NCR Today

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.

Fidelity to a mission

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I wouldn’t say the name Raymund Plankey is a household name. But for North American Christians who have worked in Latin American in recent decades he is more than familiar.

A native of Vermont, he helped found the Cuernavaca Center for Intercultural Dialogue on Development in 1977 and has been a constant presence at the center since. Plankey was a lay missioner in Chile when Salvador Allende was overthrown and assassinated by a military coup in 1972. Plankey had married Chilean Gabriela Videla while in Chile.

The famous Bishop of Cuernavaca, Don Sergio Mendez Arceo, had been in Chile on various occasions in the 1970’s and was engaged in dialogues with the church in Santiago, Chile. After the coup, when General Pinoche was put in power as military dictator, Bishop Méndez Arceo invited many social activists to come to Cuernavaca. Raymund and Gabriela moved to Cuernavaca, Mexico to begin a new chapter in their lives.

Reiki and the Holy Spirit

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Tell me it’s not so. A group of men, with considerable intellectual gifts, toiled away to produce a six-page document condemning a non-invasive healing technique practiced primarily by women. I’m talking about a declaration issued by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Committee on Doctrine which admonishes Christians to refrain from practicing Reiki—a method of laying hands on or above an ill or injured person to help stimulate the body’s own healing mechanisms.

Catholic health care practitioners I’m in touch with are still reeling from the declaration, which was approved for publication in late March. It charges that those who put their trust in Reiki are operating in the “realm of superstition,” which “corrupts one’s worship of God by turning one’s religious feeling and practice in a false direction.”

“I fear we won’t be able to offer Reiki at our retreats—or that the practice will be pushed underground,” said one friend. A hospital chaplain who is a nun told me, “It’s a witch hunt.”

Gallup Bishop investigates his priests

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It's interesting to note that the newly-installed Bishop James Wall of the Diocese of Gallup, New Mexico is undertaking a full background check of his 400 priests and intends to release the findings in the fall.

It's unclear whether Bishopp Wall himself will subject himself to a background check. Since only "active" priests in the diocese will be investigated, apparently the strange case of Bishop Wall's predecessor, Bishop Donald Pelotte, will not be investigated.

My recent NCR article on "improving the bishop-priest relationship" did not include the use of a forensic background check of priests by their new bishop. Maybe I should have included that technique.

Randall Terry as pro-life face

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A majority of the bishops in the United States have made no public statement about the University of Notre Dame’s decision to invite President Barack Obama to give the commencement address on Sunday. Many, I suspect, simply feel it is not their place to comment on such an event happening outside their diocese. Others may view such protests, correctly I think, as making the church look like an adjunct of the Republican Party. But, here is something all bishops should be prepared to speak about.

Randall Terry is already flying a plane over the campus with the picture of an aborted fetus, evidently not recognizing that turning the dead child into a prop falls short of what the church teaches about human dignity. Alas, Terry will exploit anyone and anything in his crude crusade. Sunday, like it or not, he will be the face of the pro-life movement in the media. The students who are graduating after four years of effort will see their big day turned into a circus.

Riffing on American Idol

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Last night Simon said that if Adam Lambert didn’t make it to the finals it would be the biggest upset in Idol history.

That would be wrong, Simon. The biggest upset, in my opinion, was when Chris Daughtry was eliminated in Season 5, 2006. As I have said before, rock (post-grunge?) is not my preferred genre, but Daughtry was and is amazing. And look where he has gone; according to Wikipedia (that bastion of accurate information), his self-titled was “the fastest selling debut rock album in history.”

I was disappointed when Allison Iraleta was eliminated last week, especially since neither Kris nor Danny can hold a candle next to the light of her talent. But that’s ok. Look at Daughtry.

Adam was awesome last night. And Kris and Danny did well. But they are ordinary. Adam is an original and man, he can sing. He is not pitchy. He can move. He is an artist and an entertainer. He has the power to move me.
I was impressed that Simon chose One by U2; it was a perfect song for Adam and as he said, the lyrics are very meaningful.

Craighead and the feminine divine

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"Meinrad Craighead: Praying with Images," a new hour-long documentary on the visionary Catholic artist, will be screened at the Nasher Museum of Art, in Durham, N. C. on May 21 at 7 pm, and at the KiMo Theater in Albuquerque, N. M. on June 28 at 2 p.m.

The screenings are free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted and appreciated.

The documentary offers an introduction to the lifelong pilgrimage of Meinrad Craighead and her mystical encounters with the feminine divine.

Writing what you know

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The priest author of "Real Life, Real Love: Seven Paths to a Strong and Lasting Relationship" (Berkeley Books, 2006) apparently was writing from experience.

Father Alberto Cutie, sometimes referred to as "Father Oprah" for being the first Catholic priest to host a television and radio talk show on secular media, has admitted to having a two-year affair with a woman after compromising photos of the two were released by Spanish-language media last week.

Although his name is pronounced koo-tee-AY, the handsome 40-year-old priest has no doubt been called by the non-accented pronunciation of his last name.

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July 14-27, 2017

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