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Issue of May 9,2003

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This Week’s Edition:   May 9, 2003 Vol. 39, No. 27
Cover Story
The lost heritage of Iraq

By Michael Patrick O'Connor and Sidney H. Griffith
Baghdad looting destroys archeological connections to cradle of civilization, Old Testament and early Christian history.

The transition from war to emerging peace in Iraq has been in some respects a disaster.

Important parts of the country’s heritage were plundered or destroyed in the chaos that followed the collapse of the Baathist regime in Baghdad April 9, and the destruction of cultural property seems to be continuing. ...

 Full story  

Three turbulent years of diplomacy

By John L. Allen Jr.
Vatican-Israel chill will not break ties, ambassador says.

Against the backdrop of yet another much-anticipated Middle East peace initiative, Israel’s outgoing ambassador to the Holy See granted NCR an exclusive April 30 interview reviewing his three years at the heart of the relationship between Israel and the Vatican, and between Catholicism and Judaism.

Full story

Bishop calls on government to stop human trafficking

By Catholic News Service

An Indonesian bishop said he wants the government to stop the trafficking of women and children in the diocese amid reports that the crime was increasing. Bishop Agustinus Agus of Sintang said trafficking has increased in his diocese and in the neighboring Pontianak archdiocese and Sanggau diocese. All three are in West Kalimantan province, which borders Malaysia on Borneo Island. The bishop cited recent local reports about a rampant trade in babies and women in Sarawak.

Full story

Analysis: Elections bring 'same old thing' -- for now

By Margaret Hebblethwaite
Santa María de Fe, Paraguay

Paraguay’s ruling party keeps grip on power, but there is cause for hope.

It seems to have escaped the notice of the world’s press that April 27 was the Paraguayan general election. Paraguay’s neighbor, Argentina, had an election on the same day. The two countries are covered by the same correspondents and they could not be in two places at once. But Paraguay is always the forgotten country.

Full story

Santorum's remarks draw both affirmation, criticism from Catholics

By Gill Donovan
Comments by Republican Sen. Rick Santorum linking “homosexual acts” with incest, adultery, bigamy and polygamy have divided some elements of the Republican Party, and led leading Democrats to call for Santorum to step down as chairman of the Republican Conference, one of the three highest leadership positions held by Senate Republicans. NCR found opinion on the remarks among some Catholic leaders to be equally wide-ranging.

Full story

Political Cartoon
NCR Editorials

Unfortunately, Santorum, Vatican in step

Some defenders of Sen. Rick Santorum -- the Catholic League for Civil and Religious Rights and National Review’s Kate O’Beirne among them -- argue that the Pennsylvania senator’s provocative comments on the legal rights of gays mirror authoritative Catholic teaching.

Regrettably, they’re right.

Full editorial

The empire rolls back

To the nearly 10,000 residents of Vieques, Puerto Rico, May 1 was a day of liberation.

For more than 50 years, Vieques was used by the U.S. Navy for bombing practice and training, resulting in all manner of catastrophe, from environmental degradation and disease to displacement of many families who called the island off the Puerto Rican mainland home.

The Navy finally abandoned the outpost following decades of protest.

Full editorial
Demetria Martinez

High stakes gambling in the grocery aisles

Each item in the cart can add and subtract years from my life.

It’s tax day. I should be worrying about what I reported or failed to report. Instead I’m consumed by thoughts of leafy greens as I head toward the produce department at Smith’s supermarket.

Full story

Robert F. Drinan

South Africa's historic commission sets model for national healing

On March 21 Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission he chaired ended their work of more than seven years by presenting their findings and recommendations to South African President Thabo Mbeki. This monumental development in international law has been replicated in some 15 nations and might well have created a model for the conduct of countries at the end of a civil war or a period of occupation.

Full story

Viewpoint & Opinion
A school is looted, a song of peace lingers

By Kathy Kelly
Pacific News Service

On a recent morning, as nurses dug graves in front of the Al Mansour Hospital, Baghdad University lay in ruins and the Red Cross warned that the city’s medical system was collapsing, two musicians from this wounded city came to our hotel room.

Majid Al-Ghazali and Hisham Sharaf hoped to call relatives outside Iraq on our satellite phone. Hisham’s home was badly damaged during the war. “One month ago, I was the director of the Baghdad Symphony Orchestra,” Hisham said with an ironic smile. “Now what am I?”

Full story

Inside NCR

Tom Roberts


Sometime in the late 1980s, if memory serves, I was in an office in midtown Manhattan at the news service where I worked when a courier delivered a few sheets of paper to my door and asked for some sum under $5 for the service. Under $5 for just about anything in Manhattan is a bargain. This was no exception. The papers contained a story from our correspondent in Israel. The story, I later learned, had somehow hopped about in the ether from a computer in Jerusalem to computers somewhere in Europe and finally to New York. It was an early form of e-mail. The Internet was about to burst on the scene.

Full story

Starting Point

The God of flesh and fingers

By Jan Pilarski
Was there anything more comforting, more indulging than my mother’s every-other-day ritual of sudsing and rinsing my hair when I was a little girl? I remember perching on a stool, my head bobbing up from a basin filled with tepid water, her hands massaging my scalp with a mixture of purpose and pleasure. On days when she was not rushed, she would let me experiment by spiking and plying foam into imaginative hairstyles, too exotic for everyday wear.

Full story

Special Insert

By Dennis Coday
NCR launches its next generation Web presence.

Quietly, somewhat unnoticed, in the wee early hours of April 4, big changes came to the Web site that the National Catholic Reporter has maintained since 1996.

Full story

See what you've missed

By Dennis Coday
You may have missed the Web site relaunch April 4, but you don’t have to miss any of the Web exclusives we have posted since then. Everything is saved in the archives on Here are some of the Web exclusives that have appeared since April 4...

Full story

 Letters to the Editor

Letters for May 9, 2003

  Classifieds for May 9, 2003  
Briefs World & Nation / Addenda

News Briefs for May 9, 2003

Addenda for May 9, 2003

SCOTT ALLEN HAIN, 32, was executed in Oklahoma April 3. DON WILSON HAWKINS, 43, was executed in Oklahoma April 8. EARL C. BRAMBLETT, 61, was executed in Virginia April 9. LARRY KENNETH JACKSON, 40, was executed in Oklahoma April 17. JUAN CHAVEZ, 34, was executed in Texas April 22. GARY BROWN, 44, was executed in Alabama April 24. Brown was the 848th person executed in the United States since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976.

We ask prayers for the victims of the crimes that may have been committed by those listed here, for those executed and for those participating in executions done in our names.

Last Words
'The other parties don't give food. All they have to give is honesty. And you cannot eat honesty. ... So we eat today, and then for the next five years we suffer.'
 Paraguayan voters

A memorable quote from this week's issue.
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