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BYOB for NCR's anniversay.

Make sure you read the history column on Page 12 this week. The "Notice to Readers" really did appear on the front page of the last issue of NCR Vol. 1. Like the staff 49 years ago informed readers, I, too, need to inform you all that our next issue, dated Oct. 24, will mark an anniversary, our 50th, with a special issue. In your mailbox next time, you'll find a 60-page anniversary volume recapping the major news events of the last 50 years in the American Catholic church. Like that first generation of editors, I wish I could send you all champagne--we'll have it in the office no doubt--but readers will have to make do with chewing a few "extra slices of the sober bread of truth."

For true church history buffs and NCR fans, I'd recommend you get a copy of Arthur Jones' newest book, National Catholic Reporter at Fifty: The Story of the Pioneering Paper and Its Editors, published by Row-man & Littlefield last month. It is a rather intimate portrait of NCR and gives some behind-the-scenes accounts of some of the big events in NCR's history. To learn more about the book, see the ad on Page 3a, or go to row

As we went to press Oct. 1, people--synod fathers, delegates, a few journalists--were beginning to gather in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on the family. As Joshua McElwee reports (Page 1), there is some confusion about what exactly will happen at this synod. Lines were being drawn about whether or how much church teaching can change. (An old question, no?) Media attention has focused on the question of divorce and remarriage among Catholics, but the discussion and implications are much broader, German Cardinal Walter Kasper told America magazine in the leadup to the synod. (See tinyurl. com/nperqqd for the full interview)

America asked Kasper: Why do you think there is so much fear of a development in the church's discipline? Kasper responded: "I think they fear a domino effect, if you change one point all would collapse. That's their fear. This is all linked to ideology, an ideological understanding of the Gospel that the Gospel is like a penal code."

We'll do our best to get full coverage of the synod in our next two print issues. McElwee is, of course, covering the synod and its various ancillary events. Joining him will be Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese. To see that coverage unfold, you will want to bookmark your Internet browser to

My priority as a priest and now as a bishop for the past 16 years is to recognize that God is already at work in the lives of people. People come to us as priests, as ministers of the church, because they have already experienced God. And what they want us to do is to confirm, support and nourish them in that call. So my priority is to really be attentive to what is already happening, the great things that God is already doing.

This is the quote that made me happy to see Bishop Blase Cupich appointed to the Chicago archdiocese. (See Page 1.) Spokane, Wash., his current see, will surely miss him, but Chicago will welcome him. Isn't it refreshing to have a church leader--as his first priority--recognize that God is alive and working already in the lives of the people that leader is called to serve? Too many times in recent years, our bishops and church leaders have come off as judges and the Gospel as (to quote Kasper from above) "a penal code."

Actually, those leaders give the impression that they more often turn to the Catechism of the Catholic Church than to the Gospels for guidance.

It is a simple but profound statement: Cu-pich's job isn't to bring God to the people of Chicago: they already have God in their lives. His job, a bishop's job, is to set aflame what has already been sparked. That is why Cupich is so refreshing. I suspect that is also why some are calling him a "Pope Francis bishop."
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Title Annotation:EDITOR'S NOTE
Author:Cotay, Dau
Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Article Type:Editorial
Date:Oct 10, 2014
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