Letter from the Editor

  • September 15, 2022

To all subscribers and even occasional readers of The Catholic Register: This is a call from us to hear from you.

We want your letters to the editor. We need your letters to the editor. Your letters are a vital part of what The Register offers as a Catholic newspaper to Catholic readers each week.

There is a long history of readership surveys showing letters to the editor are among the best read section of any traditional newspaper. The ubiquity of comment sections and, indeed, the entire phenomenon of social media itself proves the importance of people having their say and communicating their thoughts with those who share their interests.

The Catholic Register aims, however much we might miss the mark in given issue, to give voice to the full spectrum of Catholic voices in the Archdiocese of Toronto, and across Canada. That can, and should, mean you as the spirit moves you.

There are, of course, limitations. We can’t — and won’t — publish letters that are blasphemous, libellous or ad hominem. Deal with the issue. Don’t attack the person. We’re interested in being a forum for the exchange of ideas, critique, objection, commendation and old-fashioned, common sense observation. Humour is good if you can manage it.

You don’t need to be a Nobel Laureate in literature or a furrow-browed theologian to be published in our letters section. One of the Editor’s chief jobs is to, well, edit. It’s to help those who lack confidence in their ability to write clearly — including certain furrow-browed theologians — publish prose that is accessible and engaging for Catholic Register readers. Write a letter to the editor. The Editor will do all possible to make it read well for publication.

Here are some pointers to help that process along:

If at all possible, please send your letters electronically. It’s the most efficient way to get our attention and ensure your letter is published in the next available issue.

If you prefer old school Canada Post mail, please type your letters and make them suitable for scanning. We simply don’t have the resources or the paleographic expertise to transcribe hand-written letters.

Keep your letters brief. As a wise writer once said, it takes longer to make things short, but it also boosts your chances of the entire letter being published without the Editor brutally excising excess words you were sure were essential. Ask yourself whether what you want to say really requires more than 250 words to be said.

Topics are open within the limitations mentioned above, but chances of publication rise exponentially for letters that reference content that has appeared recently in The Register. That’s not vanity on our part. It’s based on the need for a common understanding of the issues being commented upon. If it has appeared in The Register, there’s at least a reference point readers can look to. As much as possible, make those references clear by citing a specific article with the date of publication.

Have we mentioned keep your letters brief?

Exchanges about letters written by previous letter writers are encouraged, but also limited to two (okay 2.5) rounds of back and forth. Anything more becomes too self-referential and obscure for other readers.

Write as if you are speaking to fellow parishioners over coffee after Mass, i.e., with the recognition that some non-Catholics (and even some Catholics) might be in the room who are not entirely up to speed on the latest in the debate over the finer points of the sixth and seventh century filioque clause. (See obscurity above.)

Write prepared to be edited. It is a letter to the editor after all. Editors edit. They’re built that way.

We hope that’s helpful. We pray we’ll hear from you. In these times, Catholics need to talk, or least communicate. Letters to the editor can be a great place to start.

Peter Stockland

The Catholic Register

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