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Issue Date:  June 3, 2005

From the Editor's Desk

Of blue skies and gratitude

I don’t know what life has been like recently in your part of the world, but in this little region of the Midwest it is that time of year that lies beyond the threat of the last ice storm and before the threat of tornado sirens, and the days have been breathtakingly glorious.

It is that time of year when the light is almost piercingly transparent, when the air is so scrubbed the sky is blue right down to the horizon, when things awaken and critters crawl about more openly and rabbits pester the newly planted garden into which so much spring-inspired hope has been invested.

Gratitude seems as natural as breathing on days like these, even if it comes with the twinge of an ache at the fleeting beauty of it all.

~ ~ ~

News goes on, uninterrupted by one’s stroll through a garden. And so it was last week when the reports began surfacing that the Holy See had determined that no canonical action would be brought in the sexual abuse accusations against the Mexican priest Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the religious order the Legionaries of Christ.

It appeared for several days that that was the story -- investigation over, case closed.

But Jason Berry, the writer who broke the story of the sex abuse scandal in the United States and who has written an important and engaging book about Maciel, had spent time recently in Mexico interviewing people about Maciel. Those interviews included a number of people who had been recently questioned by a Vatican investigator looking into long-standing abuse charges against the priest. What Jason knew, and subsequently reported, was that there is far more to the story than one would get from either news releases or the Legionaries’ Web site. Jason was just putting the finishing touches on a story about his reporting in Mexico when the Vatican announcement broke.

Most of you know John Allen as a brilliant explainer of the sometimes confusing and inaccessible world of the Vatican. At the service of that brilliance is old-fashioned reporting, dogged pursuit of facts and details. In the case of the Maciel story, John just kept reporting and interviewing and questioning until it became clear from his vantage point that there was more to the story than the simple declarations of the Legion and even the confirmations of the Vatican press office.

We’ve spent a lot of time and space on the Maciel story, and we’ll continue to do so because it is an important story. For if the church cannot be credible and transparent about something as significant as charges of sexual abuse of children, then why should the community and the wider world listen to what it has to say about anything else?

~ ~ ~

A final word about gratitude. Last week I asked your help in a campaign to find new readers. The response has been beyond our expectations. We’ve already mailed out more than a thousand packets of promotional material to people who asked for extra envelopes. Therese Johnson, who’s been answering the phone requests, was especially struck by your enthusiasm. I wish we could take you all on as permanent marketers. In a sense you are, when you spread the word and share the paper and, in this case, make an extra push to get others to subscribe.

My deepest thanks from all of us here at the NCR Publishing Company, and particularly on behalf of the third floor editorial staff of the NCR newsweekly. We’ll do all we can to protect your investment in independent Catholic journalism.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, June 3, 2005

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