Should Catholic Newspapers Employ Lapsed Journalists?

Should Catholic Newspapers Employ Lapsed Journalists?

Confessions of a part-time Mass-goer    newmass

It’s the time of year when the experience of Jesus is most profound and vivid, even for non-regular Mass attenders, says KEVIN McKenna

My name is Kevin McKenna and I don’t go to Mass every week. If there was a self-help group for Catholic back-sliders like me I’d probably be getting the hugs and back-rubbing treatment right now. “Amen brother, just let it out,” someone would say, gently. “We’ve all been there,” another would whisper. There could be tears. Afterwards someone might quote Luke 15:7. “I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” It is one of the favourite Biblical verses of recusants everywhere. Along with ‘let he who is without sin cast the first stone,’ and ‘judge ye not, lest ye be judged.’ All three of these verses, taken together, offer a wee exegesis of redemption for those of us who have become, ahem, somewhat neglectful of our Catholic duties.

I can’t quite recall when the rot first set in. And it certainly wasn’t due to any theological or philosophical quarrel I had with Rome, or the teachings of Holy Mother Church. I might be a haphazard Catholic but I still believe in the whole package, even those bits of it that I cheerfully choose to ignore in the trade winds of everyday secular life. I remain within the ambit of the magisterium, as they say. Nor is it because of the recent waves of scandal that have broken on our shores. I may have been vociferous in my criticism of our leadership over some of these issues but, in the midst of it all, I acknowledge that these are only mere human beings and as prone to error as the rest of us.

The Faith is eternal, sacred and divine… and unshakeable—except on some Sundays where I’ve lamentably found other things to do.

To read more, click here


Now, it would take too long to highlight all the questionable statements in Kevin McKenna’s article. He has, for example, made his views on “gay rights” abundantly clear over time,  notably at the time of the same-sex marriage debate, so to claim that he “believes the whole package” is stretching it a bit, to put it mildly.

McKenna was once Deputy Editor of The (notoriously anti-Catholic) Herald, which position he abused by instructing the then Letters Editor to send anything from Catholic Truth “upstairs” (to him) and so it came to pass that our letters, which once graced the letters page of The Herald with reasonable frequency, were seen no more and this state of affairs continues at the present time. 

Kevin McKenna, then, is not a man of integrity.  That’s a given.  This latest revelation – that he’s a lapsed Catholic, employed to write for Scotland’s only national Catholic (in inverted commas) newspaper – is but one more piece of evidence in that regard. 

Don’t fall for all that pseudo-humility dressed in selective biblical quotes, wrongly interpreted. For example, he blithely quotes the verse about there being “more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents…” without mentioning the fact that he has shown no sign of repenting of his deliberate choice of lapsation – which is, contrary to his personal opinion, a mortal sin.

What kind of journalist – and what kind of editor – would imagine that practising, regular Mass-going Catholics are remotely interested in reading the ramblings of a man who cannot even get the basics right in his own life? What has he got to say that is of any interest to any Catholic? A man who doesn’t even know the teaching of the Church, that to miss Mass on Sundays without good cause is very much a mortal sin. Who, in other words, does Kevin McKenna think he is, to mislead readers as he does – shamelessly… Or maybe you think it’s no big deal that a lapsed journalist should be employed to write for the Scottish Catholic Observer? After all, they handed a column to the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge not so long ago.

Come to think of it, maybe I’m making much ado about nothing… what do you think? 

Comments (46)

  • Miles Immaculatae Reply

    It has been my opinion for a long time now that the Catholic press in Britain exists only for the benefit of those who write for it.

    And all the folk who write for the Catholic Herald have similar silly names and poncey accents. Talk about old boys’ club! Snowballs chance in hell I would have writing for them.

    Bess Twiston-Davies?
    Alexander Lucie-Smith?
    Max Wind-Cowie?

    I spoke to a CH columnist on the phone once. He sounded like he was right out of Brideshead revisited. For England’s most ‘conservative’ Catholic paper, the Catholic Herald reps I have seen on television recently have been peculiarly unorthodox: Ed West, Tim Stanley etc.. Yuk.

    The only Catholic paper I read nowadays is Catholic Truth.

    April 21, 2014 at 2:48 am
    • Eileenanne Reply

      Don’t judge people by their names or accents. Very few people are personally responsible for either.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:21 am
      • Miles Immaculatae

        Yes, I suppose you’re right. I think it was more the social homogeneity in journalism, rather than them personally I was annoyed with.

        April 21, 2014 at 6:39 pm
    • editor Reply


      “The only Catholic paper I read nowadays is Catholic Truth.”

      That’s the spirit!

      April 21, 2014 at 10:08 am
    • catholicconvert1 Reply


      I always thought that Tim Stanley was of an orthodox persuasion, as it were?

      April 21, 2014 at 1:57 pm
      • Miles Immaculatae


        April 21, 2014 at 6:37 pm
      • No one you know...

        Tim Stanley is an absolutely excellent chap. And a convert like yourself!

        April 23, 2014 at 8:30 pm
  • Eileenanne Reply

    The Catholic Observer is a commercial enterprise, not a mouthpiece for the Church so they can employ and print whoever an whatever they like. Whether it should be sold in churches is another matter. However, this article probably reflects what many people feel and do. It’s publication would perhaps serve a useful purpose if it had been printed alongside another article telling people why it is importatnt to be at Mass every Sunday. May there will be a follow-up article next week.

    I have been to many Easter Vigils and don’t recall the “gradual unwrapping of the paschal candle”. Maybe he’s confusing it with the cross on Good Friday. When a person mixes up those two feasts it’s time to go to church a bit oftener I’d say!

    April 21, 2014 at 9:20 am
    • Petrus Reply


      I’ve never seen that either! I’ve been to New Rite and Traditional vigils and I’ve never seen anything resembling that, except, as you say, on Good Friday.

      April 21, 2014 at 9:36 am
    • editor Reply


      Whether or not the SCO is a “commercial enterprise” is not the point. It’s known as the “Catholic newspaper” and the bishops have the duty to rule on what is published therein. AND to prohibit its sale in Catholic parishes and other outlets. The fact that it uses “Catholic” in its title belies the claim that it is nothing more than a “commercial enterprise”.

      As for this “balanced” argument – that it would have been OK to say he was lapsed and mock the Church in his own diabolical way, as long as there was another article alongside saying the opposite – sorry, but that’s not the case. Truth and error cannot be put to the Catholic people in a spirit of “take your pick”.

      Even the recent popes have told Catholic journalists that they have a duty to publish the truth. Nothing but the truth. How many Catholics today know that it is a grave sin to entertain doubts about the truths of the Faith which God has revealed? Not a lot, would be my first guess and “none” would be my considered opinion.

      Putting doubts into reader’s heads by publishing junk journalism by the likes of Kevin McKenna is to encourage grave sin.

      As for his mistake about the unwrapping of the Paschal candle – that’s nothing compared to making light of missing Mass on Sunday. I am rather surprised that you would single that out for comment. In the great scheme of things, it’s no big deal. Missing Mass and boasting about it in a Catholic newspaper, most certainly is the biggest of deals.

      April 21, 2014 at 10:17 am
      • Eileenanne

        The Bishops can no more rule on what is published in the Catholic Observer than they can on what is published in the Daily Record. Their only power lies in whether they allow these commercial papers to be sold on Catholic premises. As that is where these papers make most of their sales, the bishops do have considerable power, but it is indirect.

        Even the recent popes have told Catholic journalists that they have a duty to publish the truth. Nothing but the truth.

        Yes, and they’ve told the likes of me I must love my neighbour without exception. Doesn’t mean I do it – yet.

        Kevin McKenna is far from being the only person who considers himself Catholic without going to Mass every Sunday. It is an accepted fact that the head count taken in parishes each year is slightly misleading. If a parish has, say, 300 people at Mass every week, they will not be the same 300 every week. it is estimated that if all the people who come to Mass sometimes all showed up on the same day, the number would be 20-30% higher. It is an issue that won’t change unless it is talked about any and every avenue needs to be used to show people the error of their ways, including a proper response to an article like this one. Left alone it is dangerous, as it could “normalise” irregular Mass attandance but as the opening gambit in an explanation of why we must go to Mass every week, it could be useful – IF , and it’s a big if – people who don’t go to Mass every week feature among the readership of the Catholic press.

        April 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm
      • Frankier


        The bishops have control over the rubbish that Basil Loftus and many like him spout in so called Catholic papers. They also have control over their own actions, or inactions to be precise.

        They could also demand that a disclaimer be printed in all these rags
        stating that anything printed, other than the date, are only the opinions of a bunch of reporters who wouldn’t get a job in a proper newspaper.

        April 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm
      • Nicky


        “… stating that anything printed, other than the date, are only the opinions of a bunch of reporters who wouldn’t get a job in a proper newspaper.”

        That’s so funny – and so true. I couldn’t agree more. If the bishops disagreed with what these dissidents say they could insist on a disclaimer. They don’t do that so we are entitled to draw our own conclusions.

        April 21, 2014 at 8:23 pm
      • Frankier

        Nicky, their silence = their approval.

        April 21, 2014 at 9:12 pm
      • Fidelis


        It says in Canon Law that the bishops have to make sure that all writings in their diocese are not harmful to the faith or morals of Catholics. It also says that no publication should use the name Catholic in its title without permission from the bishop so the bishops can withdraw that permission if they wish. In fact, Pope John Paul II said that was one of the things they should do in cases where Catholic institutions are not living up to the name, e.g. schools and newspapers. No commercial group can describe itself as Catholic without permission so the bishops should take away that permission from the SCO.

        There’s also a difference between you (and me) not living up to the commandments in our own lives and a journalist who is paid by a Catholic paper, writing in a way that undermines the Church. I think there’s clear blue water there.

        April 21, 2014 at 2:58 pm
      • Petrus


        The bishops in this country would need to take away “Catholic” from every single Catholic school in the country!

        I am aware of this provision in Canon Law. I wonder if the Bishops could forbid the SSPX from calling Saint Andrew’s Catholic Church a “Catholic” Church? Let them dare! Maybe I shouldn’t put ideas in their heads.

        By the way, did anyone read Bishop Keenan’s dreadful piece in this week’s SCO?

        April 21, 2014 at 3:32 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        I haven’t read Bishop Keenan in the SCO – would you mind telling us what it’s about? I remember he was sort of made out to be a hopeful choice when he was first appointed, really orthodox. I’m really interested to know what he wrote, if you don’t mind quoting him.

        April 21, 2014 at 5:40 pm
      • Petrus


        I was one he said that Fr Keenan was a baby step in the right direction so I’m bitterly disappointed. I will post a summary of what he said ASAP.

        April 21, 2014 at 5:46 pm
      • Margaret Mary


        The American bishops made Michael Voris change the name of RealCatholic TV – so they do sometimes enforce that rule.

        April 21, 2014 at 5:41 pm
  • Frankier Reply

    At least he has admitted he is bothered with rot and I would say that it is a dry, very dry, rot.

    This is another “smart guy” who should be shackled if he makes any effort to receive holy communion.

    April 21, 2014 at 10:18 am
    • editor Reply


      You are right – apart from publicly boasting of missing Sunday Mass, he has, in the past, made clear his support for same-sex marriage, although I think he used some form of words to suggest the Church accommodates homosexual relationships rather than an outright “yes” to same-sex marriage. So, not only is he undermining Catholic morals by his obvious sympathy for homosexual couplings, but he is being paid by a Catholic newspaper for encouraging readers to think nothing of his lapsed state. Will Canon 915 be applied to him? Yeah, right.

      April 21, 2014 at 10:22 am
  • Spero Reply

    The SCO has printed many such articles by various people, over the last decade, or maybe more years, for all I know.
    A newspaper that prints the outrageous articles, monthly now I think, by Monsignor Basil Loftus, is not just showing a breadth of views( which no doubt it would claim in defence ) but promulgating blatant outright disobedience to orthodoxy, and bitter criticism of all those he perceives to be of a traditional/ orthodox outlook.
    So what else can be expected of it?

    April 21, 2014 at 11:37 am
    • Petrus Reply

      Very true, Spero. It never fails to surprise me.

      April 21, 2014 at 11:38 am
    • Josephine Reply


      I agree with you completely. The SCO is a rubbish newspaper and I don’t know any Catholics who buy it anymore.

      April 21, 2014 at 12:49 pm
  • catholicconvert1 Reply

    Lapsed Catholics, i.e those who only turn up at Easter and Christmas to massage their consciences, because let me tell you, those who follow that pattern stick out like sore wotsits at a bar mitzvah. They don’t know when to kneel or genuflect and half heartedly mumble the responses. Yet they have the tenacity to go up for Communion. Such people will never have seen a catechism or a Bible, so you can bet a dollar to a doughnut that they know only very rudimentary basics of Catholic beliefs, ergo they cannot be trusted to write for Catholic newspapers. They are so ignorant, that they base their world views on the likes of Cardinal Vincent ‘I support civil partnerships’ Nichols or Pope ‘who am I to judge’ Francis. I believe that all candidates for newspapers should be vetted in order to check out the nature of their beliefs. I believe that Editor should be appointed to chair a commission- we can but hope!! It’s not just lapsed Catholics who worry me, but also dissident Catholics such as Robert Mickens et al, who slander the Pope and implicitly and succintly criticise and question the basis and veracity of Catholic doctrine. I personally do not read ‘catholic’ newspapers. I did once, but I had a mild stroke a few pages in.

    April 21, 2014 at 2:07 pm
  • gabriel syme Reply

    I pity the sad figure of Kevin McKenna.

    Like many nominal-Catholics who make a living from bitter and distorted attacks on the institution which educated and formed them, he appears an angry, frustrated man, unsure of who he is and where he is going.

    He probably reconciles his attacks on his own Church and community, by convincing himself that he does it because he means well and wants the Church to be all it can be. But his playing to the gallery in the rags he writes for, (Guardian, Observer etc), is so ill-informed and erroneous that its clear his articles represent no more than his meal-ticket, not genuine appeals for change.

    Real journalists research and discover stories. McKenna just vomits his rehearsed bile over the page. The former represents investigative effort and intellectual curiosity, but McKenna stands only for cheap-and-easy articles, conjured from his imagination onto the back of a fag packet (likely during the course of a seat on the toilet.)

    The reason for his rare mass attendance is that he is not really a Catholic at all. But showing his face once a season or so represents the bare minimum requirement for his claims of Catholicity to have any credibility, when attached to his columns of angry drivel.

    The mask slipped (again) in a recent Observer column:

    – first the idiot attacks the Church for supposedly having “a pathological and sinister hatred of homosexuality” (which is not even remotely true, so McKenna is a liar also)

    – then he quickly goes on to shower heretics with the most glowing of praise:.

    I had cause to admire the stripped-down and spare beauty of the Free Church of Scotland. Unencumbered by careless devotions to forgotten saints and moving Madonnas, it continues to provide wisdom and discernment to those whom it touches. It is closer to what St Peter and St Paul thought God’s church should look like than that which Rome has constructed

    Really? And he was me thinking that the Free Church accepted every last word in the Bible literally without question, including the bits about homosexuality being an abomination.

    So here , in fact, is further evidence of why he barely attends mass – his infatuation with backward, man-made protestant groups. One wonders why – if what he says above is true – doesn’t he attend the Free Church of Scotland?

    It is because then he would lose his journalistic (I use that word loosely) meal ticket. If he revealed himself as a Protestant, there would be no more production line of “disgruntled Catholic puts the boot into the Church” articles, to titillate Guardian readers.

    The man is a circus article. A fool and a liar, without a scrap of principle. I daresay all this double-speak as posing as a Catholic while longing to be protestant has left him quite disillusioned and unsure of who he is (or wants to be).

    And his two-faced Guardian articles make fools of the dull-wits who buy the “Catholic” newspapers he appears in.

    April 21, 2014 at 2:44 pm
    • Fidelis Reply

      Gabriel Syme,

      Thanks for that brilliant post. Kevin McKenna really is a two faced hypocrite.

      April 21, 2014 at 2:59 pm
    • Nicky Reply

      Gabriel Syme,

      I agree with Fidelis – that is a brilliant post, a real eye-opener. You hit the nail on the head when you said “The reason for his rare mass attendance is that he is not really a Catholic at all.” That’s it.

      Something comes to my mind, though. If you can unearth his drivel in papers like the Guardian etc. why can’t the editor of the Scottish Catholic Observer? Or does she know and not care?

      April 21, 2014 at 8:20 pm
  • Darth Papum Reply

    I wish people would just stop buying the SCO and it would die quickly. After so many years of deceitfully calling itself “Catholic” I think it’s beyond saving.

    April 21, 2014 at 6:29 pm
    • Nicky Reply

      Darth Papum,

      I agree. Nobody should buy that rag. It’s poison.

      April 21, 2014 at 8:14 pm
  • charlesmcewan Reply

    Kevin Mckenna is really a very sorry type of person and if he doesn’t start applying some basic logic to his situation he will find himself in a very uncomfortable place sometime in the near future. Catholic teaching which he appears to reject states very clearly that there is is a place called hell where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. We have the words of Jesus confirming this and Mr McKenna gets there his regrets about missing Sunday mass will be too late. Wake up McKenna. The mercy of God exists for those who recognize that we humans do not reinvent morality but rather that we have to follow what is taught.

    April 21, 2014 at 6:45 pm
    • Nicky Reply

      Charles McEwan,

      “Kevin McKenna is really a very sorry type of person”

      Yes, I agree but he’s also a very arrogant and dishonest type of person to say he accepts “the whole package” of Catholic teaching when he doesn’t. That post from Gabriel Syme was an eye-opener.

      April 21, 2014 at 8:16 pm
  • Frankier Reply

    McKenna will be shrewd enough to turn up for his work every morning. He is fly enough to know that his employers wouldn’t be as tolerant as God is.

    April 21, 2014 at 9:27 pm
  • editor Reply


    Too true – there’s not an employer in the world, as tolerant as God. Another one of your memorable sayings. I’m thinking of compiling a “Sayings of Frankier” to compete with the “Sayings of Mao tse Tung… 😀

    April 21, 2014 at 11:52 pm
    • Frankier Reply

      I would go for it ed. We could go 50/50 with the proceeds as long as you pay for the advert in the SCO.

      April 22, 2014 at 1:42 pm
      • editor


        50/50 is fair enough, given that I even caught myself quoting you on another thread. I need to gerragrip – soon !

        April 22, 2014 at 3:44 pm
  • Faith of Our Fathers Reply

    Who needs enemies with friends such as him I am sure the Masons and The Orange Orders would welcome him with shouts of acclaim. That’s of course if he is not a member at the moment. Of the so called hundreds and lets face it there are hundreds of Free Protestant Churches why does he just not start up another one of his own. There is nothing more pleasing to most non Catholics than to see one who professes to be one attacking and putting the boot into the faith.

    April 22, 2014 at 1:56 am
    • Frankier Reply


      I can never understand why these types don’t just pack their bags and join
      one, or two or three, of the thousands of so called christian organisations that caters for their every needs.

      Or is it the case that they just like being awkward and nasty?

      There’s one certainty though, they would need to toe the line if they did choose to jump and they all know that. Basil Loftus would be treated like Basil Brush if he tried the same tricks in the War Cry.

      April 22, 2014 at 1:55 pm
      • editor

        Basil Loftus would be treated like Basil Brush if he tried the same tricks in the War Cry.

        I have just GOT to fit that into the May edition! You’re wicked – it’s already full up with Loftus featuring as usual, but I just gotta fit that one in – it’s a Frankier classic!

        April 22, 2014 at 3:46 pm
      • Frankier


        And I don’t just mean someone patting him on his back. Or is that me going too far again?

        Ed: not at all, Frankier. That’s nice of you to want to pat Mgr Loftus on his back. I’d only try that if we were standing at the edge of a very high cliff! Joking, Monsignor, joking – honest!

        April 22, 2014 at 3:55 pm
      • editor


        I’ll doctor it slightly – you’ve been so good lately, avoiding even the mildest crudity, that I was just about convinced that you are a candidate for canonisation, sooner rather than later. Still, come to think of it, who isn’t these days?! That’s a strictly rhetorical question this week. Next week will be a different kettle of canonisation talk altogether! Hold fire…

        See if you can spot the doctor at work now…

        Clue: check out the editorial footnote in bold at the end of your (naughty) post…

        April 22, 2014 at 4:54 pm
      • Frankier


        When I was young, pranksters would sometimes nip up behind you and shove their hand up the inside of your jacket and catch you by the back of the neck and give it a squeeze.

        That is what I meant in my original post about Monsignor Brush.


        Any chance of getting back on the canonisation list again after your misunderstanding?

        April 22, 2014 at 7:35 pm
      • editor


        You’re back on the list. I’ve seen that particular manoeuvre – in the days before children had “rights” 😀

        April 22, 2014 at 10:20 pm
    • editor Reply


      So (sadly) true. The only people encouraged by the writings of the likes of McKenna are those outside the Church. I mean those who are formally and officially outside, unlike the nominal Catholic McKenna-think-alikes…

      April 22, 2014 at 3:49 pm
  • crofterlady Reply

    Absolutely by accident did I come across this article as I don’t normally read these “catholic” rags. I was amazed and then outraged. No way would I allow my children to read this apostasy rubbish. Why on earth would McKenna be given space in a Catholic newspaper? Don’t the bishops care?

    The monks on Orkney, now in good standing( ahem, ahem), produce a great newspaper called: CATHOLIC. Now, when will we see this in every parish? Dream on. They must have been mad to “reconcile” as the bishop of Aberdeen doesn’t want them like he wouldn’t want a migraine. What a waste when these monks could supply the old liturgy and thus fill a void. Even when they are asked to supply, it’s never on a Sunday.

    April 23, 2014 at 10:41 pm
    • Vianney Reply

      The Bishop could have used the monks many times but has refused to do so. Before the present P.P. arrived the priest in Thurso had to say Mass in Thurso and Wick and then travel up to Kirkwall to say an evening Mass. The people there didn’t even get a Christmas Mass (well they did but it was celebrated on St. Stephen’s day) and all the Bishop had to do was ask the monks to serve the parish until a new priest was appointed. He could have said to the parishioners that they would get Mass and that it would be Tridentine so like it or lump it. Who knows, the people might have preferred it and asked for it to become the norm in the parish.

      April 23, 2014 at 11:21 pm

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