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Webathon day four: NCR and the wider church narrative

 |  NCR Today

I wouldn't exactly call it a Kansas tornado. That said, it's pretty windy inside NCR's Kansas City, Mo., headquarters at the moment. After months of planning, we are midway through our annual webathon week -- and we are behind where we want to be at this time. Meanwhile, we have experienced some technical glitches not of our making. Oh, technology. So there is concern and, yes, tension.

As it's my turn to ask for your much-needed help, I find myself wondering what I might add to convince you to click on the donate link if you have not already done so. We really do need your support to keep NCRonline.org alive and healthy. Under the circumstances and with this in mind, I took a few moments to empty my mind. After a minute or two, a thought emerged, not one I had expected. I remembered Pope Francis. Not in a general way, but in a specific way. I recalled his election.

Let me, then, share this Francis story. After Francis' election, he left the Sistine Chapel with two cardinals to appear on the balcony before the world. According to Msgr. Dario Viganò, who was inside the Vatican immediately following the election, Francis walked with his head down, as if he were carrying "an enormous burden." On the way to the balcony, he and the cardinals stopped in the Pauline Chapel and sat in the back pew.

The pope had a few moments of silent prayer, took a few moments to clear his head, and, Viganò said, "he stands up, turns around, and at that moment he's a different person."

"It's as if God had said to him personally, 'Don't worry, I'm here with you,' " Viganò said.

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That's powerful narrative. But what's it got to do with our webathon? On one level, it seems it's a reminder of proportion. NCR fits into a smaller scheme inside a larger church narrative. But there's something else. It is a reminder of the need to step back occasionally, to empty oneself, clear the head, and, yes, be open to the Spirit.

I do see another NCR connection with this narrative. NCR reported this recollection. We have been reporting the vision and work of Francis since day one of his pontificate. Moreover, we feel a special connection with him. His vision of church finds its original and most creative sustenance in the voices of the marginalized. He tells us to go to the margins. That's where, he repeats, the work of the church must be done.

NCR is telling the Francis story day after day on this website. It is an inspiring tale, one with many challenges and questions. Some of these should begin to be answered in the autumn during the Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome. Quite honestly, I feel that for the first time in four decades, NCR feels some papal wind at our backs. Francis, meanwhile, is widening the ecclesial space for more dialogue on contentious issues.

After nearly 50 years, we remain true to our mission. We are an independent, lay-led voice in the church. We report. We provide commentary and analysis. We work as frontline journalists. We are unique in these efforts.

NCR leadership has evolved and grown through the years. We have first-rate leadership in place, with Caitlin Hendel as CEO/president and Dennis Coday as NCR editor. We are capable of meeting the challenges ahead -- but only with your continued support. Eight years ago, 98 percent of our readers were North America-based. Today, with the advance of this website, our reach is global. We have readers in almost every country in the world. We are working in a fast-paced technical revolution. But not without cost.

So I come to you for your help. Maybe sit quietly for a moment or two and ask what would it be like without NCR. We who work here connect with readers around the country and globe, forming a unique intentional community. We need each other. So please, take a moment or two and respond. No gift is too small. Help us achieve our goal. You will feel better after you have joined in to help out this community of online readers.

Gratefully,

Tom Fox
NCR Publisher

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September 12-25, 2014

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