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Day One: NCR Webathon -- Please give generously

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Greetings to everyone – especially devotees of the NCR website, www.ncronline.org. Today, and throughout this week, we’re asking for your help as part of NCR’s Second Annual “Webathon.”

I will get right to the point: Your support is vital, absolutely essential, to the work of providing the independent news, analysis and commentary you have grown to expect from the nation’s leading Catholic newspaper and Website – www.ncronline.org. Please take a moment, right now to show your support for the online and print journalism NCR provides to the Catholic community.

Catholic workers gather to oppose nuclear weapons plant

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Over 120 people have gathered here from across the country this weekend to call attention to the construction of the nation's first new nuclear weapons facility in 33 years, located just south of the downtown area.

Arriving from places as far away as South Dakota, Colorado, and Washington, D.C., the activists are hosting a 3-day conference aimed at building awareness of and resistance to the construction of the weapons plant, which will replace an existing one here.

The conference is expected to culminate Monday with an act of civil disobedience at the site of the new facility.

Last night, people gathered for a standing-room-only showing of "The Forgotten Bomb," a new film portraying the dangers of the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.

Part documentary, part diary, the film follows the personal journey of director Bud Ryan as he visits survivors of the nuclear weapons blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki and talks to nuclear weapons analysts, including former Secretary of State George Shultz.

Cardinal Sodano's 'peripheral issues'

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Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who was Pope John Paul II’s secretary of state, second only after the pope in Vatican’s power rankings, provided a clear answer today to anyone who might yet be wondering why and how the sex abuse crisis continues to intrude on news of church events, even the beatification of a pope.

Following is a segment of a story filed earlier today by AP writer Nicole Winfield:

“Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican's powerful secretary of state under John Paul, has been accused in particular of having been Maciel's most ardent protector and supporter in Rome, at one point allegedly shutting down the canonical process against him.

“Asked Thursday in Rome to comment on the Legion scandal, Sodano told The Associated Press that it wasn't the time to speak about it.

"’How can you, in such a great moment, get into such peripheral issues when the world is applauding the pope?’ Sodano said on the sidelines of a Vatican exhibit honoring the late pope. ‘I'm stunned.’"

NCR's annual Webathon begins Sunday

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Next week is the big week.

Beginning tomorrow, and running for seven days, NCR is having its annual -- now second year running -- Webathon. We need you to join in and donate to keep us going. We need your help. You come to this Web site for news, analysis, commentary and inspiration. And, yes, we know some of you come here to join in the many conversations generated by our coverage.

Prelates defend John Paul II on abuse crisis

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ROME --tWhile victims of clerical abuse in the United States are blasting the beatification of Pope John Paul II for “rubbing more salt into the wounds” caused by the abuse crisis, two prelates who worked with the late pope, one a Slovakian and another an American, insisted that the crisis does not disqualify John Paul from sainthood.

tA statement released today by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the main victims’ advocacy group in the United States, asserted that “in more than 25 years as the most powerful religious figure on the planet, John Paul II did almost nothing to safeguard kids across the world.”

tJohn Paul, according to the SNAP statement, “ignored or promoted stunningly complicit church officials,” and “on that basis alone, beatifying John Paul II shouldn’t be considered, much less ‘fast-tracked.’”

tIn Rome, however, prelates who knew the pope argued that a tight focus on the sexual abuse crisis misses the big picture of what John Paul II was all about.

Urban Mystic at the Crossroads: the video

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Today in 1992, four Los Angeles Police Department officers were acquitted of the beating of Rodney King and Los Angeles erupted in rioting. The beating of King, which had been video tapped, the trial and acquittal were seminal events in the history of race relations in this country.

Last year I interviewed the Rev. Scott D. Young about his annual pilgrimage to the site of the flash point of the civil unrest following the acquittal of the police officers in the Rodney King case.

Kids Around the World See a New Role for Royalty

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ABC News, like every other news network, is fixated on today's royal wedding. In one of the seemingly endless series of preparatory stories, Diane Sawyer and the ABC news team interviewed children in England, Johannesburg, Tokyo, Islamabad and Moscow. They asked these groups of 7- and 8-year-olds what they think it's like to be a prince or a princess.

Thoughts on communion denial

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Yesterday's news about a Texas boy with cerebral palsy being denied the Eucharist in a first Communion Mass is awful on a number of levels.

First, the reporting in the ABC news piece is shoddy and illustrative of why we need actual religion reporters in our newsrooms: "The important ceremony means the child has been embraced by the church community. And it is accompanied by traditional family celebrations and gifts."

Really? That's what First Communion is? The knowledge of the various sacraments or rites of particular faith groups is Religion Reporting 101, folks, and the ABC team didn't show up for class.

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