NCR Today

Help get clemency for this Missouri woman


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


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


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


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


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


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.

Woo takes helm at CRS


I've long been a fan of Catholic Relief Services, having witnessed their work firsthand in India and Ethiopia as part of trips won through CRS's Eileen Egan Award for Journalistic Excellence program. I've also been a fan of Ken Hackett, who led CRS for the almost 20 years I have been covering the organization and who retired last month.

Luckily, I'm also a fan of the new president, Dr. Carolyn Woo, former dean of the Mendoza School of Business at the University of Notre Dame, my alma mater. While I don't know Woo personally, a close friend who worked with her at ND speaks very highly of her as a colleague and a Catholic.

Although it seems like we shouldn't have to be noting this in the year 2012, Woo is the first woman to head one of the world’s largest international humanitarian relief organizations.

The story of a near-death experience and three plastic saints


This is one of those odd-but-true stories people tell around the holidays. It involves me, my near-death and three plastic 3-inch figures.

Bear with me.

Seven years ago this Christmas season, my insides exploded. I thought I had severe stomach flu -- and everyone around me readily agreed. ("Oh, for sure. There's a bad strain of it sweeping through this year; my sister-in-law's cousin from Philly ... ") Despite the insane pain, I got on a jet and flew from Los Angeles to visit my parents in Florida.

A few hours after I walked in their door, I fell on my mother's kitchen floor in unbearable agony. My father raced me to the hospital -- where the doctors discovered my large intestine had blown open and was spilling bile all over my internal organs. The last thing I remember as they wheeled me into the operating room: The surgeon turned to a nurse and said, "There isn't much time."

I woke up the next day in intensive care, with a 15-inch scar up and down my mid-section. I stayed with my parents for five weeks before I was well enough to head home to L.A. During that time, something miraculous happened: I got to know my mother and father again.

Kansas health center offers staff time off for mission work


Ashland Health Center, a public 24-bed hospital in rural Kansas, was facing staffing shortages common in many rural areas until it changed its approach and began recruiting health workers interested in doing mission work, according to the Associated Press.

As a benefit, it now offers employees 8 paid weeks off each year -- which can be used for mission work or any other purpose.

"The idea: people willing to care for the sick and suffering in developing nations might be content to do the same in a town of 855 people, more than two hours away from the nearest Starbucks," reports the Associated Press.


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017