Father Knows Best: The St. Louis Review Rejects Ad for Vatican Correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter, While Accepting Ads of Dismissed Priest Charged with Abuse

By Corrigan, Don | St. Louis Journalism Review, May 2002 | Go to article overview

Father Knows Best: The St. Louis Review Rejects Ad for Vatican Correspondent of the National Catholic Reporter, While Accepting Ads of Dismissed Priest Charged with Abuse


Corrigan, Don, St. Louis Journalism Review


When Margaret Mary Moore tried to get an advertisement about a lecture at St. Louis University in the St. Louis Archdiocese weekly, she was told there was no room at the inn.

Moore, director of the Theology and Life Institute in University City, helped bring two nationally esteemed journalists to St. Louis University's St. Francis Xavier Church on April 18. Moore tried to advertise the event in The St. Louis Review, the official weekly of the Archdiocese, and was told it was inappropriate for the paper.

"They accepted the ad at first," said Moore. "The Review ad sales representative, Jeff Aldrich, said it would cost $195. Then he called back and said the ad was run past the paper's editor and it was rejected.

"Aldrich said the editor told him that 'these two guys are antagonists of the church. We don't need to give them any publicity.' I was amazed to hear this," said Moore. "I was just absolutely amazed."

The Rev. Robert Finn, editor of The Review and a priest-in-residence at Holy Redeemer Church in Webster Groves, said it was his decision to kill the advertisement.

"It's my decision," said Finn. "I think we just preferred not to give advertisements to The National Catholic Reporter. It's such a far cry from our own approach to church teaching and interpretation that it doesn't seem consistent with our policy for us to do that."

The two journalists, who spoke at the April 18 lecture event, are Robert Blair Kaiser of Newsweek and John L. Allen Jr., Vatican correspondent to The National Catholic Reporter. Both journalists offered their insights on the future of the Roman Catholic Church and the next papal election process.

Kaiser currently reports on the Vatican for Newsweek. He covered the Vatican during the historical church meetings of Vatican II. He wrote the best-selling memoir about the changes called, "Pope, Council and World." He is at work on another volume covering the future of the church.

Allen is a long-time Vatican correspondent who wrote a popular biography of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. His new book, "Conclave: The Politics, Personalities and Process of the Next Papal Election," will be published by Doubleday in May.

Outright censorship

Moore said the two journalists are church men themselves, not "cynical journalists or skeptics off the street." Moore said their expertise ensured astute and respectful commentaries on the state of the church today.

"I'm a theologian and I don't think these two respected men are antagonists of the church at all," said Moore. "I think what we are talking about here with The Review is outright censorship. I was stunned that these two reputable, balanced, award-winning authors are judged to be inappropriate for Catholic readers.

"The lecture was not meant to be antagonistic to the church," added Moore. "It was focused on the church's future. It wasn't about the current crisis with pedophilia by priests, or anything to do with scandal."

Editor Finn said he stands by his decision to nix any advertising about the lecture event in The Review.

"Perhaps the lecture was very, very good," said Finn. "But we have a policy of rejecting anything that we think would not be helpful to our readers. So, it would be in my purview to make a decision like that on the lecture.

"We certainly have the right to determine what goes in our paper," added Finn. "We don't publish ads for political candidates. We don't run ads for X-rated movies. We don't run ads for nightclubs on the East Side- they're not interested in us anyway because we don't have the audience they want, so we're glad that we don't have to tell them we don't want their ads."

Moore said she was offended that an ad to promote dialogue within the Catholic community was talked about in the same breath as an ad for an X-rated movie. …

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