CHICAGO –– Catholic Press Month, celebrated in February, “comes at a particularly critical moment” this year, said Greg Erlandson, president of the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada.

The nation’s Catholic bishops “have made clear their concern with recent government regulations and the threat such regulations pose to religious liberty,” said Erlandson, president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor in Huntington, Ind.

The Catholic press provides the vehicle for the bishops’ message to reach Catholics, he said in a statement released by the Chicago-based press association.

“It is during challenging times like these that we can best recognize the great blessing that is the Catholic press,” he said. “It is critical that Catholics not only have access to sound news coverage and commentary, but that they hear directly from their leaders on the issues of the day and have the resources to see their world through the eyes of faith.

“Only the Catholic press gives Catholic leaders a voice with which to be heard by their people –– unmuted, uncensored and independent of the preconceptions and prejudices of too many secular media outlets,” he added.

Erlandson said the CPA “believes strongly” that its members’ newspapers, magazines, newsletters, books and blogs are “the most effective adult education tools to reach Catholics, and that they do so more efficiently than any other communications means outside the Sunday homily.”

The CPA –– which celebrated its 100th anniversary last year –– includes 151 newspapers, 78 magazines, 22 newsletters and 13 foreign language publications.

“This February, we do well to mark Catholic Press Month by acknowledging with appreciation the irreplaceable value of the most dynamic Catholic press in the world –– and doing our part to support it,” said Erlandson.