National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly

Issue of May 2, 2003

For articles not available in the back issue section,
you may search the NCR archives.

Also, while the majority of our stories are available at no cost,
due to copyright restrictions, some of our stories are
available as premium content open only to subscribers.

Thank you for visiting our Web site.  We are pleased to
be able to make this service available to you.

Denotes premium content that is restricted to subscribers.
This Web site is best viewed with Explorer 6.0 and higher or Netscape 4.7 and higher.
This Week’s Edition:   May 2, 2003 Vol. 39, No. 26
Cover Story
locked up

By Patricia Lefevere
Activists mark 30 years of struggle to reform criminal justice system in face of prison expansion.

Thirty years is not a life sentence. But for 30 years Charles and Pauline Sullivan have devoted their days to reforming the criminal justice system, in Texas and across the nation.

The couple founded Texas CURE -- Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants -- in 1972.

Full story

Ex-felon proposes ‘new way’ for prisons

By Patricia Lefevere
Lawyer James Hamm thinks of the U.S. prison system as a sock turned inside out. He wants to turn it right side out.

American prisons are defective and dysfunctional, he said. They’re run on economies of scale that produce recidivism. The system is unable to handle large numbers of unmotivated offenders and lacks the “brains and resources” to control prison gangs and institutional violence. It operates on an “extremely limited” mission statement: Keep them in until they’ve done their time, then turn them loose, he said.
Full story


Secretary balances Catholicism, policy

By John L. Allen Jr.
Bush’s man acknowledges ‘deviations“ from church teaching.

One of the most senior Roman Catholics in the Bush administration says that despite a recent Vatican document insisting that Catholic politicians must align their policy choices with church doctrine, he can’t do his job “by solely relying on Catholic teachings.”

Full story

Traditionalists deny rumors of reconciliation

By John L. Allen Jr.
Rumors over Easter weekend concerning a “reconciliation” with the church of three of the four bishops ordained illicitly by traditionalist Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1988 and the Vatican are false, according to two of the bishops.

Lefebvre’s Society of St. Pius X rejects the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), along with its teaching on ecumenism, interfaith relations and religious liberty. The society is headquartered in Menzingen, Switzerland, and numbers 360 priests, 50 brothers, 120 sisters and 53 oblate sisters, living in 140 houses in 27 countries.

Full story

South Africa’s rural poor inspire work of Belgian priest-artist

By Robin Gallaher Branch
Catholic News Service
A Belgian priest and artist who has worked in South Africa since 1966 said the country’s rural poor have inspired his work.

“I am very much attracted to rural life,” said Oblate Fr. Wilfried Joye, 63, an expressionist painter whose large oils depict religious themes and daily life in South Africa’s townships and countryside.

Full story

Peace push pervades at Easter

By John L. Allen Jr.
Experts reflect on legacy of pope’s stand against Iraq war.

Fallout from the Iraq war lent an unusually political subtext to Holy Week in Rome, with fresh declarations on the conflict from Pope John Paul II, and continuing reflection on just what the legacy of his peace initiative will be.

Full story

NCR Editorial
A year later, sex abuse storm could bring changes
A year ago, the country’s attention was riveted on the Catholic bishops, the plight of the victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy and the plans to deal with the crisis at an upcoming meeting in Dallas.

The meeting was a media madhouse, the cameras catching the bishops trying their best to convey accountability and approving a charter that was as severe and absolute in dealing with accused priests as the bishops had been lax and irresponsible in the preceding decades.

Full editorial

Rosemary Ruether

Protest ordinations neglect community

At a recent Call to Action conference in Northern California I was asked about how I thought women’s ordination would happen. I made my usual joke about not wanting any bishops to “lay hands” on me. More seriously, I suggested that the very lack of adequate numbers and quality of priests in the Catholic church meant that more and more of the ministry is being done by theologically educated lay people, mostly women. This is giving Catholics increasing experience of good ministry coming from women. Many bishops would like to ordain these women, but are prevented from doing so by church policy. But I suspect that, as this continues, there will be a breakthrough at the top to change the present exclusion. This change, like most change in the church, will come from the bottom up.

Full story

Rich Heffern

Spirit in a world of connection

For Navajos, spirituality is tightly woven with everyday life, and laughter is a sign of holiness.

Tony Hillerman is the top mystery writer in America today. His success comes from a series of novels featuring the Native American police detectives Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn working on the huge Navajo reservation that covers parts of Arizona and New Mexico. The 15th in the series, The Wailing Wind, was published early this year.

Full story

Viewpoint & Opinion

We’re not a Christian country

By Jim O'Leary
Mark Twain was poking fun at religion with his “War Prayer.”

“O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire. ... We ask it in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the source of love.”

Full story

As filming ends, ‘Passion’ strikes some nerves

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service
The Jerusalem and Garden of Gethsemane sets were dismantled at Rome’s Cinecitta Film Studios in late March, but the talk about Mel Gibson’s upcoming film, “The Passion,” did not stop.

The film focuses on the last 12 hours of Jesus’ life and, not surprisingly, struck some nerves, particularly because of its graphic violence and concern over how the Jews will be portrayed.

Full story

Inside NCR

Tom Roberts


As Iraq stands between liberation and whatever the future holds, the complexity of not only that country but also the region begins to show itself. Shiite marches to the holy city of Karbala are said to provide diversion, if unintentionally, from Iranian agents infiltrating to influence the political process to serve Iranian interests that, in this case, have little to do with democracy. The oil is said to have begun flowing in the South, but who will control it? And who, ultimately, will be in charge of the country? Clerics are jockeying for position at the top of the political heap, but so are interests from the outside, including Iraqis who have been in exile and now want to run the country.

Full story

Starting Point

A door on the second floor

 By James Stephen Behrens
Two men delivered my furniture and I liked them a lot. I never got their names and feel bad about that now but I shook their hands and offered them a Coke before they started to move the furniture. I ordered a lot of furniture and they said it was the largest delivery of their day. And then they said that they did not know that I lived on the second floor. They smiled at each other and told me that happens a lot. The man at the store where I bought my furniture did not ask me what he was supposed to ask about the heights at which I am now living. And I did not think to tell him all on my own. It did not seem relevant to me at the time.

Full story


Lessons for future in Iraq’s tragic history
By Charles Tripp
Cambridge University Press, 350 pages, $14
By Marion Farouk-Sluglett and Peter Sluglett
I.B. Tauris, 364 pages, $29.98

Reviewed by Faith J. Childress
As the United States shifts its focus in Iraq from invasion to rebuilding infrastructure and filling the political vacuum left by the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime, now is an opportune time to catch up on the history of colonialism and authoritarian rule that typifies Iraq’s political history. Charles Tripp’s second edition of A History of Iraq is the most recent (2002) and Peter Sluglett’s third edition of Iraq Since 1958: From Revolution to Dictatorship -- coauthored with the late Marion Farouk-Sluglett -- was published in 2001.While both volumes are readable, detailed and updated, readers who want a general overview of Iraqi history will find A History of Iraq the better choice. Iraq Since 1958, on the other hand, is an excellent volume for readers who are interested in the role of communism in Iraq and who want a more detailed account of the rise of the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein’s regime.

Full story


Poetry for May 2, 2003
 Letters to the Editor

Letters for May 2, 2003

  Classifieds for May 2, 2003

  Summer Listings II
Briefs World & Nation

News Briefs for May 2, 2003


In the April 11 NCR, a photo in an Addenda item identified as retired Norwich, Conn., Bishop Daniel Hart was actually that of retired Bishop Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, Wyo.


Last Words
'Humor is a side effect of living deeply. Are applicants to Catholic seminaries ever checked for a funny bone?'
 Rich Heffern

A memorable quote from this week's issue.
Copyright © The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company
115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO   64111 (TEL 1-816-531-0538  FAX 1-816-968-2268)
Send comments about this Web site to:   PRIVACY POLICY