e-mail us

Inside NCR

Summer has arrived in Missouri and Kansas. It’s hot. Last night there was a hint of the kind of thunderstorms that happen only in the Midwest. I’ve seen Nor’easters rip up the Jersey Coast and seen the flooding results, farther inland, of hurricanes. But nothing I’ve experienced, weatherwise, is quite so majestic as a Midwest thunderstorm. Maybe it’s because out here you can see so much sky at one time.

I wish it were as easy to detect the currents of change afoot, to know the path, for instance, of our open-ended, ill-defined war on terror; to understand the fitful and uneven trajectory of our Mideast policy. By dribs and drabs we get the pieces of a larger picture that can seem ominous. Why is the FBI allowed to investigate library records? What other civil liberties, once assumed, are being re-engineered by Attorney General John Ashcroft? Why would a president, confronted with the frightening evidence from his own bureaucracy on the matter of global warming, tell the people essentially that we have to learn to live with it?

This is turning out to be a strange summer. In the midst of all that is going on in the wider world, the church is in crisis and I am doubtful, after spending several days in Dallas watching bishops wrestle with the sex abuse scandal, that we have seen the end of this, or even the end of the worst of it.

The hope? You see some of it in these pages week after week. Even in the darkest moments, there is evidence of incredible fidelity, of wonderful imagination and faith. If there is a glimmer of hope to come out of the current crisis it is the overwhelming evidence that this business of being church is not just a project of bishops and priests. It is essentially a community of people, all people.

Eventually the storm, even if it leaves behind some lasting damage, will move on.

Speaking of hope-filled people, I am pleased to announce the appointments to the NCR board of two new members, Melanne Verveer, former adviser to President Clinton and chief-of-staff to First Lady Hillary Clinton, and Fr. Jayson J. Landeza, pastor of St. Columba Catholic Church in Oakland, Calif.

Verveer has more than 25 years of experience in nonprofit and public service organizations. She was previously executive vice president of People for the American Way and played a key role in the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1990, the Civil Rights Restoration Act, the National and Community Service Act, the Reauthorization of the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. She once served as coordinator for urban policy and civil rights at the U.S. Catholic Conference. She currently is chair of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization dedicated to promoting women’s roles in building strong communities and nations.

Landeza, who notes in his curriculum vitae that he is of Filipino, Chinese, Hawaiian and Irish ethnicity, is pastor of a largely African- American parish. In the past he has ministered among widely diverse congregations in California. He is active in the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the National Association for Lay Ministry and the National Association of Catholic Youth Ministers. He has trained at the Xavier University, New Orleans, Institute for Black Catholic Studies, serves as chaplain to a number of public agencies and retains membership on a host of civic and church-related boards in the Oakland area.

-- Tom Roberts

My e-mail address is troberts@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, July 5, 2002