Schoolchildren read The Catholic Register in undated photo. Register file photo

Editorial: Our 125-year-old promise

  • December 31, 2017
On Jan. 5, 1893, founding editor Fr. John Teefy introduced the debut issue of The Catholic Register to Canada’s growing Catholic community with these words: “We are a Catholic journal — Catholic first, last and always.

This shapes our life and orders all our thought. From this standpoint we survey events, upon this ground we discuss questions, and to this fact we owe our being, our usefulness and our importance.”

The world has changed profoundly since then, but as true today as it was 125 years ago is The Register’s steadfast allegiance to those founding principles. Fr. Teefy’s words have guided this newspaper relentlessly through more than 12-plus decades of the most life-altering technological and social change in the history of mankind. And his words still define us today as The Register, Canada’s oldest and most-read Catholic publication, celebrates its 125th anniversary.

In 1893, when Canada was barely a quarter century old and before Saskatchewan and Alberta had even joined Confederation, Toronto Archbishop John Walsh saw an urgent need for a Catholic newspaper in mainly Protestant English Canada. Writing in the first issue, he declared the newspaper’s mission was to promote Catholic interests, vindicate the religious, educational and civil rights of Catholics, and to defend the Church against “the falsehoods and calumnies of which she is to frequently the object.” He probably would be dismayed to see The Register is still required to advocate for the Church on not only these issues, but many other social and moral matters that Walsh never could have foreseen. We take that duty seriously.

Pope Francis recently echoed Walsh when he praised the value and effectiveness of Catholic media and made a case for its continued existence and vitality. A world that is faith deficient is often sullied by news that is sensationalized, distorted or even manufactured. Catholic newspapers, said the Pope, should adamantly reject those trends and provide reporting that is faithful, precise, thoughtful and charitable, always avoiding the temptation to stir up “media dust storms.” Amen to that.

Couples often renew wedding vows on a special anniversary. The Catholic Register proposes to do likewise as we mark 125 years of service.

So to our readers we pledge the following: to do our best to provide quality journalism that is faithful to the Magisterium, respectful of Church leaders, loud in defence of Catholic rights, committed to the principles of truth, accuracy and fairness, unwavering in defence of the vulnerable, inclined to be charitable but ready when provoked to be tenaciously combative.

Above all, as when the first Catholic Register rolled off the press in 1893, we will be a Catholic journal — Catholic first, last and always. 

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