In this issue of the WCR, you can read Archbishop Smith’s pastoral plan for the Edmonton Archdiocese. It focuses on evangelization, lay formation and vocations promotion.
The WCR is, first of all, a newspaper. We report the news affecting the Catholic community in our diocese, across Canada and around the world. In reporting the news, we try to make judgments that are fair and consistent, that meet our readers’ interests. We try not to grind axes, promote pet causes or exclude coverage of legitimate aspects of Catholic life.
Our readers deserve a newspaper they can trust for its fairness, accuracy and balance.
However, the WCR is much more than a mirror of the Catholic community. The WCR is a vehicle of evangelization, lay formation and even vocations promotion.
The WCR reaches thousands of people who, due to circumstance or decision, do not attend Church every week. For many people, the WCR is the one weekly link with Catholic life.
Here, we do have an agenda. We strive to be a source of Catholic opinion and Catholic teaching. We know that the opportunities most of our readers have to know what the Catholic Church is saying on a myriad of topics are extremely limited.
The secular media rarely give a balanced or full presentation of Catholic teaching. Most people will be hard pressed to learn the Catholic stance on today’s issues unless they turn to the Catholic press.
The WCR takes its ministry of evangelization and catechesis seriously. In almost every issue, you will find page after page of articles that attempt to present Catholic teaching and Catholic perspectives.
At the heart of that is our rock solid belief that every Catholic has a vocation, a unique role to play in building up the Body of Christ. Relatively few Catholics perform liturgical or other ministries in their parishes or the larger Church. Fewer still are called to be priests, brothers or religious sisters.
But everyone has a vocation. All Catholics are called to be Christ in their family, their workplace and their places of recreation. Through our efforts at catechesis and evangelization, we hope to enable and encourage our readers to fulfill these priestly and prophetic roles.
Over the last 15 months, the WCR board of directors has been engaged in revisioning the Western Catholic Reporter. Is the WCR doing its job as well as it can? Where can there be improvements? Can it be better structured for the future?
Our readers made an overwhelming and decisive contribution to that process through a readership survey last November. The results of the survey were published in the newspaper in early 2011.
The revisioning process continues and the board will make its own announcements at appropriate times.
But it is fair to say that changes to the newspaper itself will not be drastic. We will continue to publish 44 issues a year and we will do it in the current newspaper format. Readers do not want the WCR reduced to a monthly magazine or to an Internet-only “publication.” Those things will not happen, at least in the foreseeable future.
The changes we do foresee will come in heightening the WCR’s roles in faith formation and evangelization. The board also wants to create structures that will ensure the newspaper is responsive to reader interests and concerns. It is further considering what changes to make to the internal structures of the WCR.
If some readers believe change is slow in coming, I would respond that the board wants to strengthen the WCR in its mission for the long term. It is not seeking quick fixes because the process of consulting readers and other groups in the archdiocese did not uncover serious problems that need quick fixes.
The WCR was born out of the Second Vatican Council. Vatican II was an epic event that transformed Church life and, I hope, will continue to transform it.
Next year, to mark the 50th anniversary of the start of the council, I will write a series of articles that will endeavour to familiarize our readers with the history and teachings of Vatican II. It is a vision that needs to be kept alive and even renewed for a new era.
At the WCR, we are acutely conscious that we are no longer living in the 1960s. The newspaper has changed substantially over its 46-year history to meet the changing times. The revisioning process and the archbishop’s pastoral plan, I trust, will deepen and enhance that process of change at the WCR.
We hope you continue to support and benefit from the Western Catholic Reporter. If there are times when you think we should be doing better, we want to continue to hear from you then as well.