NCR Today

Cardinal George apologizes

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Cardinal George has apologized for comparing the Chicago gay pride parade to the Ku Klux Klan, saying today that he was "truly sorry for the hurt my remarks have caused."

I'm not sure what eventually changed his mind--or why it took so long (he made the comments Christmas Day and continued to defend it in the following week)--but I agree this is a step in the right direction.

See full story here.

What's a just cause for a bishop's resignation?

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Like Pax Christi USA, I, too, am sad about the resignation of Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop and Pax Christi USA President Gabino Zavala. I did not know him, but if he's associated with Pax Christi, he must be in tune with the justice and peace message of the Gospel, and that's great. So why did he resign? He fathered two children.

I'm sad for two reasons. We have not yet seen the day in the Catholic church that a priest or a bishop can marry and father children without it being some sort of scandal. It's long past time that we move to a priesthood that welcomes and celebrates marriage and fatherhood. (And while we're at it, motherhood as well!)

But I'm also sad because resignations are apparently necessary when a bishop "fathers" children, but not when a bishop fails to deal seriously with the abuse of children. I'm thinking of all those bishops who moved abusing priests from parish to parish, who covered up abuse, who have failed to report abuse to authorities. Most of them are still running dioceses.

If we had our priorities straight as a church, which kind of bishop would be forced to resign?

Help get clemency for this Missouri woman

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Patty Prewitt is incarcerated in a Missouri prison, serving the 26th year of a 50-years-to-life sentence for killing her husband. She has always said she is innocent and refused an 8-year sentence plea bargain deal. There's no trail to prove her innocence, but there is plenty of reason to ask Gov. Jay Nixon for clemency. To learn more, go to her website.

Individual cases like Patty's are a tap root of the tree of justice. By taking an interest in Patty's case, we nourish that root, even if we fail to free her. Our action changes us, making us more aware of human suffering and more compassionate.

If you would like to take action, you can call Governor Nixon at (573) 751-3222. An operator will answer the phone.

Say, "I'd like to urge Governor Nixon to grant clemency to Patricia Prewitt."

She will say, "Thank you. I will see to it that he gets the message."

You can say, "Would you like my name and address?"

She says, "If you would like to leave it."

But you don't have to. Your call will add to the numbers one way or another.

2011 nonevents that failed to shake the world

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Now that you've heard about all the big Catholic stories and happenings of 2011, get ready for a few of the big nonstories and nonhappenings. Some of these say a lot more about the state of the church than do the big events that got wide recognition.

Benedict at Assisi

Pope Benedict did not pray at Assisi. His predecessor John Paul II made an historic breakthrough in 1986 when he invited leaders of many world religions, including Hindus, Buddhists, Jews and non-Catholic Christians, to meet at Assisi, sign a statement calling for world peace and together publicly pray for peace.

2011 marked the 25th anniversary of that event, and Benedict did indeed travel to Assisi along with about 200 other faith leaders. They signed a new peace commitment. But Benedict didn't pray with them.

Thinking about Bishop Zavala's resignation

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The day after Bishop Gabino Zavala's resignation became public, the local National Public Radio station did a call in show on the topic "Is celibacy relevant in the Catholic church today?".

It was kind of a historical, theological look at celibacy. NCR regulars will recognize the contributers to that discussion, NCR columnist Phyllis Zagano and A.W. Richard Sipe, who ocassionaly contributes to NCR. In fact, Sipe's latest contribution is an essay titled: The reality of celibate life: Reflections from Henri Nouwen

The show is worth a listen.

Robert Kennedy's grandson considers a run for Congress

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With longtime liberal U.S. Rep. Barney Frank from Massachusetts retiring from Congress this year, the Wall Street Journal reports:

Joe Kennedy III, grandson of Robert F. Kennedy and son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy II, announced Thursday he's resigning his job in a state prosecutor's office and exploring a run for Congress.

My decision to look seriously at elected office is grounded in a deep commitment to public service and my experience -- both my own and that of my family -- in finding just, practical, and bipartisan solutions to difficult challenges," Mr. Kennedy said in a statement.

Mr. Kennedy, 31 years old, would run for the seat being vacated by Rep. Barney Frank (D., Mass.), who announced recently he won't seek re-election after his seat was redistricted.

Beyond being part of a storied political family, Mr. Kennedy's background is a classic for an aspiring politician: He attended Harvard Law School and served in the Peace Corps before becoming a prosecutor.

Five observations on the new cardinals

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Naming new cardinals is among the more important acts of any papacy, because the cardinals form the "electoral college" that will pick the next pope. That’s arguably even more significant this time around, given that Benedict XVI will turn 85 in April – and although there’s no sign of any health crisis, at that age it’s natural to begin thinking about what might come next.

Here are five quick observations about the 22 new cardinals named today by Benedict XVI, including 18 who are under 80 and therefore eligible to participate in a future conclave.

The consistory, when today’s nominees will actually enter the College of Cardinals, is set for Rome Feb. 18-19.

Bring on the Italians

tIt was already a commonplace observation about Benedict XVI that in some ways he has “re-Italianized” the Vatican and the papacy, perhaps a product of his comfort level with Italian ecclesial culture after spending almost the last thirty years in Rome.

Pope names 22 new cardinals, including Dolan and O'Brien

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Pope Benedict XVI today announced the names of 22 new cardinals, including 18 under the age of 80 and thus eligible to vote for the next pope. The list includes two Americans: Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, and Archbishop Edwin O’Brien, Grand Master of the Order of the Holy Sepulchre and the former archbishop of Baltimore.

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May 19-June 1, 2017

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