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Issue Date:  March 19, 2004

From the Editor's Desk

We almost took a break

Last week, patient readers, we gave you a rather large dose of coverage of the sexual abuse crisis because of the release of the reports by the National Review Board. This week, we tried to take a break from it, but when the police raided the residence of Bishop Thomas L. Dupre in Springfield, Mass., and developments continued in the case of Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., we couldn’t ignore it.

A significant difference in the two cases bears notice at this point, without judging the merits of either. In the Springfield case, Dupre, once confronted by the local newspaper regarding allegations from two accusers, disappeared without comment and is now in treatment (see story). Hubbard, on the other hand, faced accusations, as our story notes, from “a pair of ghosts and a former prostitute” in league with a group that has been after Hubbard for years. He did not disappear but instead issued an unqualified and absolute denial of the charges (see story). We’ll keep you informed.

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Perhaps the next bit fits well under the umbrella “Turnabout is fair play.” The United States often sends delegations overseas, particularly to developing countries, to monitor elections. We’re the ones who know democracy. So it caught not only our attention but that of the governor of Florida when Pax Christi USA, the national Catholic peace movement, announced that it would be bringing international election monitors to Florida to monitor the presidential election there in November.

“We believe it is imperative that nonpartisan organizations commit resources to ensuring that this election does not result in controversy similar to what we witnessed in 2000,” said David Robinson, executive director of Pax Christi USA, a section of Pax Christi International.

Gov. Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush, responded, “This is all part of some politically motivated thing that tries to scare people to somehow think their vote is not going to count. That’s hogwash, hogwash,” according to a Pax Christi release.

Several Florida counties were cited for improprieties during the 2000 elections by the U.S Commission on Civil Rights. Pax Christi plans to deploy monitoring teams in four precincts: Miami/Dade, Palm Beach, Broward and Duval.

“It was our great hope that Gov. Bush would welcome the monitoring of the elections,” said Carol Ann Breyer, state coordinator for Pax Christi Florida. “This is an excellent opportunity to show that the mistakes of the past have been corrected.”

Eight months to go.

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I have not yet seen “The Passion of the Christ” since I don’t do well with wide-screen gore. But I think I’ll assign myself the Lenten penance of squinting my way through this one. That said, I remain fascinated by the amount and level of discussion spawned by the film. Say what you want about Mel Gibson’s motives and theology, his work has ignited a culture-wide conversation on some significant themes. There’s no better evidence of the phenomenon than on our own Pages 21 and 22. Imagine a small table, a pitcher of whatever is your preference and a talk long into the night with these three observers. It’s happening everywhere and the range of opinions seem limitless. A film could do worse.

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One final note: I call your attention to Pat Morrison’s Perspective (see story), which she also uses as an occasion to bid us and her readers farewell. We at NCR wish her well in her pursuit of a longtime dream. You will encounter her writing in our pages from time to time in the future.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, March 19, 2004

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