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Thoughts on peace and on winning awards.

Just before this week's issue went to press, Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic signed a peace accord with NATO. The airwaves turned thick with recitation of details and speculation about how long before the hundreds of thousands of refugees could return to Kosovo.

It might be a natural response to want to put this episode behind us with a sigh of relief that an ugly chapter is ending on a positive note. In reality, though, the victims --Serbs and Albanians--are left with the consequences of the nightmare: the overwhelming task of rebuilding cities and rehabilitating lives.

And little has been settled in the way of figuring out how to deal with the next Milosevic or the next regional hot spot. So in this issue we continue a line of inquiry that began on our pages in the May 21 issue with Pamela Schaeffer's report, "Human rights, peace activists split on Kosovo." Some activists at the time confessed to a certain ambivalence over what position to take on the war in the Balkans.

This week we put the question more directly to an interesting range of advocates of nonviolence: "If not military force, then what's the answer?" The responses are engaging and creative.

Our hope is that the cover story package and editorial will provoke more thought about how to get beyond violence in the post-Cold War world.

Robert G. Hoyt, founding editor of the National Catholic Reporter, was named the winner of the Catholic Press Association's St. Francis de Sales Award late last month in Chicago. The award, named for the patron saint of journalists, was announced during the Catholic Press Association's annual convention.

The winner is selected by mail-in ballot of CPA members. Candidates are nominated for their "outstanding contributions to Catholic journalism." The award is CPA's highest honor.

Hoyt, who has been senior writer at Commonweal for the last 11 years, began his career in 1946 in Denver at the Register chain of diocesan newspapers. In 1950, Hoyt helped inaugurate a Catholic daily newspaper, the Sun Herald, in Kansas City, Mo. From 1957 to 1966 he edited The Catholic Reporter in Kansas City. However, he is best known in Catholic circles as having been NCR's first editor.

He was cited for "creating a first-rate, independent Catholic newspaper [that] set a standard which has had a profound impact on the character and professionalism of Catholic journalism."

Hoyt is the first living NCR journalist to receive the St. Francis de Sales award. Two other members of the NCR staff, Donald Thorman, the late publisher, and Penny Lernoux, the late Latin America affairs writer, received the award posthumously in 1978 and 1990.

When other CPA awards were handed out, NCR's examination of the Philadelphia archdiocese and Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua by former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Ralph Cipriano in the June 19, 1998, issue won first place in the best investigative reporting category.

Another first place award, for best feature story, went to assistant news editor and staff writer Teresa Malcolm for her report on Thailand in the Dec. 26, 1997, issue. Malcolm's piece chronicles a return to the country where she spent two years in the early 1990s as a Peace Corps Volunteer.

Special projects editor Pamela Schaeffer won second place in the investigative reporting category for a piece detailing the circumstances behind the firing of seminary professor Aaron Milavec from the Athenaeum in Cincinnati (NCR, April 24, 1998).

Schaeffer also won third place in the feature story category for a piece on Voodoo in the Dec. 4, 1998, issue; a third place and honorable mention for personality profiles of Jesuit Fr. Brad Reynolds, writer of mystery novels (NCR, Feb. 27, 1998), and Gary Macy, chairman of the theology department at the University of San Diego who specializes in investigating medieval manuscripts (NCR, Jan. 9, 1998); and an honorable mention for sports writing for her cover story, "McGwire's blast brings redemption" (NCR, Sept. 19, 1998).

Opinion editor John L. Allen Jr. won second place for best news report on an international event with cover stories reporting on an extraordinary national gathering of Austrian Catholics who issued a call for sweeping church reform (NCR, Nov. 6, 1998). He also won an honorable mention for best analysis for extensive reporting on the controversy over inclusive language in the new American lectionary (NCR, June 6, 1998, Sept. 25, 1998).

Music reviewer Robin Taylor took a third place for best regular column for several pieces on contemporary, music and spirituality.

The paper won second place in two categories, for best editorial and for general excellence.

The NCR advertising department's Chris Curry and Marcie Ryan won first place for best media kit.

The winning stories can be found in the back issues on NCR's website. Subscribers can access the back issues with a password. Go to http://www.natcath.org/ncr_onli.htm

The award to Cipriano holds special significance since he was soundly vilified by the archdiocese's chief public relations strategist, Brian Tierney, who compared Cipriano to "a low-grade infection that keeps coming back." Tierney also judged NCR "tremendously irresponsible" for publishing the story.

Cipriano's boss, Inquirer editor Robert Rosenthal, apparently was also displeased that his reporter's work appeared in NCR, even though Cipriano had first offered the reporting to the Inquirer. In an interview with The Washington Post about the NCR story, Rosenthal accused Cipriano, among other things, of having" an agenda," even, it is worth noting, as he continued publishing the reporter's work on the front page of the Inquirer. Rosenthal retracted some of this comments in a follow-up letter to the Post but refused to publicly apologize to Cipriano, who then sued his boss and was subsequently fired. The case is now going through the courts.

All along, the implications were that Cipriano had some private grudge against the church at large or the diocese or Bevilacqua. We thought all along that he simply had a nose for a good story and relentless determination in seeing that it was told.

The judges for the CPA, an organization that counts among its members The Catholic Standard and Times of Philadelphia, whose publisher is Cardinal Bevilacqua, came to the same conclusion. "Cipriano's exhaustive look at Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua of Philadelphia is the type of hard-hitting investigative journalism that is only possible at an independent Catholic paper. Cipriano raises some serious questions about Bevilacqua's leadership, particularly with regard to his lavish spending and his lack of accountability to the people of the diocese who were affected by his decisions. It is clear that Cipriano put considerable time and effort researching records and interviewing those associated with the cardinal, both in Philadelphia and in Pittsburgh."

Almost a year after Cipriano's work ran in NCR, the Inquirer published an extensive three-part series on the state of the church in Philadelphia. But the readers in Philadelphia still are missing a major part of the story. The series barely touches on the serious money and accountability issues that are at the heart of Cipriano's story.

An update from columnist Tim Unsworth:

"I'm better, much better. The infection is still draining, but the fever has gone. I'm still weak but can walk some distance and do dishes. I don't see the colon surgeon for another month and have been advised to see the oncologist and to get the eight-week chemo started. Chemo will be relatively mild and will reduce the chances of the cancer returning by 30 percent. I would settle for a 1 percent reduction!

"I was touched by the wonderful response to the news of my illness. Got over 200 get well messages, largely thanks to Michael Farrell's words [in "Inside NCR" for May 14]. Heard from people I hadn't heard from in over 40 years. At least seven bishops. Loads of NCR priests, brothers and elderly sisters who knew how to use e-mail.

"I heard lots of stories from other semicolons. What a change! Years ago colon cancer wasn't even mentioned in mixed company, and all churchmen died of cancer about where John Wayne used to get shot--well above the navel. Churches didn't even have bathrooms. One had to `go to Sister' and get a key to the school. God knows how many souls were lost to the church while they waited outside the school, hopping up and down on one leg until Sister came.

"Thanks for all the good wishes!"

Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Ann E. Chester, a founding leader of the House of Prayer movement, turns 98 years old Aug. 13, and her friends are asking NCR readers to join the celebration.

In 1968, Chester helped plan the first conference on House of Prayer, a movement that sprung up as religious women found that their work in socially oriented ministries was crowding out time for prayer and contemplation. The movement encouraged the establishment of houses in each order where community life was determined by the needs of prayer.

Chester's years of shaping that movement were chronicled in her 1991 memoir, My Journey in the House of Prayer. The book marked the beginning of her retirement at age 90, though she continued to respond to requests for prayer ministry, retreat and workshop appearances.

Because of health problems, in 1996 she moved to the St. Mary Health Care Center in Monroe, Mich. Her friends, family and former students will be celebrating her 98th birthday there July 25. For readers who would like to send Chester birthday greetings, mail them to St. Mary Health Care Center, 610 W. Elm Ave., Monroe MI 48162, and they will be presented to her at the party. Please mark on the envelope, "98 B-day."
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Publication:National Catholic Reporter
Date:Jun 18, 1999
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