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Issue Date:  November 16, 2007

From the Editor's Desk

Our greatest responsibility

This week’s issue of NCR contains a special section devoted to family life. Particular emphasis is upon the problematic issues facing children in a consumer-driven society. Our children have become targets of marketers and are now part of the corporate world’s supply-and-demand business agenda for increasing profits. When we speak of child abuse, it goes beyond sexual abuse, although children are targets of that too, as reported in this week’s story on the emerging awareness of sex abuse in the public school systems in this country (see story). Using children in a manner that objectifies them for personal or corporate satisfaction is a form of violence.

As adults, the challenge before us is the choice of values we will pass on to our children. They are not mini-adults and do not have the experience either socially, academically, physically, spiritually or emotionally to grapple with the issues of adulthood, nor should they be required to. I’d be remiss not to admit, however, that the problem is far easier to articulate than the solution. I have no children, yet I’ve watched my own family and friends accept the demanding challenges of raising children in a world that is consumed with greed, power and self-gratification. All parents need the assistance of all adults as we accept the challenge to pass on the values for creating a better world. It takes much more than a village to raise a child. It requires local, national and global cooperative efforts that affirm the enactment of laws and polices that protect children from all forms of abuse and misuse. Our children are our greatest -- and most precious -- responsibility.

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Also in this week’s issue of NCR is another voice in our series called Connections: stories that spotlight writers and thinkers, Catholics and members of other spiritual traditions whose insights can inspire and guide us. As we promised, we will introduce from time to time individuals who are addressing critical issues facing us as a society and as a church. Bill McKibben, an American environmentalist who frequently writes about global warming, is our focus this week (see story). Though this story does not address children specifically, it lays before us as adults the challenge of deciding not only the values, but the world we will pass on to our children. Similarly, our cover story this week is an eloquent presentation by John Allen of the complexities of the many bioethical debates our children will inherit.

Our Family Life issue this week is not limited to the inserted eight-page special section. As I am certain everyone knows, family life deals with everything and is the center for building community; traditional and nontraditional alike. There is no one definition -- it’s a matter of where and who you call home.

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You have probably noticed over the past few weeks that we have begun our Christmas campaign to help increase circulation. Each year, we count on our readers to share the vision of NCR with others by buying a gift subscription. This year, our marketing program is offering a one-year special discounted price for new subscriptions to be given to individuals or organizations who have not subscribed to NCR for at least two years -- $29.95. Please help us spread the word by going to

-- Sr. Rita Larivee, SSA

National Catholic Reporter, November 16, 2007

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