NCR Today

Theologians back Notre Dame honoring Obama

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Calling President Obama "a Christian with a deep respect for the role of faith in public life," 20 leading U.S. Catholic theologians and scholars have sharply criticized those who are attacking the University of Notre Dame for inviting Obama to deliver the university's commencement address May 17.

Most of those protesting Obama's appearance cite his support for legalized abortion as grounds for denying him a platform or honors at any Catholic university.

The scholars said Notre Dame "has a long tradition of honoring presidents from both political parties." They urged those who opposed Obama's appearance not "to disrupt these joyous proceedings or to divide the church for narrow political advantage."

Intentional Eucharistic Communities

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A national gathering of Intentional Eucharistic Communities is scheduled to open in in Chevy Chase, MD., tomorrow. I recently talked with William D’Antonio -- a professor of the sociology of religion and well-regarded researcher -- about the gathering. D'Antonio is the principal organizer of the gather. My interview with D'Antonio is an NCR podcast: Intentional communities find a way

Weakland questions church teaching on homosexuality

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Retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, whose autobiography, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church” (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) is set to be published next month, in an interview with the New York Times, is speaking out on matters of sexuality.

“If we say our God is an all-loving god,” he said, “how do you explain that at any given time probably 400 million living on the planet at one time would be gay? Are the religions of the world, as does Catholicism, saying to those hundreds of millions of people, you have to pass your whole life without any physical, genital expression of that love?”

Tricky Dick and JFK

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Richard Nixon had some redeeming qualities: he opened the door to China, built détente with the Soviet Union, and created the Environmental Protection among other accomplishments. But to politically aware Catholics, he also had the saving grace of never playing the “religion card” against John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election.
Or so we thought.
In his recently released The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 (Oxford, 2009) author Shaun A. Casey uncovers much about the secret effort engineered, by among others, the Nixon campaign, the Rev. Billy Graham, Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (they’ve since dropped the “Protestants and Other” from their moniker), and the National Association of Evangelicals to use Kennedy’s faith against him. The tactics were smarmy, bigoted, slickly implemented, well-funded, and ultimately unsuccessful.
NCR’ s review is forthcoming, but I can say without hesitation that anyone who thinks they know the real story of that election really does not until they read what Casey has to report. It is gripping stuff.

Jenkins writes Notre Dame grads

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Notre Dame President Father Jenkins’ letter to the graduating class exposed one of the central fallacies in the letter he received from Dr. Mary Ann Glendon when she declined the Laetare Medal.

Glendon wrote then that “A commencement…not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision -- in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops -- to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.”

There oughta be a law

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The ecumenical vigil held to remember the immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, provides a snapshot of the tragic conflict.

Perhaps we need a Sarbanes-Oxley-style federal law that requires private and public company CEOs and CFOs to annually certify (subject to criminal penalities against the executives) that they are upholding employment laws in lieu of the immoral federal and state raids hauling the poor and the undocumented off to jail, ripping families apart, and the subsequent bankruptcy of a small company providing employment in the community.

Should the Pope Have Been More Direct?

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The New York Times asked four experts, including NCR's John Allen, for their take on Pope Benedict's remarks at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem. "Whatever the disappointments from the Yad Vashem visit, they’re not indicative of a pope with a lack of respect for Judaism, or one who’s indifferent to either anti-Semitism or the memory of the Holocaust," says Allen. What do you think?

So what does a monk know about sex?

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Over the last couple of days a story has been making its way out of Poland about a Franciscan friar publishing a detailed and graphic sex guide. Today the BBC picked up the story.

According to the news report, "In his book, Sex as you don't know it: for married couples who love God, Father Ksawery Knotz aims to sweep away the strait-laced attitudes many hold. Sex in marriage, the Franciscan friar explains, should not be boring but "saucy, surprising and fantasy packed". The book, which has the backing of the Polish Catholic Church, has been a hit."

Father Knotz also "dismisses those that have questioned the competency of a celibate monk to write about sex, saying his experience comes from counselling married couples and from running a website giving sexual advice for almost a year."

Given the low birth rates in Europe, perhaps this book is timely.

Cooper, Donohue & Reese

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Kudos to Jesuit Father Tom Reese and Catholic League president Bill Donohue for their civil discussion of the Notre Dame controversy last night on Anderson Cooper's show. Their discussion was informative (especially for those who haven't been following every step of this increasingly tiresome debate) and provocative without resorting to gotcha soundbites. A model, perhaps, of how to engage intrachurch issues in the broader media. After the mandatory ad, the clip runs about six minutes.

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June 16-29, 2017

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