The Christmas story turns on the Incarnation

The Christian story begins with really good news: God has decided to accompany us in history. That’s more than enough reason to rejoice.

Obama's visit to Hiroshima should be informed by the words of Pope John Paul II

NCR Today: Pope John Paul placed the events of August 1945 in the context of humanity's long history of civil wars: for lovers of humanity all wars are civil.

Call to the bishops: 'build on hope, not fear'


As Catholic bishops gather in San Antonio this week, they face some tough questions. Their most recent engagements with politics sharpened divisions within the church and left the bishops shaken, even embarrassed.

Many church leaders harshly criticized the University of Notre Dame, long beloved by Catholics, because its administration invited President Obama to give the commencement. The local bishop decided to boycott the event, and one of the country’s most respected lay leaders, Mary Ann Glendon, turned down an honor that she had earlier accepted. Highly publicized attacks on Notre Dame and on the president of the United States took place as the most radical anti-abortion groups harassed university officials and students.

But Notre Dame’s graduates and their families enthusiastically welcomed President Obama, listened attentively to his persuasive address, and cheered an eloquent introduction by Notre Dame President John Jenkins, C.S.C. Notre Dame emerged strengthened by the controversy while the bishops seemed isolated and at odds with a significant portion of their Catholic flock.

Book Review

Catholic moral theology based on real life

By Charles E. Curran
Georgetown University Press, $26.95

Fr. Charles Curran is a priest of the diocese of Rochester, N.Y., who is now a professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. One of the nation's most respected scholars in the field of ethics, Curran is also a Catholic moral theologian.

Curran is unusual. Too many intellectuals serve narrow factional interests, be they national, political, economic or religious, all the while denying that social and political responsibility has anything to do with their pursuit of truth. Scholarship has become highly specialized and professionalized. Questions of social and political responsibility are often relegated to matters of personal preference or, at best, subjects of interdisciplinary dialogue.

Too few Catholic scholars, including theologians, regard the life and work of the church as relevant to their intellectual and cultural work. Curran, in contrast, takes all these responsibilities seriously.