Ken Briggs reported on religion for Newsday and The New York Times, has contributed articles to many publications, written four books and is an instructor at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennslyvania.

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How to cope with the odd match of Ash Wednesday, Valentine's Day

NCR Today: Ashes speak of the inner self: quiet, somber and watchful, tinged with spiritual foreboding and a summons to self- honesty. The valentine signals an opposite impulse for outward expressions of affection conveyed by words and sweet tokens.

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Foundation of Francis' papacy could crumble

NCR Today: What pope other than Francis could we imagine assigning his own special prosecutor to investigate his own words and actions?

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Chile controversy contrasts with image of Pope Francis as a leveler

NCR Today: Francis' harsh and dismissive words for his Chilean critics could portend a major stumbling block: an inability to face clergy sexual abuse and cover-up when it hits home.

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Leadership style, a comparison between Dr. King and Pope Francis

NCR Today: Martin Luther King Jr.'s words left an indelible mark on our eyes and our ears. Words did not suffice for him, however, unless they were backed up by street cred.