Bishop DiMarzio recognized as champion of the First Amendment
PROSPECT HEIGHTS – Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, in his role as editor of The Tablet, received the Bishop John England Award from the Catholic Media Association for his defense of the rights of the First Amendment.
“I am honored to have won this award. I have been a strong supporter of Catholic journalism, which is more important than ever in today’s highly secular culture, ”said Bishop DiMarzio, who added that he was proud of his record.
“I fought for our First Amendment rights when our churches were discriminated against during the COVID pandemic,” he explained.
Bishop DiMarzio was referring to the lawsuit the Diocese of Brooklyn filed last year against then-governor Andrew Cuomo over restrictions he placed on church attendance during the height of the pandemic. The diocese argued that the attendance limits Cuomo placed on places of worship to stop the spread of COVID-19 (in some cases, only 10 people allowed inside) violated religious freedom.
The case went to the United States Supreme Court which ruled in favor of the diocese in November 2020. The story and all of its developments have been dealt with in depth in the pages of The Tablet.
The award, established in 1992, is named after Bishop John England, a 19th-century publisher who founded the first Catholic newspaper in the United States, the United States Catholic Miscellany, which began appearing in 1822.
In order to be nominated, the CMA website states that the Bishop “clearly should have acted in defense of the publication or used their publications, in accordance with his mission, to defend the rights of the Publisher’s First Amendment. , the institution that owns the publication, and / or the Catholic Church as a whole.
Bishop DiMarzio said he takes the role of journalism seriously “because the press ensures that we hear all sides of a story and gives people the information they need in an educated society and informed “.
Vito Formica, executive director of content and news development for DeSales Media Group, the nonprofit that produces The Tablet for the diocese, nominated Bishop DiMarzio for the award.
“What we are doing would not be possible without the support of Bishop DiMarzio”, he declared.
Formica said the bishop should be praised for allowing The Tablet to cover the full scope of the Catholic experience, even when it comes to publishing negative stories – such as the recent sexual abuse crisis. years.
Bishop DiMarzio himself faced negative press when he was accused of sexual misconduct in 2019. These allegations were ultimately deemed “not to have the appearance of truth” by the Vatican in 2021 after an independent investigation by New York attorney John O’Donnell, a former federal prosecutor and the law firm Herbert Smith Freehills. The law firm then hired the firm of former FBI Director Louis Freeh to conduct the third-party investigation.
In the letter of appointment, Formica stressed that The Tablet was not prohibited from covering the allegations.
“The Tablet had the duty to relate rather difficult stories and [Bishop DiMarzio] helped us do that. He never told us, “You can’t publish this. It adds a lot to the transparency that so many readers are looking for. And when it comes to sexual abuse, telling the whole story is part of the healing process. Said Formica.
Bishop DiMarzio explained that it is important for the Catholic media to report difficult stories.
“When the news about the Church is negative, it hurts. But at the end of the day, it’s worth reporting because Catholic journalists won’t add the anti-Catholic bias sometimes seen or read in secular media, ”he said. “Trust in the Church has been damaged by the crisis of sexual abuse. Honest reporting helps us rebuild trust with Catholics.
Formica said it’s a responsibility their team takes seriously. “Entrusting the laity with the duty to account for all aspects of the diocese and the Church takes courage,” he said.
Mgr. Sean Ogle, chairman of the board of DeSales Media Group, said Bishop DiMarzio was a champion of the First Amendment for many reasons – not just because of his willingness to sue the government.
“The litigation is part of the defense of the First Amendment, but the bishop also writes a weekly column and publicly exposes what the Church thinks, believes, teaches and does,” said Mgr. Ogle said. “He sets up the Church as an actor in the public square.
The Tablet, which was established in 1908, continues to thrive as other dioceses across the country are closing their newspapers. Bishop DiMarzio said he would oppose such closures.
“There are a lot of negative and anti-religious media messages, so the diocesan media must counter this,” he said.
A diocesan newspaper can also serve another purpose, according to Bishop DiMarzio: “The Tablet not only brought the news, but it was an exceptional vehicle for the evangelization of the people of God here in New York.