NCR Today

Dolan denies rumor of snub to Obama envoy

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By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tGiven the present political climate in the States, it was probably inevitable that when a reception hosted by the U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See for the new American cardinals in today's consistory was cancelled, some people would suspect a deliberate snub by the American prelates to the Obama administration.

tAs news of the cancellation spread last evening, rumors both in Washington and Rome began to swirl of another chapter in the current tensions between the American bishops and the Obama administration over the insurance mandates issue.

tNew Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, President of the U.S. bishops’ conference, told NCR this morning that was simply not true.

tDescribing the cancellation as the product of scheduling conflicts after Pope Benedict XVI called for a full-day session with the cardinals on Friday, Dolan said he “gladly would have gone” to the embassy event had it been possible.

Birth control controversy erupts anew

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The controversy over the Catholic bishops and the Obama mandate has spawned a veritable Pandora's Box of discussion and argument far beyond anything the bishops expected.

In an especially perceptive online New York Times essay, Gary Gutting, a Catholic and a philosopher, contends that the bishops are wrong in claiming birth control is contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church. There may have been a time, he says, "when the vast majority of Catholics accepted the bishops as having an absolute right to define theological and ethical doctrines. Those days, if they ever existed, are long gone. Most Catholics ... now reserve the right to reject doctrines ... and to interpret in their own way the doctrines they do accept."

"The ultimate arbiter of religious authority is the conscience of the individual believer," Gutting says.

"It follows that there is no alternative to accepting the members ... as themselves the only legitimate source of the decision to accept their leaders as authorized by God."

Gary Carter: 'A gracious and giving person'

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Much has been written about Christianity in professional sports over the past several months since NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, an outspoken Evangelical Christian, excited both fans and the devout.

Now we have a new superhero in NBA point guard Jeremy Lin, who exploded onto the scene this month with his superb play contributing to a New York Knicks seven-game winning streak. Lin said this week Tebow is an inspiration to him because Tebow is integrating his faith with his athleticism.

In this environment, we might overlook the fact that faith-centered professional athletes have been around for a long, long time. They may have been overlooked by the media and fans. We lost one of those athletes this week to brain cancer.

Hall of Fame catcher Gary Carter died at the age of 57. He was a devout Christian.

'Horror-tainment' proves the need for men and women to come together

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By now, if you have any link to any media, you have seen the photo of the men who testified on Capitol Hill about artificial contraception Thursday.

If you only look at the photo, the only people testifying are men. From an image analysis alone, the fact that only men testified about an issue at the core of our being as human persons, this image is deeply troubling.

Although the regulation of birth seems like it is only for women, Humane Vitae stresses that this is a matter for husbands and wives -- that would mean men and women. Even among conservative Christians, there must have been one woman who agreed with these men who could have been included. (It seems they denied a "liberal" woman the chance to testify.)

More on Linsanity: 'For God and God's glory'

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So says Jeremy Lin in response to a question from the New York Post's writer Steve Serby.

Q: You want to use that platform for what?

A: For God, for God's glory, and I think that's shown in a lot of different ways. It simply could be the way I live my life, what I talk about in my interviews, what I talk about through social media. It could be what I do in my spare time, what I do through my foundation ... just a lot of different areas ... how I spend my offseason.

Later in the Q&A, Lin gives this response:

Q: Would the best compliment for you be for someone to say, "He makes his teammates better"?

A: I think that would be the second-best compliment. The best would be, "When I see Jeremy play, I see him play for God and I see him bring joy on the court."

Lin is currently single, but not without plenty of offers for marriage. And he has a clear view of what kind of woman he intends to marry.

Q: Describe your ideal mate.

Magisterium faces theologians' fire

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The current position of the church's magisterium that all its teaching is to be accepted as definitive, authentic and binding and is not subject to disagreement is experiencing growing rejection by established Catholic theologians. Some telling samples of their views are presented in a chapter of the new book The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity.

Gerard Mannion, a senior fellow at the Catholic University of Leuven (in Belgium)
argues that the very notion of magisterium must undergo a severe updating:

"I would suggest that any effective ... exercise of magisterium must free itself from and pretense of omniscience for, in reality, the character of its exercise in recent times would on occasion appear to hold more in common with the 'view from nowhere genre.' In other words, far from being grounded in fundamental and universally agreed upon traditions, pronouncements have ... appeared to claim an authority that transcends context, culture and history alike. And yet ecclesial authority is inescapably rooted and shaped by each of these factors."

When Congress acts like the bishops

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When I saw the photo of a hearing Thursday before the House Oversight Committee, chaired by Darrell's Issa (R-Calif.), I was stunned and shocked. The subject dealt directly with women's health, and there were five men testifying. All clergy and no women!

Worse than that, women members of Congress asked for a woman to testify, and they were refused.

All I could think was this: These congressional Republicans have been listening for too long to the Catholic bishops. For all the world, Darrell Issa could have been wearing a miter.

Then, I thought wistfully to myself, these congresswomen are all Catholics now! They suddenly know what it feels like to be part of an institution that does not value gender equality or women's voices, even when the issues relate directly to women. Welcome to my world.

When Democratic women asked for a woman to be included, Issa said the hearing was about religious liberty, not women's health.

Baloney! In this case, the two issues are intertwined.

Rome notebook: Dolan's the rock star of this consistory

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ROME -- Theologically all cardinals may be equal, but in terms of celebrity appeal, some are obviously more equal than others. Each consistory, when a pope inducts new members into the church’s most exclusive club, tends to have its own “rock star” – that one new cardinal who is head and shoulders above everyone else on the buzz meter.

Undefeated: A sports film that highlights 'agape'

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The nation, indeed the world, is enthralled by Jeremy Lin, the undrafted humble Harvard underdog who has stunned the NBA and the New York Knicks with his performances on the basketball court these last couple of weeks.

But hidden in the deep South, somewhere around the decrepit environs of North Memphis, Tenn., a high school football team struggles to succeed just as it did in 2010 when The Tigers, the school’s football team, for the first time in the school’s 110 year history, made it to the playoffs.

Kennedy launches campaign for congressional seat held by Barney Frank

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According to The Associated Press:

Joseph Kennedy III has launched his campaign for the Massachusetts congressional seat now held by retiring U.S. Rep. Barney Frank.

Kennedy released a video announcement on his campaign website Thursday morning before heading out on a campaign swing through the district.

Kennedy started the day greeting commuters at the Newton Center Green Line MBTA Station and was scheduled to make stops later in Milford, Attleboro, Taunton and Westport.

Kennedy, the son of former U.S. Rep. Joseph Kennedy II and a grandson of the late Robert F. Kennedy, recently moved from Cambridge to Brookline, part of the state's newly redrawn 4th Congressional District.

The family has deep ties to the Boston suburb. Brookline is the site of the birthplace of Kennedy's great-uncle, the late President John F. Kennedy.

For more on Joe Kennedy, see his campaign website.

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June 30-July 13, 2017

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