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Inside NCR

NCR takes a second look at poverty

Once again we are at that time of year when NCR readers wonder if we’ve forgotten them. Next week there’s no NCR -- we start the skip-a-week summer schedule until mid-August.

The scheme behind publishing every other week is that it permits you to take to the beach (or one of those NCR Summer Listings venues) all those NCRs you never got to or want to look at a second time.

Meanwhile, NCR continues to take a second look of its own at poverty when the economy is booming. We’re not fixated on it. We’re trying to bring balance back by showing where people are not doing well even though the stock market and the software billionaires are.

As Andrew Cuomo said recently, if you can’t fix the problems of poor cities and poor people when the economy is doing well, when can you fix them?

Cuomo, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, compiled “Places Left Behind in the New Economy.” Among all the tables is a stunning revelation -- the number of U.S. cities where almost a third of the population is living in poverty.

This, of course, is all part of NCR’s continuing use of Michael Harrington’s The Other America idea. Not as a simple reminder of a book gone by, but as a genuine call to action and change.

Catholics are a fair people -- they never speak well of one another. It seems that the Lincoln, Neb., chancellor has poked his nose across the diocesan boundary to tell a Benedictine abbot he doesn’t like the abbot’s guest list (see page 6). Ah yes, Lincoln. Well, as someone once said -- and it wasn’t Dr. Johnson, from whom we poached the opening line (though he said it about the Irish) -- “Too nice an inquisition should not be made into opinions that are dying away by themselves.” (OK, it was Edmund Burke said it.)

And you read it here first. Breaking news. Back to NCR’s Other America fixation. When we did that cover story on “Welfare to work doesn’t work” (NCR April 30), it was based on a study by Network, the Catholic social justice lobby.

U.S. Sen. Paul Wellstone, D-Minn, saw the same study and introduced an amendment in the Senate May 25 to track what happens to people dropped from welfare roles.

His amendment lost by one vote. A “very angry” Wellstone, quoting Network all the while, said he’d reintroduce the amendment attached to the next available vehicle.

Good for him.

This week’s cover story on the Northwest bishops’ pastoral on environmental issues is an encouraging sign of vital Catholic leadership. It is not only the issues the bishops are tackling but the method they are using -- wide consultation -- that gives hope that the church can bring a moral voice to environmental concerns. To see a full text of the bishops’ document and additional information, including expert testimony at listening sessions around the diocese, visit the following Web site: www.columbiariver.org

A number of readers, reacting to our May 21 cover story, “Iraq: Killing it softly with sanctions,” have asked how to get in touch with Voices in the Wilderness. The group is headquartered at 1460 W. Carmen Ave., Chicago IL 60640; phone: (773) 784-8065. Web site: www.nonviolence.org/vitw/

-- The Editors

Michaell Farrell is on vacation.

National Catholic Reporter, June 4, 1999