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Issue Date:  April 4, 2008

From the Editor's Desk

Passing on the faith

Much of today’s paper is about kids, our kids and the dedicated educators who are showing us a way to leave no child out. Whether or not you have children, the stories make everyone a parent and equally responsible for the young in our midst and in our lives. I can’t say for certain, but I suspect this issue of NCR will get read and passed around more than some of our other issues. Why? Because the stories touch the core of family life. If I’m wrong, let me know.

You might be surprised to know that the most consistent concern I hear as publisher is about children. I’m often asked about what our readers want and, as expected, the conversation will focus on issues of institutional church, politics, Vatican pronouncements, and other church-related questions that reflect frustration -- and this issue has its share of that sort of content too. But in fact, the one topic that stirs the most interest in just about all our readers is their concern for their children and grandchildren. How do we pass on the faith to the next generation? And for those without children of their own, I hear the same concern for nieces and nephews.

But here’s the most fascinating part. Even if readers feel upset or angry about authority questions and institutional problems, let the subject change to that of our children and grandchildren and it’s as if a switch has been flipped. The focus goes from fury to a simple, heartfelt desire to pass on the message of the social Gospel and the compassion of Jesus. If you want to get people to talk about their faith life, ask them about their children and all the young people in their lives.

A church without children is a church without a future. Kids force us to get beyond the rules and rituals to the heart of what’s important. Their questions and suspicions about our institutional commitments sometimes hit us in the gut, as if to denigrate our lifelong fidelities. Of course, no one promised us that having children would be easy. Yet, if nothing else, kids help us prioritize our deepest beliefs. A statement in this issue’s cover story says it all: “When we stop labeling and start loving, life will be a lot less complicated.”

How do we pass on the faith? I don’t have a simple answer, but I’ll share with you some wisdom from my mother: “Always keep the lines of communication open and keep talking with your children.” As the lead story in our special section on Catholic education suggests -- we must leave no child out. (See story)

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Also, as we continue to test our new Web site at, we’ve posted two YouTube videos about the national movement “Hard as Nails” and its founder, Justin Fatica. You can find them listed under our YouTube section, which is located in the upper right corner of the new Web site.

We’ve received more than 400 comments from our readers about the new Web site, with many, many good suggestions. As we make adjustments, we will keep posting the older version of alongside the newer version.

Contact me at

-- Sr. Rita Larivee, SSA

National Catholic Reporter, April 4, 2008

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