NCR Today

Morning Briefing

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Election 2012 -- Bitter GOP ad campaigns highlight close Michigan primary battle. No one, not even the candidates, anticipated the slugfest that is shaping up in Michigan as Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney head toward the final hours before Tuesday's Republican presidential primary vote.

Election 2012 -- Michigan primary: Why GOP evangelicals like Catholic Rick Santorum

Election 2012 -- Democrats raring for contraception battle with Republicans

Msgr. Lynn trial: Pa. judge denies bid to drop monsignor’s charges

Ad-libbing Ill. priest retracts resignation

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The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Belleville News-Democrat are reporting Fr. William Rowe, the ad-libbing priest who refused to follow the strict translation of the Roman missal, has sent a letter to Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville, Ill., retracting his resignation.

According to the reports, Rowe, priest at St. Mary's parish in Mt. Carmel, Ill., for 17 years, had sent his letter of resignation to Braxton in October, with the bishop waiting until early February to accept it.

The News-Democrat report cites Rowe saying Canon 538 makes his resignation void, since Braxton waited more than three months to act on his resignation.

Aching for the aborted babies with birth defects

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I read a troubling essay by Tucker Carson on Slate that links prenatal testing for Down syndrome and abortion. Carson wrote it in 1996.

Simply summarized, as testing for genetic birth defects has improved, fetuses with those defects are being aborted.

My heart aches for the parents making the decision for abortion. I ache, too, for the loss within our community of persons with Down syndrome, loving individuals who need a lifetime of care.

That care is expensive. And it gets more expensive as the person grows older, ages out of the school system and continues to need some degree of supervision. I would be very happy to get rid of our nuclear weapons and nuclear delivery systems and earmark the money for care of everyone in our society with disabilities.

That's it in a nutshell. I want children with disabilities to be born, and I want their parents to be confident the children will receive the lifelong care they need.

Santorum at odds with church's call to safeguard the earth

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It's often struck me as odd that so many self-described traditional Christians regard environmentalism as an assault from the radical, anti-religious left. Stewardship of the planet in woven right into Genesis and throughout the Old and New Testaments -- but not according to the people who scream "Drill, baby, drill!" on their way to church every Sunday.

A provocative column in the Los Angeles Times goes after that inconsistency head-on. The Times' former religion reporter, Larry Stammer, takes Rick Santorum to task for criticizing the theological underpinnings of President Barack Obama's green policy while ignoring his own church's explicit call to safeguard the earth. Here's an excerpt:

The odyssey continues for Priests for Life

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Only days after a desperate and urgent fundraising appeal letter seeking more than $600,000 in the next two weeks was sent to donors , Fr. Frank Pavone, the leader of pro-life group Priests for Life, delivered another letter to his donors Saturday.

This time, Pavone unleashes an attack on President Barack Obama.

"The Obama administration is out to force you to take a direct and active role in the murder of your unborn brothers and sisters," Pavone says in the opening salvo.

"President Obama's arrogance and his disdain for those who 'cling to God' is such that, like the schoolyard bully, he thinks he can run roughshod over anyone who stands in his way or dares to defy him," Pavone writes.

"Well, he picked a fight with the wrong people when he attacked Priests for Life," he continues. "We have no intention of knuckling under. Instead, we filed a lawsuit to protect you, your conscience rights, and your freedom to practice your religion as you deem fit."

Giving up the news for Lent

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A number of friends and colleagues have bowed out of Facebook as their Lenten discipline this year. No doubt social media can be a time-waster, but they can also be important forms of communication. Even more intriguing to me is that a couple of friends have mentioned giving up another form of media—the news.

Such a proposal should be anathema to a news-junkie journalist like me, but I find myself agreeing that a news fast might make spiritual sense.

Much of what is presented as “news” today is actually analysis or opinion, and to say that the tone is contentious is like pointing out that the sky is blue. While being informed is important, is it really necessary to follow the hourly ups and downs of every presidential candidate? Or to dissect the Vatican’s latest announcement in minute detail? Or to read every nasty comment to a favorite blogger’s latest missive?

The saying, “junk in, junk out” may apply here. Just as some relationships can be toxic, so can much of the partisan, argumentative, sometimes nasty and ill-informed “content” that passes for news (not at NCR of course!).

At the very least it makes me cranky, depressed and not very charitable to those with other opinions.

When there's more to winning than winning

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Legendary sportswriter Frank Deford does us a big favor by writing about a superb moment in college basketball history.

While many of us have come back to earth now that NBA phenom Jeremy Lin showed Thursday what it's like playing against the Miami Heat -- not fun -- another story unfolded in a lowly NCAA Division III basketball program at Gettysburg College. If you want to be inspired, take two minutes for this story.

Morning Briefing

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Making educated predictions for Sunday's Oscars

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I saw 120 of the top films released in the United States in 2012, most of them in the top 250 that made at least $1 million at the box office. I saw 33 of the 45 films in the major categories nominated for an Oscar. I am only going to cast votes here in the categories for which I saw all the films.

On NPR today, host Michel Martin talked about The Los Angeles Times story that claims that "most Oscar voters are white, male, out of touch" and of a certain age.

If I were a voting member of the Academy, here are the films I would vote for, as a white, still middle-aged (it's a close call but I still have some time) female and, I like to think, an in-touch film reviewer. And I don't like sympathy wins. Oscars are precious; give them to the truly deserving.

Best picture

"Hugo" -- This film gets my vote, and I hope it will win; it's a beautiful homage to cinema, the imagination, storytelling and family. It moved me.

"The Help" -- This is a very strong contender, and I loved it.

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June 16-29, 2017

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