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A suggestion: Gather your small group around this week’s cover story. Marriage and holiness -- material for a good discussion.

It is easy to zero in on the objections to the beatification of Luigi and Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi. How representative can they be, one asks, if three of their kids entered religious life and they lived the last half of their lives together as “brother and sister”? Isn’t that last part, in itself, a putdown of marriage?

Could be. In the first place, though, saints are hardly representative of life as usual. Whether they should be is another matter. As others say in the stories that begin on Page 4, there are lots of heroic married people whose lives are daily parables of love and giving, and they don’t avoid sex. But they’ll never be saints in the official Vatican sense.

Still, as official saints go, it is good to have a couple recognized. I can cheer any small steps in the evolution of church thinking about marriage.

Discussions here about a story on married saints quickly led to questions about changes in the theology of marriage, and so the companion piece to the cover story.

If, indeed, your small group or community should get into a discussion, have someone take notes and report in to the e-mail address below. We’d love to be in on the conversation.

Janis Besler Heaphy is not a household name, but she has displayed more courage than most journalists in the past few months. Heaphy, publisher and president of The Sacramento Bee, gave the winter commencement address at California State University Sacramento. In it she recounted how the Bush administration has made several attempts since Sept. 11 “to manipulate the press, encouraging the press to surrender some of its independence and thoroughness in the name of patriotism and security.”

In short, she questioned the wisdom of the press agreeing to censorship measures requested by the government.

“Scrutiny by the press of this war on terrorism and publication of dissenting viewpoints are not signs of disloyalty. Rather, they are expressions of confidence in democracy and in the fulfillment of the First Amendment charge to hold government accountable.”

She noted that more than 50 percent of American citizens agreed with the government’s view that “less is more” when it comes to information on the war.

“That, ladies and gentlemen, is a dangerous mindset. When information grows scant, rumor and innuendo swell to fill the void. When the press grows timid, half-truths and rhetoric pass as facts.”

Her speech was disrupted by hecklers. To their credit university president Don Gerth apologized and then a number of students thanked Heaphy as they received their certificates of completion. Heaphy’s entire address and Gerth’s response to the heckling can be found at the university Web site, www.csus.edu

-- Tom Roberts

My e-mail address is troberts@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, December 28, 2001