NCR Today

Priests for Life leader 'not in prison,' continues to raise money


Amarillo Bishop Pat Zurek broke his silence to Karen Smith Welch, the Amarillo Globe-News reporter who has been ably covering the dysfunctional relationship between Zurek and one of his priests, Fr. Frank Pavone. Pavone is the national director/president/chairperson of no fewer than three anti-abortion charities: Priests for Life, Inc.; Gospel of Life Ministries Inc.; and Rachel's Vineyard Ministries.

According to the Amarillo Globe-News:


A Roman Catholic priest restricted to ministry within the Diocese of Amarillo participated in March for Life events Monday in Washington with the permission of his bishop.


The Rev. Frank Pavone had a full calendar during Monday's annual pro-life gathering marking the anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Who speaks for the \"Catholic left\"?


The blog post headline caught my eye: "Obama offends the Catholic left." I wondered what he had done now--but was surprised to find this piece was about the recent HHS contraceptive mandate decision.

The Catholic left is mad about that? As a self-described "leftie," I was hardly offended by the decision, so I delved into the piece.

The blog post was written by Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn, a VP at News Corp. who writes speeches for CEO Rupert Murdoch. He is certainly not "left," nor does he claim to be.

Former priests refuse to 'disappear'


About 45 years have passed since the great diaspora of Catholic priests out of active ministry and into lay life. The departure rates stayed amazingly high for a time then subsided, but continue to this day.

Now these men, in their 30s and 40s when they left, have aged into their 70s and 80s, and many are reflecting on their journey. Chicago Cardinal Francis George recently expressed regret that priests had left their God-given calling and suggested that most had at least the good sense to just "disappear." That perception may have had some validity in the 19th century and the first half of the 20th when the "fallen" clerics were regarded with either scorn or pity. Often commented on in the seminaries of those days were books like Shepherds in the Mist, which recounted the sad, frustrated, guilt-ridden lives of these betrayers of their vocation.

Morning Briefing


New drone technology further removes us from war


Yesterday's Sunday Review in The New York Times featured an article about the moral use of drones by United States.

The author, Peter Singer, asks if drones are undermining democracy.

For a while now, some ethicists have wrung their hands over the "push-button war" where pilots drop bombs and soldiers shoot off missiles without ever seeing their targets. But now drones can identify footprints, read license plates and destroy houses and automobiles without troops ever setting boots on the ground.

Thus, President Barack Obama did not seek a declaration of war in Libya, and Congress didn't seem to expect one.

Our soldiers' lives are not at risk, so the public has little reason to pay attention.

Singer says, "And now we have a technology that removes the last political barriers to war."

Restraint is not an easy virtue, and it doesn't fit within our practice of foreign policy. If we have a weapon, we use it. Current political campaigners are calling for even less restraint.

On this March for Life day, a reasoned discussion on abortion


In questions of abortion in the Catholic church, it sometimes seems as if there’s no room for civility. Most of us are familiar with the rhetoric. You’re either pro-life or pro-death, for us or against us.

As the annual March for Life takes place today in Washington, it was refreshing to notice a blog post this morning that didn’t fit the paradigm.

Could a man who made his own Bible get elected?


Imagine for a minute that a media story revealed that one of the candidates for president of the United States had created his own version of the Bible, keeping those things with which he agreed and eliminating those things with which he had problems. Could such a candidate be elected? Even nominated?

Almost certainly not. But one of our most esteemed presidents actually did that, though he kept it quiet.

Thomas Jefferson took a razor and glue brush and cut and pasted the Gospels of the New Testament into his own version. He eliminated most references to the supernatural, including the virgin birth, miracles and even the resurrection of Jesus. He kept what he considered the moral philosophy of Jesus -- parts like the beatitudes, most parables and the Lord's Prayer.

Jefferson once said, "I am a sect by myself, as far as I know." That's certainly true. We may not agree with his biblical choices, but we can only respect the honest wrestling of a man dealing with his faith.

Morning Briefing


In quest to grow, Catholic hospital system pares religious ties. Catholic Healthcare West, one of the nation’s largest hospital systems, is ending its governing board’s affiliation with the Catholic Church and changing its name.

Conservatives, evangelical Christians rebuff Romney in South Carolina

Fort Wayne-South Bend, Ind. -- Diocese calling Catholics home

See NCR's story on this national ad campaign: Ads aim to extend Catholic welcome

Editoraila: Respecting religious exemptions. The administration’s feint at a compromise.

NCR coverage:

Evangelicals, power and presidential elections


A blog post by David Neff, the editor-in-chief of Christianity Today, titled "Why Last Saturday's Political Conclave of Evangelical Leaders Was Dangerous," went viral this week, with lots of strong opinions pro and con about his assertion that Christians are not called to be kingmakers or pawnbrokers.

Neff quotes James Davison Hunter, author of To Change the World, who told CT in a 2010 interview:

"Whenever Christian churches and organizations partake in the will to power, they partake in the very thing they decry in society."

Instead, Neff advocates:

"Rather than trying to demonstrate power through the promise or threat of votes, evangelicals should use influence. Influence is a matter of education and persuasion—informing and convincing constituents and lawmakers alike."


Subscribe to NCR Today


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017