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Issue Date:  September 15, 2006

From the Editor's Desk

Read the record on Iraq

I witnessed an honest, unrehearsed moment in TV news this morning. A reporter for CNN was having one of those chats with an anchor (are they news conversations?) that have become the way of electronic reporting. The anchor was asking questions and the fellow in Baghdad was answering. I don’t have a transcript and wasn’t taking notes, so I can’t quote. But at one point, the anchor asked the correspondent how people in Iraq were reacting to the spate of recent speeches by President Bush on the war on terror and his renewed emphasis on Iraq as the epicenter of terrorist activity. The correspondent responded that Iraqis he had just interviewed for another story were somewhat astounded by the claim that Iraq was perceived as a major front in the war on terrorism. He further reported that the people he had just interviewed said there were no terrorists in Iraq before the U.S. invaded.

As the anchor once again came into full view, he felt obliged to add to the correspondent’s report that we all know there are many different perspectives on the matter.

Certainly many perspectives exist, but in the recent week’s publicity blitz for the war, I found myself wishing that one of the reporters who had access to the president would simply read the record on why we said we were going to war in Iraq. I wish someone would simply read back to the president the rationale for each military intervention and for the sanctions that were in place during the 1990s. It is not a long list, it would take a matter of seconds. Never was Islamic terrorism or the war on terror a reason for acts of war against, or invasion of, Iraq. Having read the list, I wish that reporter would simply ask the president when and how Iraq became a principal front in the war on terrorism.

This has become a matter of “truth is what we say it is if we say it persistently and insistently enough.”

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There’s no spin necessary (and none offered) to establish the truth of what Catholics are doing in their communities and the wider culture. We’ve gathered a fair sampling of the sort of activities that will lift your spirit in the Ministries Special Section in this issue. Let me give you a little back story. Teresa Malcolm, who oversees our special issues, gathers us together every so often for special issues meetings during which we throw around ideas and possibilities. Then she takes those bare bones and goes to work. A few months later, I begin to see the full stories, and more often than not I am moved to smile by the sheer goodness of the people of God and what our presence, through ministries, spirituality, education, means in the world. Read this week’s section. It is a small sampling of what we do out of what we believe. And know that there is an astounding amount of goodness out there transforming the world. (See story)

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Retta Blaney, who writes regularly about theater in our pages, has developed a sort of ministry of her own called Broadway Blessing, an event she began organizing 10 years ago. If you happen to be in New York Sept. 18, the curtain goes up on the celebration at 7 p.m. at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, and admission is free. Broadway Blessing is a service of song, story and dance that brings the theater community together every September to ask God’s blessing on the new season. Clergy from the Cathedral and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church will participate, and the Broadway Blessing choir will sing.

-- Tom Roberts

National Catholic Reporter, September 15, 2006

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