incurs. Because the publication "does not reflect the teaching of the Church, but on the contrary, has openly and deliberately opposed this teaching," he asked the editors to "drop the term 'Catholic' from their masthead" because "they deceive their Catholic readers and do a great disservice to ecumenism by ... watering down Catholic teachings."[8][9]

NCR did not comply with his request, and 66 Catholic journalists signed a statement disagreeing with the condemnation based on its "underlying definition of the legitimate boundaries of religious journalism in service to the church." The Catholic Press Association reported that the dispute arose from a difference of opinion regarding the function of the press.[10]

In 2013, Bishop Robert Finn wrote a column in his diocesan newspaper recalling Helmsing's condemnation of NCR and wrote that the paper refused to "submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law," and considered itself an "independent newspaper which commented on 'things Catholic.'"[11]

NCR publisher Thomas C. Fox denied the implication that there was a decadeslong animosity between the diocese and the newspaper, especially noting: "Bishop John Sullivan and Bishop Raymond Boland -- had cordial relations with NCR." He pointed out that NCR is a member of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada whose honorary president is Bishop John Wester, who also serves as the U.S. Catholic bishops' conference as its chairman of the Committee of Communications. Fox closed by noting an NCR editorial in November 2012 had called on Finn to resign or be removed from his position after Finn was found guilty "of failing to report suspected child abuse involving a local priest."[12]


  1. ^ "Editorial: The Catholic press and new media (February 22, 2013)". 
  2. ^ Steinfels, Peter (April 12, 2003). "Robert G. Hoyt, 81, Founder Of National Catholic Reporter". New York Times. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  3. ^ "About Us | National Catholic Reporter". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  4. ^ Michael L. Coulter, Richard S. Myers, Joseph A. Varacalli (editors), Encyclopedia of Catholic Social Thought, Social Science, and Social Policy (Scarecrow Press 2012 ISBN 978-0-81088275-1), pp. 230-231
  5. ^ "Mission and Values | National Catholic Reporter". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  6. ^ "Editorial Guidelines | National Catholic Reporter". Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  7. ^ "National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company". Retrieved Sep 13, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b "Bishop Helmsing charges Heresy". National Catholic Reporter. October 16, 1968. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  9. ^ O'Neill, William L. (2004). Coming Apart: an Informal History of America in the 1960's. Ivan R. Dee (via p. 310. ISBN 978-1566636131. Retrieved December 20, 2012.  ('Look Inside' for 'heresy')
  10. ^ Roberts, Tom (April 25, 2003). "Robert Hoyt, NCR founder, dies at 81". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved December 20, 2012. 
  11. ^ Finn, Robert W. "The Bishop's Role in Fostering the Mission of the Catholic Media". The Catholic Key. 
  12. ^ Thomas C. Fox (January 27, 2013). "Kansas City bishop says NCR undermines the faith". National Catholic Reporter. Retrieved February 9, 2014. 

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