Like the other members of the Catholic press, I was very surprised to see the press release on May 4, 2022 announcing the planned closure of Catholic News Service's U.S. bureaus. Although I just began serving as a consultor to the USCCB Communications Committee, I was unaware the bishops were even considering this move. In fact, I called CNS chief Greg Erlandson in December to explore ways to make CNS more affordable for all of FAITH’s clients, so that we could increase Catholic News Service subscribers.
FAITH Catholic has long valued CNS and its excellent journalism. Approximately 20 of FAITH’s publishing partners, including our home diocese of Lansing, Michigan, are CNS subscribers. The closing of CNS is a great loss.
FAITH Catholic is a nonprofit entity of the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan. Our company exists to serve the Church. We believe in and promote the use of diocesan publications for evangelization, as do the dioceses and organizations who are our partners. With Catholic engagement in record decline (CARA’s 2021 data shows weekly Mass attendance at 17%), we have concluded that the principal purpose of Catholic communications in this critical era should be to help people encounter Jesus Christ and engage or re-engage with his Church. We encourage this primarily through the use of individual personal witness stories; columns that catechize and form disciples, and content that informs daily living with Gospel values.
We also believe that a Catholic perspective on major news is critical, which is why we regularly provide special reports on current events, and why I am committed to ensuring our clients have resources to explain the Church’s teaching on the state of the country and the world. We are grateful to the USCCB for its continuing commitment to the CNS Rome bureau, and for their plan to allow all diocesan publications to access news and photos from the Vatican free of charge.
I am looking forward to the scheduled roundtable discussion of this issue at the upcoming Catholic Media Conference in July 2022. I hope that we and other members of the Catholic Media Association can work together to come up with a solution to provide reliable news for Catholic publications, possibly through a portal to share our local news content.