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Issue of April 25,2003

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This Weeks Edition:   April 25, 2003
Cover Story
Priestly identity in church’s time of darkness

By Gill Donovan
Common Ground conference examines challenges of ‘icon of Christ’ in crisis.

In an explanation of the importance clergy hold in the lives of Catholics, Fr. R.J. Cletus Kiley said, “It seems to me that most priests have had the experience of the smallest child in the parish coming up to him and saying, ‘Are you God?’ ”

Full story

Initiative battles misperceptions as it strives for dialogue

By Gill Donovan
For Msgr. Philip Murnion, the cost of seeking common ground in the U.S. Catholic church has been high.

With Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, Murnion co-sponsored the Catholic Common Ground initiative in 1996. Following Bernardin’s death from cancer in November of that year, Murnion has headed the initiative, which has sponsored an annual conference since spring 1997 in which Catholics meet to exchange ideas.

Full story
Church in Crisis

Police officer holds Holy Week fast for release of records

Arthur Jones
This Holy Week was special here because it was the first celebrated by Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony in his new cathedral. It may become a memorable week, too, for what happened outside.

On the Temple Street sidewalk, Manuel Vega, a 36-year-old Oxnard, Calif., police officer, was committed to a 24/7 Holy Week bread-and-water fast to urge Mahony to release all the internal archdiocesan files on priests. Vega, as an altar boy, was sexually abused by a priest who has since fled to Mexico.

Full story

Battling the ‘bunker mentality’

By Arthur Jones
Legislator; lawyer work to give victims day in California’s courts.

“This man is the reason we just got that legislation through,” said California State Sen. Joe Dunn, acknowledging police officer Manuel Vega.

Vega -- doing his bread-and-water Holy Week fast outside the Los Angeles cathedral in an attempt to convince Cardinal Roger Mahony to release all the internal archdiocesan files on priests -- had testified in Sacramento.

Full story

Southern California sees face further budget cuts

By Arthur Jones
Citing the economic downturn as the cause, the hard-hit Los Angeles Catholic archdiocese and the Orange diocese are in the throes of budget cutting for the fiscal year ahead. The Los Angeles Times reported April 11 that Orange diocese’s earnings from investments had dropped from $26 million in 1999-2000 to zero in 2002.

Full story


Steinfels couple to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal

Catholic commentators Peter and Margaret O’Brien Steinfels will receive the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal for 2003 during the university’s commencement exercises May 18.

The award, which Notre Dame calls the oldest and most prestigious honor given to American Catholics, was announced March 28, two days before Laetare Sunday, for which it is named.

Full story

Counterterrorism experts say new immigration controls not much help

By Patricia Zapor
Catholic News Service

Former FBI and CIA counterterrorism experts said April 3 that most of the immigration restrictions imposed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks have done little to improve national security and wouldn’t have kept any of the men implicated in those attacks from entering the United States.

Full story

Analysis: the church’s legacy of misogyny

By Gary Macy 
Scholar unearths medieval thought behind discrimination.

Dr. Ida Raming is perhaps best known in the United States as one of the seven women illicitly ordained to priesthood on June 29, 2002, and then soon after excommunicated by the Catholic church for refusing to recant that ordination. In Europe, Raming (see related story) has long been recognized as a pioneer of the women’s ordination movement.

Full story

Ida Raming: Pioneer in women’s ordination movement

By Teresa Malcolm 
Even before German theologian Ida Raming, 71, was ordained with seven other women in June of last year, she was known as a pioneer of the women’s ordination movement in the Catholic church. Together with Iris Müller, Raming published a submission to the Second Vatican Council in 1963, challenging the all-male priesthood.

Full story

NCR Editorial
Standing up to tax charlatans

There are a lot of Americans, Democrats among them, who should be standing up cheering for two Republicans right about now.

They are Sens. Olympia J. Snowe of Maine and George V. Voinovich of Ohio, who, under enormous pressure from their party leaders (and along with Democrats in the Senate) stood firm and reduced the latest push for irresponsible tax cuts by more than half.

Full editorial

NCR Editorial: Perspective

Commencement time’s big name business

By Arthur Jones
There was a buzz around Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles recently that there might be an honorary doctorate for actor Mel Gibson come commencement time.

He’d be a delightfully controversial selection for a Catholic university for several reasons, not least that he’s currently building a 600-seat Tridentine church in Malibu, Calif. (His latest, self-funded, $25 million movie, “Passion” -- the story of Christ’s Passion with dialogue in Aramaic and Latin, no subtitles -- promises to generate interest among the clinically curious plus develop a cult following of some sort.)

Full story

 Colman McCarthy

Militarists rule on TV news

The networks offer ex-brass a new revolving door.

Here are a few of the retired soldiers appearing on network television offering analysis and commentary on the combat in Iraq: Lt. Gen. Bernard Trainor, Maj. Gen. Robert Scales, Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold, Maj. Gen. Don Shepperd, Gen. Barry McCaffery, Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, Lt. Gen. Don Edwards, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerny, Col. Tony Koren, Lt. Col. Rick Francona, Maj. Jack Stradley and Capt. Chris Lohman.

Full story

Demetria Martinez

Tune the ear, untwist the tongue and make a Latino connection

It’s official: Latinos are now the largest minority in the United States. At 37 million we have exceeded the numbers of African-Americans, according to Census Bureau data released in January.

How will the white majority of U.S. citizens digest the news? Only two weeks before the bureau published the data, a white woman in Phoenix looked me straight in the eye as she picked at her lettuce, which was served to her by a Latino (and no doubt picked by one), and said, “It’s turning into Mexico here.”

 Full story

Viewpoint & Opinion

Mystery on the night train

Antonia Gustaitis
Pacific News Service
Reading the papers with their powerful images of the war in Iraq these days, I had almost forgotten about the frightening developments now taking place in this country in the name of “homeland security.” But this morning my eyes fell on an item: “Terrorism Task Force Detains American Without Charges.” Then the experience I had on the train came back to me.

Full story

Ali Ismaeel Abbas longs for his arms 

By David Krieger
We don’t view war in the right way. Our television networks discuss strategy and show pictures of bombings, artillery fire and advancing troops. Rarely do they show pictures of the victims, and particularly of the children who are killed, maimed and orphaned. But war is about children as well as about soldiers and strategy. Take, for example, the story of Ali Ismaeel Abbas.

Full story

Encyclical reflects on Eucharist, warns of abuses

By John L. Allen Jr.
Aiming to rekindle Catholic “amazement” over the Eucharist, as well as to “banish dark clouds of unacceptable doctrine and practice,” John Paul II on Holy Thursday devoted the 14th encyclical of his pontificate to the Eucharist and its relationship to the church.

Full story

Bishops’ pilgrimage offers symbol of unity 

By John L. Allen Jr.
Aiming to offer a symbol of unity and peace in a time of war, three Christian bishops from San Francisco -- Greek Orthodox, Episcopal and Roman Catholic -- moved across Europe in early April on an unusual ecumenical pilgrimage.

Full story

Christians, Muslims fear Iraq war’s religious impact

By Elaine Ruth Fletcher
Religion News Service

People in Baghdad may have danced in the streets over the fall of Saddam Hussein, but here in another corner of the Middle East, Muslim and Christian Palestinians are reacting very differently to the rapid course of the U.S. victory over Iraq.

Full story


Inside NCR

Tom Roberts


Not long ago, I had the first two pages of the first issue of NCR (Oct. 28, 1964) copied and mounted. They’re still waiting to be framed and hung on my office walls.

The significance of those two pages came home last week when I heard of the death of NCR founder Robert G. Hoyt (see appreciation, click here).

Back in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Hoyt had a daring if straightforward dream: to bring good, independent reporting to coverage of the Catholic church. He gave us our intellectual DNA and our marching orders.

Full story


Robert Hoyt, NCR founder, dies at 81


By Tom Roberts 
Sparked change in Catholic press by vigorous reporting.

National Catholic Reporter founder Robert G. Hoyt, who brought the professional standards of secular journalism to coverage of the Catholic church, died of a heart attack April 10 in Manhattan. He was 81.

Full story

Starting Point

The diary of Ida Blatto



By James Stephen Behrens
I used to go to used bookstores and rummage sales, looking for old diaries and photograph books. I wondered how such treasures ended up in places like that, being sold to strangers like me when they should have been kept in the family.

Full story


Women leaders under the cross and crescent

By Heidi Schlumpf
Muslim and Christian women explore female leadership in their faith traditions.

Talk about timing. Just hours before the first bombs fell on Baghdad in the Second Gulf War, a group of Muslim and Christian men and women gathered to imagine how the world might be different if leadership in churches, mosques and society were more open to women.

Full story

Hospitality helps open doors to interfaith dialogue

By Heidi Schlumpf
The signs in the bathroom stalls were the first clue something was going on at Catholic Theological Union. Worried that the seminary students might wonder about the watering cans that suddenly appeared in their restrooms, organizers posted signs explaining they were for Muslim ritual washings, or wudu in Arabic.

Full story

At war

Church leaders’ antiwar message fails in the pews

By Mark O'Keefe
Religion News Service
It has been called organized religion’s most unified antiwar stance since the latter days of the Vietnam conflict.

But public opinion polls show the spiritual movement opposing war in Iraq has had little impact on churchgoers, much less on the American public, both of which overwhelmingly support both the U.S.-led invasion and President Bush.

Leaders of mainline Protestant denominations, including the Episcopal church, the United Church of Christ and the United Methodist church, opposed war, and Pope John Paul II worked passionately against it.

Full story

Prayer in a time of War
Different Approach Needed


By Leslie Lund

O my Sisters in Christ, help me beg these things of the Lord. This is why he has gathered you together here. This is your vocation. These must be the business matters you are engaged in. These must be the things you desire; the things you weep about. These must be the objects of your petitions.

Full story
 Letters to the Editor

Letters for April 25, 2003  

  Classifieds for April 25, 2003  
Briefs World & Nation

News Briefs for April 25, 2003


In the April 18 issue of NCR, the second paragraph of Michael Welch's opinion article "Patriotism is not the highest calling," is a quotation from a book (The Vietnam Wars: 1945-1990 by Marilyn B. Young) he cited in the first paragraph and should have been set inside quotation marks.

Last Words

"One does not acquire a language like a wardrobe. Instead, we must be present to others, humbly open to learning from the 'strangers' among us."

 Demetria Martinez

A memorable quote from this week's issue.

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