Funding cuts threaten Montreal Catholic newspaper's future

  • May 10, 2010
Catholic TimesMontreal’s only English-language Catholic newspaper will cease monthly publication immediately and may close entirely next year due to funding cuts.

Catholic Times Editor Eric Durocher told The Catholic Register it’s been an “extremely difficult year” managing the paper after being hit with a $30,000 cut in funding from Pillars Trust Fund, which provides about half of the newspaper’s operating capital.

Losing the Times would lead to a “huge gap for English-speaking Catholics,” Durocher said, adding it would create a void for the rest of Canada without a Montreal-based Catholic newspaper.

“Newspapers report history in our times,” he said. “We lose the historical record” of Montreal’s Catholic community.

After a March 16 meeting with Pillars Trust Fund, the Catholic Times decided to cease publishing on a monthly basis at the end of April. Without secure, stable funding for the next four years, the newspaper will only publish three issues in 2010-2011 and then cease publication.

The newspaper had asked Pillars for a $16,000 increase in funding and a commitment to a stable level of funding after 2010-2011. But the Pillars’ board, which had cut its grant to the Times by $30,000 last year, rejected the requests.

The Pillars’ grant of $80,000 leaves the Times about 10 per cent short of covering its total operating costs of  $155,000. The paper also receives revenue from advertising, subscriptions and fundraising. It has almost 10,000 subscribers.

Pillars Trust Fund was established in 1972 to help maintain and support charitable, apostolic and religious education activities for Montreal’s English-speaking Catholic community. It has been the major financial supporter of the newspaper since 1977.

In a statement published in the Times, Pillars said it had several projects with “competing needs for limited and shrinking financial resources.”

“Catholic Times plays a key role in communicating news and views and inspirational stories” that support Pillars’ activities in the formation of priests, supporting Catholic youth and addressing the spiritual needs of adults and seniors, according to Michael E. Kieran, president of Pillars’ board of directors.

But, “there is a limit to what we can afford to spend maintaining a foundation without compromising the structure that it is intended to support.”

Durocher said the Times is making its readers and the community aware of the situation.

“As a community publication, we’re going to the community and see how they will respond,” he said.

Last year, the paper saved the 2009-2010 publishing year through its honorary-subscriber campaign which raised $19,800.

The newspaper is owned by Catholic Times (Montreal) Inc., a federally incorporated non-profit organization which is a lay-run corporation. It is run by four part-time staff.

The Catholic Times was founded in 1976 at the request of Bishop Leonard Crowley. In 1988, the Catholic Times was instrumental in setting up a Catholic news co-operative in Canada, Canadian Catholic News, and has won numerous Canadian Church Press awards.

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