Eternal Word Television Network, the world's largest religious media provider, announced on Jan. 19 that it would be acquiring the National Catholic Register from its current owners, the Legionaries of Christ.
“I believe the Register has a bright future and fits quite well under the EWTN umbrella,” EWTN's President and CEO Michael Warsaw told CNA, announcing the planned acquisition from the network's headquarters in Birmingham, Ala. “Our goal is not only to continue the Register's legacy, but also to build upon it and to give it a platform for growth and expansion.”
“In the short term, readers will likely see very few big changes,” he explained, while noting that “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.”
That presence has already expanded in recent years to include the network's collaboration with Catholic News Agency, and the recent creation of the Spanish-language service “EWTN Noticias.”
The Register's previous owners, the religious order the Legionaries of Christ, ran into financial difficulties at the paper during 2009 and 2010, alongside other troubles caused by the revelation that their founder, Fr. Marcel Maciel, lived a double life.
In the midst of these problems, EWTN sought to keep the long-running publication from disappearing.
“It was quite apparent to me that the loss of the National Catholic Register would be a sad development for the Church,” Warsaw said. “As an apostolate that is focused on using the media to evangelize, we immediately saw how the Register could fit into what we do, and become another extension of our mission.”
The network has signed a letter of intent to acquire the publication from the Legionaries of Christ. No cash will be exchanged under the terms of the agreement, which states that EWTN will take over the Register's operating expenses and subscription liabilities on Feb. 1.
EWTN will become the fourth owner of the Register, which was first published out of Denver, Colorado in 1905. The paper began publishing at the national level in 1927, reaching its peak circulation as a print journal during the 1950s. Patrick Frawley, a California-based investor, bought the paper in 1970 and moved operations to Los Angeles.
In 1995 the Legionaries took over the Register, moving it first to Connecticut, and more recently to New York. Although the Legionaries have remained optimistic about continued support for the publication from subscribers and donors, they reportedly lacked the resources to oversee necessary changes to the Register's business model.
Michael Warsaw said he was “very pleased and excited that the Register will now be part of the EWTN family.” He recalled his long-running discussions with EWTN's founder Mother Angelica, dating back to the early 1990s, as to how the network best could incorporate the Gospel message with world-class news coverage.
“It was Mother Angelica herself, who, many years ago, insisted that the words 'news service' should be placed on our letterhead alongside the words 'television,' 'radio,' and 'Internet,' to describe the core services EWTN provides.”
“I think the acquisition of the National Catholic Register is another step forward in executing that vision of Mother Angelica,” he said.