EWTN acquires National Catholic Register

by Heidi Schlumpf

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Catholic media watchers will find this interesting: EWTN, the conservative religious television network, has acquired "The National Catholic Register," a similarly conservative newspaper, from the Legionaries of Christ, who had published it since 1995.

"Recent trends in the publishing world, coupled with fallout within the Legion after disclosures that their founder Fr. Marcel Maciel led a double life, made it impossible for the order to continue publishing the paper," said a statement from EWTN announcing the acquisition.

The "double life" refers to the late Maciel's sexual abuse of seminarians and fathering of out-of-wedlock children, including two sons who claim they are incest victims.

Under the terms of the agreement, no cash will be exchanged. EWTN will take over the ongoing operational expenses of the "Register" and will assume its future subscription liabilities effective on Feb. 1.

It's hard enough for a print publication to survive in today's media market--even without the added albatross of a sex abuse scandal. This transaction seems designed to remove that burden from the "Register."

The newspaper, which was founded in 1905 in Colorado, will continue to provide "faithful Catholic reporting on the issues of the day," said EWTN president Michael Warsaw.

"Over time, we intend to continue the Register's digital transition plans, and to integrate it more fully with EWTN's global presence on the Internet," he added.

Ironically, newbies to the world of Catholic journalism, including some secular media, often confuse the "National Catholic Register" and the "National Catholic Reporter." They couldn't be more different.

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