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 Today's Take:  NCR's daily Web column
Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news.  It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.

January 21, 2004
Vol. 1, No. 185




Tom Fox Reflections close to my heart

By Tom Fox, NCR publisher

I'd like to change course today. Monday, I reflected on nonviolence and Martin Luther King's radical vision. Yesterday, I reflected on the fear tactics that took our nation into Iraq war. Today, I want to offer some reflections closer to home. They deal with NCR and its community of readers, subjects close to my heart.

NCR's mission can be summarized as follows: We seek to inform and inspire a just and peaceful world, serving as a platform for discussions of church, society and global community. Yes, pretty idealistic.

Other Today's Takes by Tom Fox
Jan. 20, 2004 Remember the tales from last year
Jan. 19, 2004 The last years of Martin Luther King
Nov. 20, 2003 (un)Holy Matrimony
Nov. 19, 2003 Talking about celibacy
Nov. 18, 2003 Why bishops won't talk about celibacy
Oct. 10, 2003 Why Catholics are jittery
Sept. 26, 2003 Priest of the poor
Sept. 25, 2003 A revolution deferred: sex and the church Part II
The National Catholic Reporter, our newsweekly, is the heart of our mission. We also publish a monthly liturgical planner called Celebration, along with three newsletters that serve Catholic parishes.

In recent years we have expanded our communications reach, entering electronic publishing. You are encountering us today on our growing company Web site.

Mission statements are vital. They keep feet on the ground and eyes on the horizon.

Who are we? We are journalists and have been honing our skills since 1964. That's when the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Company was founded in Kansas City, Missouri.

In the best traditions of journalism, NCR has tried to give voice to the voiceless and hold the powerful accountable. I sometimes say that NCR, echoing the Catholic bishops of Latin American of the late 1960s and early 1970s, has made a "preferential option for the poor." This leads to exciting journalism.

Our readers repeatedly say that NCR publishes stories that simply cannot be found elsewhere. In the age of the Internet, it's a large compliment.

NCR is more than a newsweekly, more than a company. It has grown to become a community and a vision of hope. In fact, I'd say NCR markets hope. This community is increasingly global and is made up of idealistic men and women who share ideals of peace, justice, and environmental soundness. It is a community that believes in shared information, open discussions and community building.

NCR readers are generally Catholic or come out of the Catholic tradition. They also long to be catholic, meaning universal and inclusive. They are Spirit-seeking people, their religious experiences often spilling into other traditions.

If pressed, the NCR community of readers is likely to say its primary community is global. They live beyond traditional "nationalisms." Hard-earned life experiences have taught them that in an age shaped by ecological awareness, solutions that exclude anyone are simply not worth the effort.

The NCR community of readers is a perceptive one. These readers have spent lifetimes in careful discernment, although they are not boastful even as they have accumulated significant wisdom. They have also experienced their fair share of disappointments, not least of these dealing with their own church and government.

The NCR community of readers is painfully aware of local and global injustices. Social injustice is part of their lexicon. So, too, is the nonviolence of Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi and Dorothy Day. No question about it. The NCR community of readers is engaged in the hard issues facing the planet.

The NCR community of readers is made up of ordinary people who hold to the extraordinary belief that every person is a gift of God and a work in progress. They believe every person has the right to freedom of expression and worship as well as to food, shelter, security, and meaningful and just employment.

Sometimes discouraged? Oh, yes, these people can get down. It's only human. However, they stay hopeful because they believe the universe has meaning and that God is always among us.

Finally, the NCR community of readers looks to each other for support, encouragement and vision. It looks to each other to inspire each other and, in turn, the wider human family. Quietly, day-by-day, they are making this a better world in which to live -- and in which to dream dreams.

Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at

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