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Inside NCR

When a bishop, an archbishop and a few journalists convene, it's more than virtual reality

Insiders call it "the Web." And whatever else one thinks of it, there is ample evidence it is connecting people -- Catholics included -- in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Recent local developments are a good case in point.

By way of background: Local Kansas City Catholics have witnessed an added spirit of interdiocesan cooperation and harmony between the once seemingly competing dioceses ever since the 1993 arrivals of Kansas City, Kan., Archbishop James P. Keleher and Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Raymond J. Boland.

A few weeks back, for example, the bishops jointly sponsored a soup and bread luncheon fund-raiser for the city's needy. Then, last week, members of the staffs of the two dioceses met to share information on their efforts to develop diocesan and parish Web pages for the Internet.

Roughly 10 to 15 percent of U.S. dioceses now have Web sites, using them for various purposes from providing maps for travelers looking for Sunday Masses to publishing episcopal homilies and excerpts from the local diocesan newspaper.

Also meeting with the bishops' staffs were members of NCR's staff, the gurus of our own America Online (keyword: NCR) and World Wide Web sites. All of us are relative novices on the Web with plenty to learn about cyberspace -- including how best to use the Internet without losing one's life to it.

Following a meeting and luncheon at the Kansas City-St. Joseph chancery, just a five-minute walk from NCR's own midtown building, Archbishop Keleher and Bishop Boland and staffs came to NCR to tour the building and take a look at NCR's own Web site and the computer system supporting that site. As the bishops visited the office of our new publisher Tom Fox and then toured the NCR newsroom, one could not help sensing an emerging new spirit of cooperation.

Granted that Boland cautiously remarked that he may not always agree with NCR editorials, before leaving the building both bishops offered their blessings to the gathered NCR staff, encouraging us all to continue our efforts to serve the church.

The church, which is famous for being at the cutting edge of the previous century, is nevertheless remarkably resilient and able eventually to adapt to new circumstances. Our special "Ministries" section underlines again the enormous changes taking place in the post-Vatican II era in the ways people minister to others.

The editor of this section was Dawn Gibeau, editor of Praying magazine and before that a longtime NCR staff member.

-- Michael Farrell

National Catholic Reporter, January 24, 1997