Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Unearthing the Stories of the Dead

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Unearthing the Stories of the Dead

Article excerpt

Humans have shown a propensity for doing awful things to each other in the name of causes and states and religion and access to resources.

The century just finished was a sad testament to the degree of violence we are capable of deliberately and systematically inflicting on one another, a reality that has endured seamlessly into the new century.

Looking upon the horrors of the past would be a numbing act of desperation were it not for those like Clyde Snow, who have persisted in building and keeping the record of the violence, of holding people accountable.

"Disappeared" is a term that grew from Latin American struggles. It was often right-wing governments who employed murderers "to disappear" the opposition. In many places it resulted in secret, often mass, graves. Opposition silenced.

But not entirely. This week's cover story tells of Snow, one of the world's foremost forensic anthropologists who, motivated by a deep belief in holding the killers accountable, began to interpret the stories of the dead. The bones don't lie, he says. They can tell a story.

The Bush campaign is serious about courting the Catholic vote. As Joe Feuerherd reports on Page 5, the Republican National Committee is asking Catholics to help dig up and send on to the RNC parish directories and membership lists of Catholic groups.

I hope, if Catholics are that hot a commodity this year, that we're smart enough to use a little political muscle.

Bush fans should make the case for the whole agenda--opposing capital punishment as well as abortion, extending health care benefits to everyone, providing funding to improve lousy schools, responding to the pope's relentless opposition to the Iraq war--before promising anything. …

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