NCR Today

Kosher cellphones and the pope's message of Internet silence


Although it is last year's news, I only heard about kosher cellphones today while listening to NPR on the way to an appointment.

I was not able to locate the story on NPR's site, but if I recall well, the story told of the Orthodox Jewish rabbis in the UK who were concerned about the lack of modesty that cellphones can promote among young people in particular because of cameras, Internet access and texting.

The answer? A basic model for cellphones with no "smart" technology. According to the story, cellphone providers didn't think there would be a market so they decided not to produce one, leaving it to those who buy the cellphones to figure out how to disarm the phones and adjust software. This gave rise to enterprise. One man in the U.K. has sold 20,000 modified phones, including to Muslims in Saudi Arabia who share the same concerns about modesty. Other customers like the basic version because they are just easier to use.

Austrian priest publishes names of former Catholics


Here's a new form of evangelization: Publish the names of all the Catholics who have formally left the church.

A pastor in an Austrian church did exactly that. What was he thinking?

The Vienna archdiocese immediately apologized. According to ABC News, "a statement says those affected have been asked 'for forgiveness,' noting making the names public 'is not allowed by state or church rules.' Those who formally renounce their membership in the Austrian Catholic church are freed from paying the mandatory church tax."

Hallmark hits a home run with 'A Smile as Big as the Moon'


'A Smile as Big as the Moon'
9 p.m./8 p.m. central, Sunday, Jan. 29, ABC
8 p.m./7 p.m. central, Saturday, Feb. 4, The Hallmark Channel

In the universe of film and television reviewers, it can get really awkward when trying to talk about the elusive, fragile, frequently manipulated "family" genre. No one can really define a family TV film except in hindsight, I think. When television studios set out to make an "all-in-one" family film, they usually end up reaching fewer viewers than hoped for.

It is also impossible to judge a film or television movie as "good" by what it does not have: no sex, bad language, violence, drugs, etc. Most television family films are just bland or worse yet, bland and preachy because producers favor message over a story.

But here comes Hallmark Hall of Fame with its first film of the year, and I think it is their best love story -- ever. It's not only a good family film -- it's great. The bar has been set. I now have a baseline to judge made-for-TV family films.

New York Giants matriarch injured in fall while in church


From ESPN:

Ann Mara will not be challenging Terry Bradshaw to a fistfight, at least not before Super Bowl XLVI.

The grand matriarch of the New York Giants, who became an Internet sensation for confronting the Fox broadcaster during the Giants' victory ceremony Sunday night, broke her shoulder in a fall after returning from San Francisco.

"It is true," her son, John, wrote in an email. "She went right to church after we arrived home Monday am and fell on the way back from communion. Broke her shoulder. She is 'probable' for SB."

Ann Mara, 82, poked a finger at Bradshaw and called for his attention as he attempted to interviewVictor Cruz following the Giants' 20-17 NFC Championship Game victory over the San Francisco 49ers. As her son John tried to persuade her to leave Bradshaw alone, Mara persisted and barked, "Hey, you never pick the Giants!"

"I know, I know, I'm sorry," said the former four-time Super Bowl champion quarterback of thePittsburgh Steelers. "I'm getting hammered for not picking the Giants."

Syracuse diocese priest pleads guilty to larceny


According to WKTV-Utica, an NBC affiliate:

Father Valentine Krul pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree grand larceny, facing five years probation with the first six months spent in the Oneida County Jail.

Father Val, as he was known by many in the community, was actually the chaplain for the Oneida County Sheriff's Department for more than 20 years. A priest for 34 years, he had been assigned to St. Mary's Church in New York Mills for the past 17 years.

In court on Wednesday, Krul said he had completed rehabilitation for stress, anxiety and alcohol in July 2011. He said that between October 2008 and January 2011, he took money from three church bank accounts at First Source Federal Credit Union, accounts made up of money from the parish, some of which included people's bequests, wills, and donations to the church.

Krul said that at one point he made a withdrawal of $46,720.91 for a condominium in Florida for himself.

Lord, deliver us from Newt's nonsensical comparisons


You really have to wonder who is most out of touch with America when you hear the vitriol-laced invective of Newt Gingrich.

He regularly employs guilt by association, spurting out sound bites that turn out to be nonsense on investigation. One of his favorite rants is connecting President Barack Obama with community organizer Saul Alinsky, as if nothing more need be said to establish the evil designs of the president.

Anticipating the State of the Union message Tuesday, Gingrich fired a typical barrage: "You always have to wonder when Obama speaks, which country he thinks he's talking to. You also have to wonder what his source material is. You can really understand him best when you understand that he is a Saul Alinsky radical who taught radicalism in Chicago. I'm an old-fashioned American, and I think the primary documents are the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Federalist Papers."

Huh? Reread that slowly, please, and tell me how those words hang together.

More on Catholic Healthcare West's decisiont


In what could set a significant precedent, Catholic Healthcare West, "one of the nation's largest hospital systems and operator of four Bay Area hospitals, is ending its governing board's affiliation with the Catholic Church and changing its name to help the system expand," the San Jose Mercury News reports.

The system's change to a nondenominational board will create "a tremendous opportunity that will help accelerate our growth," Lloyd Dean, the president and CEO of Catholic Healthcare West, told the Mercury News.

The article also reports that "secular hospitals added to the system will be required to adhere to the 'Statement of Common Values' that apply to Catholic Healthcare West's secular hospitals."

Although the article doesn't note this, the move will also allow the hospital to provide its employees with all of the provisions included in the Affordable Healthcare Act, including access to contraception, without involvement from the hierarchy.


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May 19-June 1, 2017