|This interview was originally published in the winter 2008-2009 edition of LeCristo Magazine.|
January 5, 2009. North Haven, CT. LeCristo Magazine recently
ran a feature article on the National Catholic Register,
which has been owned and published by the Legion
of Christ since 1995. The following interview with publisher and
editor-in-chief Fr Owen Kearns, LC, gives a glimpse of what
this Catholic newspaper is contributing to Catholic media and what
it aims to achieve in the future.
Father Owen Kearns,
LC, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of the NATIONAL
REGISTER weekly newspaper. Ordained in 1983, Father Owen is
encouraged by the vitality
of so many American Catholics and
their desire for news to help them become better and
more informed Catholics so they can engage the secular culture
more confidently. We spoke with Father Owen at his office
in North Haven, Connecticut.
Last year the National Catholic Register celebrated
its 80-year anniversary. Tell us about its history.
Msgr. Matthew Smith founded the Register in Denver as a
very “newsy” paper. In 1970 Patrick Frawley brought it to
Los Angeles where it became an in-depth review on culture,
politics and the Church. In 1995 the Legionaries of Christ
brought it to Connecticut. We restored its “newsy” quality without
abandoning the in-depth analysis. I became the full-time editor-in-chief in
Is the design important to convey your message?
we launched our redesign, based on a combination of the
classic and the classy. The classic element reflects its prestigious
history, and conveys a sense of seriousness and depth; doing
that in a classy way prevents it from being dull.
The classy element expresses the vitality, joy and exuberance of
the faith; doing that in a classic way prevents it
from being gaudy or cheap.
|The Register was redesigned in 2007 for a new look that is both classic and classy.|
What does the Register logo convey?
At the center of the National Catholic Register flag (logo)
are three symbols: the papal tiara, the keys of St.
Peter and the rays of light. This particular papal tiara
is the one Paul VI gifted to the National Shrine
of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., so it represents
between the Vatican and the Catholic Church in
The keys of St. Peter represent our fidelity to
the Holy See and our communion with the teaching of
the Pope and the bishops in communion with him.
of light reflect the splendor and vitality of the faith
— many readers comment that what the Register brings is
hope and the affirmation of their Catholic identity.
Does the Register
have a distinctive approach to reporting the news?
journalistic standards. That’s not a given anymore. We double-check our
facts, and we always speak to the opposing side and
then give the Church’s response.
We also have our own style
of journalism. The paper opens its stories differently. Typical journalists
open with a summary, answering who, what, where, when, why
and how questions. Our opening paragraphs answer the question “Why
|The Register has pioneered a style of covering secular news by quoting Church documents that bring wisdom to bear on contemporary issues.|
is this important for you to read?” The paper ends
its stories differently. Most journalistic stories peter out at the
end, often with related trivia. That’s like punishing the reader
for reading to the end. The Register ends stories with
flair often with a great quote that goes to the
heart of the matter. The paper treats its stories differently.
It has pioneered a style of covering secular news by
quoting Church documents that bring wisdom to bear on contemporary
Does the Register cover just Church events?
have had quite a few scoops over the years. We
interviewed two archbishops in Baghdad hours after the 2003 invasion
of Iraq began, before the phones went dead. We had
the last interview with Father Timothy Vakoc before he was
silenced by roadside bombs in Iraq. He was a chaplain
there, distributing the Register’s Guide to the Rosary. We had
a reporter, James Brandon, kidnapped in Iraq while on assignment
for us and others. We broke a major story about
Vatican intentions regarding seminaries. Our coverage of bio-technological developments has
been followed by The New York Times.
What are your goals
for the future of the Register?
We would like to
|Fr Owen Kearns, LC and Tom Hoopes, Executive Editor, review a current issue of the Register in the office’s North Haven library.|
reach everyone who should be a Register reader. More specifically,
we would like to establish relationships with all Catholic organizations
that promote the New Evangelization originally called for by Pope
John Paul II.
We are also developing more Internet content. We
recently established a daily blog at NCRegister.com that posts a
minimum of five stories a day. This is free to
anyone. Subscribers can read the Register from their computer and
search articles from 2000 to the present.
How can readers of
LeCristo help to promote your work?
They could subscribe,
for starters! Gift subscriptions make great Christmas presents that people
will enjoy all year round. We also offer four free
trial issues at NCRegister.com or 800-421-3230.
If they meet someone who would like to try
the Register, tell them “I’ll get you started.” Send us
their name and address (Don’t leave it up to them
to do that) and we’ll take it from there.
wants to raise money for their parish or organization, they
can call for details about how to offer subscriptions to
the Register as a unique fundraiser.