NCR Today

People of faith should celebrate Hillary Clinton's statement

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On Dec. 7, International Human Rights Day, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke to the United Nations in Geneva. That day, she made a statement defending universal human rights that should be celebrated by Catholics and all people of faith. Yet it has not gotten the media coverage nor the praise it deserves from the leaders of faith traditions, like, say, Catholic bishops.

In short, Secretary Clinton said the human rights and equality of all human persons include gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. And she injected that sentiment directly into the foreign policy of the United States, saying that the U.S. will defend that principle with both foreign aid decisions and diplomacy. It was a breathtaking statement in many ways, but one that should be applauded by everyone concerned about universal human rights. I may be wrong, but I have yet to hear any Catholic bishop praise that statement. [The bishops oppose gay marriage, but they claim to defend the equal rights of LGBT people otherwise].

Here is the essence of what Clinton had to say:

Morning Briefing

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Bill Donohue's December fundraising letter

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Bill Donohue, the one-man show at the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, recently sent out his year-end fundraising letter. Donohue focuses his letter on people and organizations who "want to take down the Catholic church."

According to Donohue: "Almost alone, we brought attention to the evidence -- ignored by the John Jay professors -- that homosexuality was involved in almost all abuse cases. Not to report this was sheer dishonesty, and we refused to play the game" (emphasis included).

He goes on to boast of a "grand slam" by showing "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is a "well-organized anti-Catholic front group."

Donohue trumpets a surprise press conference he held in front of the "Catholic-hating Kansas City Star newspaper." This was done to "strike back against all the familiar players out to get Bishop Robert Finn," who was indicted by a local prosecutor for failing to report a priest to the police after Bishop Finn had plenty of notice.

Of course, Donohue claims that the Obama administration, among others, is threatening religious liberty.

Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe celebrated

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Catholics throughout the Americas gathered in churches today to celebrate the feat of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

During his homily at a mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict prayed that God would guide the decisions of the Latin American people, so they could progress in "building a society based on the development of good, the triumph of love and the expansion of justice."

He added that he intends "to make an apostolic trip to Mexico and Cuba before Easter to proclaim the word of Christ and to strengthen the conviction that this is a precious time to evangelize with a steady faith, a lively hope and an ardent charity."

In

Morning Briefing

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Catholics pleased with HHS Plan B decision

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Yesterday, Catholic News Service Reported: The U.S. bishops' pro-life spokeswoman said she was relieved that the Obama administration has decided not to allow the Plan B One-Step "morning-after pill" to be sold without a prescription to those under 17. (Read more.)

The Catholic Health Association is also applauding the decision. The CHA released the following statement this morning:

CATHOLIC HEALTH ASSOCIATION APPLAUDS HHS DECISION ON PLAN B

WASHINGTON, DC (December 9, 2011) – Sister Carol Keehan, DC, president and chief executive officer of the Catholic Health Association of the United States (CHA), issued the following statement.
The Catholic Health Association is very grateful to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius for her intelligent and courageous decision to prevent very young adolescents from purchasing and administering unsupervised the strong hormone contained in the drug known as Plan B.

NCR announces new internship program

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It pleases me to announce a major new initiative at NCR, the Tom Bertelsen Internship Program. This is a paid internship program made possible by a generous endowment gift by Bertelsen, a former investment banker. Bertelsen is currently the chief financial officer for the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, Calif., and chief financial officer for the St. Rose Corporation, an affordable housing and child care center in San Francisco. He is chair of the board of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University and a trustee of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. He serves on the NCR board of directors.

Faith vs. charity in day-to-day life

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I spoke yesterday on an evangelical television station about some legislation being written to reform criminal sentencing. Then the host asked me, "What is the role of your faith in choosing to do this work?"

Well, actually, I don't think my faith has a role per se. I didn't say that on television. I talked about love and quoted St. Vincent de Paul about leaving Christ at the altar to answer Christ ringing the doorbell.

(Here's an interesting aside. I just did a quick Google search in case it was not St. Vincent whom I had quoted. Among the top 10 search results I got were "God's promises are real," "Inspiring Text Messages," "The Kneeling Christian -- How God answers Prayers" and "Send a text message to God's phone number." Who knew?)

But I did make a mental note to think a little more carefully about the role of faith in my day-to-day work. I have faith in the goodness of human nature, but I suspect that comes more from my experience than from my internalization of Genesis, where God saw that the works of creation were good.

Do men hate going to church?

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We are airing a fascinating and funny interview on Interfaith Voices this week. It's a conversation with David Murrow, author of a newly revised book, Why Men Hate Going to Church.

Most observers know that it's sometimes hard to find many men in the pews of Christian churches. Women also predominate in lay leadership (though in Catholic churches, not on the altar!).

Murrow's book is not directed at Catholicism per se; it's directed at Christian churches in general. And he offers workshops with local groups about suggested changes aimed at getting men back in the pews.

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February 24-March 9, 2017

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