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Issue of March 21, 2008

March 21, 2008 -- NCR front cover


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   This Week’s Edition: March 21, 2008 

Vol. 44 No. 15   
Cover story -- Myanmar after the crackdown
Inside Myanmar

By Teresa Malcolm
An overview of a troubled land.

Full story
Burma then and now

By Teresa Malcolm
Throughout the past millennium, several ethnic groups have lived in what is now known as Myanmar, formerly called Burma. The most populated area is the broad valley of the Irrawaddy River. Forested mountain ranges rise to the Shan Plateau in the northeast, while the coastline forms the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. Countless Buddhist temples dot the landscape -- most notably in the ancient city of Bagan, where thousands of temples remain among the ruins, and at Yangon where the gleaming Shwedagon Pagoda stands.

Full story
Refugees from myanmar find a home in Bangkok

By Teresa Malcolm
Bangkok’s Wat Prok seems to be swarming with boys in the morning. Most are dressed in identical blue -- they get to play soccer this afternoon, so they wear their sports uniforms all day in anticipation, and some kids are getting in some early informal practice. Others come up to greet their teacher, an American Maryknoll lay missioner, with a wai, the prayer-like gesture of respect used in Thailand.

Full story
Future looks bleak for locked-in land

By Teresa Malcolm
The crackdown on demonstrators by Myanmar’s military government in September has provoked intense international pressure, including moves by the European Union and the United States to tighten economic sanctions against the regime. The junta’s announcement in mid-February that it intends to hold a referendum on a constitution in May and elections in 2010 might raise hopes that the pressure is working, but pro-democracy advocates have dismissed the plans as a hollow attempt to deflect international criticism.

Full story
Special Report: Dialogue between König and Dupuis
König, Dupuis lament censure

Following is a transcript of the König-Dupuis dialogue, which took place in Vienna, Austria, July 16, 2003. The NCR staff has excerpted it for space considerations.

Full story
Writer witnessed conversation between cardinal and censured theologian Jacques Dupuis

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
At the beginning of July 2003, Cardinal König rang me to say that that he had had a letter from Fr. Jacques Dupuis. The Belgian Jesuit had become famous in 1998 after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith opened an investigation into his work. Now he wanted to come from Rome to Vienna to thank König personally for having publicly defended him in The Tablet. Although they had spoken to one another on the telephone at the time of the congregation’s investigation, the two men had never met.

Full story
Confusion expected on Zimbabwe election day

By NCR Correspondent
In the weeks and days leading up to Zimbabwe’s national elections, the government has barred all but official bodies from providing voter education. Civil society and church groups fear the ban will lead to massive confusion on election day, and the confusion is insurance that the government of Robert Mugabe will be returned to power.

Full story
Jews debate anti-gentile prayers

By Menachem Wecker
Tensions between Catholics and Jews over a Good Friday prayer in the Latin Tridentine Mass have caused some Jews to take a harder look at their own exclusive prayers and to ask whether Catholics are getting a lopsided share of blame.

Full story
Scientist-priest wins 2008 Templeton prize

By Religion News Service
IMichal Heller, a Polish cosmologist and Roman Catholic priest whose commitment to combining the insights of science and religion stretches back to his youth in war-torn Europe, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize.

Full story
Luther's rehabilitation called groundless

By Catholic News Service
Rumors that the Vatican is set to rehabilitate Martin Luther, the 16th-century leader of the Protestant Reformation, are groundless, said the Vatican spokesman, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi.

Full story
Pope in U.S.
Roman pope, American culture

By David Gibson
As with John Paul before him, Benedict could use language lessons.

Full story
NCR Editorials
Old sins revisited

For older Catholics who remember tallying up their sins like amateur golfers on the 18th green while waiting their turn in the confessional, news of an expanded list of capital sins could be disconcerting. Maybe it wasn’t enough to just avoid the Big Seven (if you know all seven, you are probably an older Catholic).

Full editorial
Desperate times in Israel and Gaza

The situation between Israel and the occupied territories goes from bad to worse. Consider recent events there: An Israeli assault in Gaza in early March killed an estimated 120 people, about half of them civilians. An Arab gunman attacked the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem and killed eight seminary students. Shortly after, on March 9, Israel announced plans to build hundreds of new homes in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Meanwhile, rockets continue to be fired into Israel from the Gaza Strip, where living conditions for the Palestinian population are worsening under the impact of the Israeli embargo. And in Washington, the Bush administration is asking Congress for a 9 percent increase in military aid to Israel that will be used to help Israel sustain its occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Full editorial
Quotable & Notable

“I’m in hot water again.”

-- Admiral William Fallon telling writer Thomas P.M. Barnett that the White House was displeased, again, with his penchant for diplomacy before talk of war. Fallon resigned as head of U.S. Central Command, shortly after Barnett’s Esquire article was published.

More quotes

Colman McCarthy

A conservative with wit and style
One of a kind, William F. Buckley Jr. was a one-man show who for six decades relished one-upping the left. Whether in print, on television, from lecture podia or in salons where he and his rightist acolytes sipped port, he did it with grace and glee. Liberals, half-seduced by his charm and fully awed by the breadth of his mind, took to him as their favorite conservative. Not that the competition was heavy.

Full story
Nation -- Analysis
Christian political agenda: broadening or splintering?

By Michael Humphrey
As their presidential nomination process wrapped up in early March, Republicans appeared to be a fiancée with some doubts. Unlike the Democrats, GOPers made their commitment: For better or worse, it’s going to be Sen. John McCain. But they keep nervously playing with the engagement ring. Was he really the one? Christian conservatives are a key element of that doubt.

Full story
St. Louis archbishop moves to have priest laicized

By NCR Staff
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke is moving to have Fr. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, removed from the priesthood.

Full story
Church paid $615 million on abuse claims in 2007

By Religion News Service
The U.S. Catholic church paid out $615 million in costs related to sexual abuse claims in 2007, even as the number of victims coming forward fell for the third straight year, according to an annual report issued March 7 by the U.S. bishops’ conference.

Full story
The pitfalls of shrouded finances

By Bill Frogameni
Santiago “Charlie” Feliciano spent two decades working as an in-house lawyer for the Cleveland diocese. When he finally left in 2000, he had been the general counsel, Bishop Anthony Pilla’s main legal adviser, for 16 years. Feliciano held one of the top posts in the diocese’s Financial and Legal Office. Yet, talk to Feliciano and he’ll tell you how large swaths of diocesan finance remained a mystery to him.

Full story 
Roundtable recommends fiscal standards for church

By Bill Frogameni
The eruption of the clerical abuse scandal in 2002 brought an unprecedented level of scrutiny to how the Catholic church operates. One result was the much-needed purge of abusive priests. The greatest legacy, however, may be the widespread recognition that the scandal was largely the result of a lack of transparency that affects so many other levels of the church’s operations, especially finances.

Full story
Wrong language renders baptism null

By Rich Heffern
Gender-neutral words mean sacrament must be redone, Vatican says.

Full story
Inside NCR

Rita Larivee


Two giants of the church
Recorded in this issue is a conversation that took place July 16, 2003, between two towering figures of the 20th-century Catholic church, Jesuit theologian Fr. Jacques Dupuis and Cardinal Franz König, shortly before their deaths. König, former archbishop of Vienna, had been the only cardinal to publicly defend Dupuis when his writings fell under Vatican scrutiny.

Full story

The crosses of Christ

By Leo J. O'Donovan
For anyone to whom God’s Spirit reveals the Word incarnate among us, there is but one full and final way to life. Jesus of Nazareth’s sayings and parables seem immediately illuminating. His healing, inclusive way with people draws you directly to him. You long to imitate his balance of private prayer and vivid presence to others. In the witness of the Gospels, he is both modest and commanding -- majestic in fact. His understanding of power and his loving union with the poor transcend all our usual models of authority and prestige.

Full story
My personal invisible rabbit

By Christopher de Vinck
There is an old British superstition that on the first day of the month, if you wake up and say, first thing, “Rabbit, Rabbit” you will be granted good luck for the next 30 days. If you forget to say the magical word, and if you still wish to retain the promise of good fortune, you can repeat the word backwards, “Tibbar, Tibbar,” and still keep yourself in the loop of luck.

Full story
Confronting white privilege

By Tom Roberts
Can today's politics shift the balance?

Full story 
The need to beat somebody up

By Raymond A. Schroth
PBS offers an in-depth look at 'Bush's War.'

Full story
Complex stories

By Kevin Doherty and Joseph Cunneen
'The Counterfeiters' offers powerful drama; 'Definitely, Maybe' is a charming romance; 'La Vie en Rose' Oscar's biggest surprise.

Full review
Jesus through Anne Rice's eyes

Reviewed by Benedicta Cipolla

Full review
 Letters to the Editor

Letters for March 21, 2008

Classifieds for March 21, 2008

News Briefs for March 21, 2008

People for March 21, 2008

Last Words
'We've come 2,000 years, and you can still sit at his feet and hear him speak and feel his hand, maybe, touch your shoulder. He survives it all.'

-- Anne Rice

A memorable quote from this week's issue.

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