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Issue Date:  October 14, 2005

From the Editor's Desk

Across the boundaries

Writing honestly about religion today, and that certainly includes Catholicism, means dealing with corruption, the effects of crime, deep divisions, dysfunctional institutions, ineffective leaders and dazed -- and in the worst cases -- bloodied believers. And those conditions exist across denominational and faith boundaries.

Those same conditions, however, can generate examples of great courage and compassion, of the pursuit of holiness and reconciliation, of institutional integrity and the persistent search for justice. Those things, too, exist across all the boundaries.

They apparently exist in abundance in Taizé, where violence so recently robbed the ecumenical community of its leader, Br. Roger Schutz. NCR Vatican writer John L. Allen Jr. recently visited Taizé and filed the report/reflection that appears in this issue. (See story)

Sit quietly with it somewhere and savor the sense of the place, the sophisticated simplicity of its approach to the Christian message. If you are like me, you’ll want to schedule a trip to France, and maybe you’ll ache, too, at the memory of a pope who said of Catholicism: “The church is constituted by a series of concentric circles, and they must always become larger, larger.”

~ ~ ~

In a rare departure from our normal requirement, we have allowed a person to speak anonymously in our pages. In this case, a gay priest talks about what he perceives would be the effect of a Vatican document prohibiting gays from being ordained (see story).

I wish he had let us use his name, as I wish other gay priests would go public, but I also know why they can’t. They fear for their vocations. It’s a strange matter, to say the least, to give your life to a church that tells you, midstream, that it really doesn’t want you. Odder still, of course, when one knows that so many not only in normal priestly ministry but also in positions of leadership are in the same fix. This is a strange time, indeed. So we thought the importance of hearing from a gay priest who takes his ministry seriously overrode the normal obligation to disclose the identity of someone given such prominence in our pages.

~ ~ ~

Some of you have written or called asking for more methodological information on the survey of U.S. Catholics that appeared in the Sept. 30 issue. We asked the team of researchers to supply additional info and they have. It appears, along with two corrections to charts that appeared in that issue, (see story).

The response to the survey has been greater than expected. We quickly ran out of the extra issues that we had printed. People are using the material for classes and study groups, and some priests are making sure their parishioners have access to the information.

We’re printing extra copies of the pullout section containing the survey, and they can be obtained by calling Jo Ann Schierhoff at (800) 444-8910, ext. 2239.

This might be a good point to say a final thank you to all those who helped us achieve the goal of 2,000 new subscriptions by summer’s end. As you might have noticed in an ad in last week’s issue, that goal has been reached. That number of new subscriptions is no small matter for us. Every bit of support is essential, especially introducing new readers to the paper.

So, take a bow. Your efforts are greatly appreciated.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, October 14, 2005

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