NCR Today

New missal could drive away Catholics at California parish


On the first Sunday of Advent, Michael Cassidy sat in a pew at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Berkeley, Calif., as he has done most Sundays for the past 35 years. But it is likely to be his last liturgy there for a while.

Because of his strong opposition to the new Roman missal, he is taking "a vacation from the Roman rite," a decision he describes as "very painful."

Cassidy's concerns go beyond the new translation to the motivations underneath the words.

"I believe the whole thing is designed to undercut the ecclesiology of Vatican II, which in turn underlies the prior liturgical changes which followed the council," he said. "The next generation -- assuming that they come to church -- will grow up with a liturgy which denigrates that ecclesiology and glorifies another, older one. So much for 'letting in fresh air.'"

In another pew, fellow parishioner Mary Bucher was offended at the insertion of "I have sinned greatly" into the Introductory Rite.

"I don't go around sinning greatly," she said. "I am not going to say this."

Why the return to such a negative view of faith? she asked. "Are they trying to undo Vatican II?"

Well, she said, "We're not going back."

Religious liberty blossoms at the U.S. Air Force Academy


The newly minted and urgently created U.S. Bishops Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty will be tickled to learn that the U.S. Air Force Academy is officially making room for pagans, druids, witches and Wiccans, according to a story in the Los Angeles Times:

"We're here to accommodate all religions, period," [says Chaplain Maj. Darren] Duncan, branch chief of cadet faith communities at the academy. The building of the Cadet Chapel Falcon Circle on the hilltop, he says, is no different from the past conversion of chapel rooms into worship spaces that serve this year's 11 Muslim, 16 Buddhist and 10 Hindu cadets. There are also 43 self-identified atheist cadets whose beliefs, or lack of them, Duncan says are also to be respected.

"It is very nice to have our own space," says Cadet 1st Class Nicole Johnson, a 21-year-old senior from Florida who became a pagan after entering the academy.

Alabama: The price of intolerance


Today's New York Times editorial captures the high price of Alabama's radical new immigration law. For those championing the move to airlift more than 11 million undocumented immigrants back to their birth countries or those trying to concoct a dastardly law like Alabama's, they ought to pay close attention to the true cost of such ideas.

Back in 2004, President George Bush proposed comprehensive immigration reform:

"Saying the United States needs an immigration system 'that serves the American economy and reflects the American dream,' President Bush Wednesday outlined an plan to revamp the nation's immigration laws and allow some eight million illegal immigrants to obtain legal status as temporary workers.

Heidi Schlumpf on NPR: What she missed


My paper issue of NCR arrived in my mail the day before Thanksgiving. But it was only today that I had time to zero in on Heidi Schlumpf's column, "NPR: Not Particularly Religious."

On many levels, I agree with Heidi. NPR is probably the best source for national and international news anywhere on any dial, radio or television. Like her, every radio I own is tuned to my local NPR station; in my case, WAMU. I imbibe "Morning Edition" with breakfast and listen to "All Things Considered" as I'm driving home from the studio in the evening.

Heidi is also correct that there is some resistance to religion coverage at NPR, and at some (not all) NPR stations. More on that later.

Morning Briefing


Catholics use new English translation of Mass. The new translation was introduced in every English-language Mass in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and India over the weekend, and had been phased in elsewhere in the English-speaking world over the past year.

New York City -- New Translation of Catholic Mass Makes Its Debut

Washington -- Catholic Mass changes don’t upset faithful

Erie, Pa. -- Catholics say missal changes 'beneficial'

Dallas, Texas -- Mass sounds different in Catholic churches

When the Poll is Called Up Yonder


My friend George Gallup Jr. died this week.

He was a fountain of benevolence and cheer, a welcoming and winsome presence. He wrote with grace and charm, spoke melifluously and schmoozed with panache.

These gifts drew on a reservoir of what was, I believe, a Christian vocation that summoned him to Episcopal ordination during his college days at Princeton.

Soon after graduation, he turned away from that ambition to return to his father's famous polling research enterprise where he he channeled his vocational bent into decades as an evangelist for American religion both within the Gallup Organization and as a cure for personal souls.

He made religion integral to a highly political survey operation. Though his father wasn't much interested in religion, his open mindedness gave George Jr. an opening. The son also inhereted his father's generosity and tolerance.

The son was a dutiful keeper of the Gallup flame, safeguarding its integrity and devotion to the principle that democracy depends for its existence on ability and an awareness of public opionion as a political force to balance the array of special interests.

'Have a Little Faith' a heartwarming, interfaith story


This is the first in a trilogy of blog posts by Sr. Rose Pacatte looking at some of this year's new holiday television movies.

Have a Little Faith
Sunday, Nov. 27
ABC, 9 p.m./8 p.m. CST

"Have a Little Faith" is this year's Hallmark Hall of Fame's made-for-TV holiday movie. It's based on the 2009 best-selling book by Mitch Albom and in many ways is similar to "Tuesdays with Morrie" -- a book (1997) and film (1999) that made me cry a river.

"Have a Little Faith" is about Mitch's relationship with the rabbi of his youth, Rabbi Lewis (Martin Landau), who asked Mitch (Bradley Whitford) to write and then give his eulogy when the time came. As a journalist, Mitch agreed, but only after he conducted several interviews with Rabbi Lewis. These led Albom to notice stories about faith in Detroit, where he worked. He met Henry Convington (Laurence Fishburn), a former drug addict and ex-con in Detroit who became a reverend and ministers to the people of a poor inner-city church, working to make the lives of his people better.

The New Yorker Thanksgiving cover takes on immigration


The Huffington Post has a compelling story on the New Yorker's Thanksgiving cover story:

"No stranger to controversial cover art, The New Yorker Thanksgiving issue depicts a gaggle of pilgrims scampering under a starry sky.

"A woman crawls under a barbed-wire fence that could be the U.S.-Mexico border. Two men, sweat dripping from their hats, sprint across the barren landscape.

"The illustration is entitled 'Promised Land.'

"'American politics tend to be very practical and open-minded, so why would you consider throwing them out?' Cover artist Christoph Niemann told Huffington Post LatinoVoices. 'The debate should be about how can a country benefit from immigration. America depends on immigration. The discussion will be more valuable if it is focused on benefits.'"

Morning Briefing


Catholics revise words of Mass

Pope accepts resignation of another Irish bishop, leaving seven of Ireland's 26 Catholic dioceses without a bishop and raising expectations of major cutbacks in the size of the Irish church following child-abuse scandals.

North Smithfield, R.I. -- First Baptist Church settles in Catholic chapel for now

Women’s health advocates fear Obama will cave in to Catholic bishops’ demands

Catholic women to create national network against domestic violence

Give us the grace to feed the hungry


To my great surprise, when I was 40, I acquired two teenage foster sons, brothers whose mother suffered severe depression. I had moved from the large emergency shelter at the Catholic Worker to a four-flat in need of significant rehab. A couple of women from the community came with me and I made a place for Paul, 15, when he got out of the hospital. His 13-year-old brother moved in right behind him.

We were so busy then. We were up to our elbows in need. I'd known the boys for four years. Their family was one of the first to come to Karen House. It didn't seem any more out of the ordinary for them to move in with me than for them to have lived for months at a time on the street.

I tell this because I am so grateful for Elijah and Paul. I went to Elijah's daughter's high school graduation last May. It knocks my socks off.

I'm grateful to their mother, Helen, for letting her boys leave her. I'm grateful to the child abuse supervisor who said she would not pursue the case as long as the boys stayed with me. I'm grateful to Elijah and Paul for choosing me.


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April 21-May 4, 2017