National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly

Archives  | 

Send This Page to a Friend

 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.

April 8, 2003
Vol. 1, No. 3




global perspective

On Prizes, Scandals and Basketball

by Tom Roberts, editor of NCR

Congratulations to the Boston Globe on winning the Pulitzer Prize for its work last year on the sex abuse scandal. There is some justice in the fact that the paper on which an angry cardinal once called down the wrath of God is being recognized for its work.

Only with full disclosure will there be any chance of fixing the problem and bringing healing to the church. And only with aggressive reporting, the kind that should have occurred at many other major papers much earlier in this 18-year scandal, will that full disclosure occur.

The Globeís stories fanned the flames anew because it was able to dig up documents that showed that all the public protestations of church leaders were disingenuous at best, at worst, lies.

The language of the chancery was finally available to all, uncensored and unspun, and Catholics realized in increasing numbers that this is a story that goes beyond individual acts of sexual abuse. It is about systemic corruption.

It is widely recognized now that real reform -- the kind that engages the judgment of lay people at decision-making levels, that rips down the walls that have allowed church leaders to operate in secrecy, that puts in place systems of accountability -- is essential to dealing with the problem.

Still, some resist. Some leaders have refused to allow groups like Voice of the Faithful, lay reformers who became associated after the latest round of scandal broke, to meet in Catholic Church facilities. Some, like Los Angelesí Cardinal Roger Mahoney, are resisting releasing documents.

At the same time, changes are occurring; many dioceses are reportedly cooperating with the national lay board that is investigating the causes of the scandal; and some leaders have been open to listening not only to the awful stories of abuse victims but also to their suggestions about how to deal with the problem.

Recently Vatican officials gathered experts to hear their reports (see John L. Allen Jr.ís story under the Special Update button on the home page of this web site) on the role of homosexuality in the current sex abuse scandal. Especially noteworthy is the fact that most of the experts consulted are not Catholic and that Vatican officials reportedly were receptive to information that goes against the grain of assumptions in some Vatican offices. It is unlikely such a meeting would have occurred without the intense interest of the press in the issue during the past year. Thatís progress.


There is reason to pause in this monthís provocations and to bypass, just for a minute, talk of war, of scandal and other serious matters to say, ďRock Chalk Jayhawk!Ē

For the uninitiated, thatís the cheer you hear around the University of Kansasís Allen Fieldhouse, named for legendary coach Forrest (Phog) Allen. Itís an old barn of a place that drips with tradition and memories of incredible basketball.

Nine years ago, when my family moved to Kansas from New Jersey, I lamented the loss of Big East basketball. I missed the likes of the Hoyas and the Johnnies, the gritty feel of the game I had grown up with. But after nearly a decade in Big 12 land (the former Big 8) and several trips to Allen Fieldhouse -- a positively electric venue that occasioned both my wife Sallyís conversion to basketball viewing and her understanding, finally, of the peculiar behavior that overcomes me in March -- Iíve become a true Big 12 fan.

So, hereís a tip of the hat to Jim Boeheim, the Big East and all the Orangemen, who beat Kansas for the NCAA championship last night, and a wish that Roy Williams finds a way to say no to the lure of North Carolina and take KU back to the final four next year.

Top of Page   | Home
Copyright © 2003 The National Catholic Reporter Publishing  Company, 115 E. Armour Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111 
TEL:  1-816-531-0538   FAX:  1-816-968-2280