NCR Today

High-school grad seminary bound

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Over at the Arkansas Catholic, there is a brief article and picture of a high school graduate reading his "letter of intent" to attend a seminary this fall during a Mass and in front of his bishop, Anthony Taylor.

It's a rather dramatic and formal way for a teenager to announce his intentions to enter a seminary. Decades ago it was commonplace for high school kids to enter the seminary. Hopefully it works out well for the young man.

Who's looking out for the little guy?

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Like probably most Americans, I am frustrated at the mess in Washington over the debt ceiling increase. I think the Republicans have shown themselves to be total ideologues, caring little about the art of compromise.

Clearly, they have no real commitment to lowering the deficit since they have passed up an opportunity thrown to them by President Obama to significantly lower the deficit in a balanced way that is not just all spending cuts but involves some tax increases as well, especially on the wealthiest percent of the population.

The clergy who helped marriage equality pass

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In case you missed it earlier this week, Samuel G. Freedman of The New York Times offered a long-overdue profile of the clergy who helped same-sex marriage to pass in New York last month.

Many politicians still rely on the clergy to lend themselves moral authority when debating social issues. But, as Julian E. Zelizer observes in the article:

"If religious support is fractured, and supporters of the legislation can point to clergy who are on their side, then it’s easier to counteract the claim of religious conservatives who say there is only one answer to this question....We know more about how the right has done it, but liberals can do the same."

It was the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Pride in the Pulpit program that began recruiting clergy who support marriage equality. The initiative began in 2004 with a few dozen ministers and rabbis. By the time the marriage bill went to a vote last month, more than 700 clergypersons were signed on to support the cause.

On this day: St. Mary Magdalene

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Mary Magdalene.

Mary Magdalene is a mirror in which all Christians may see something different. Some reflections:

Mary Magdalene: The Image of a Woman Through the Centuries, by Ingrid Maisch, Verlag Herder, 1996, OSB, Collegeville, Minnesota, 1998, is specifically about what Christians down the centuries have seen when they gaze into the mirror: "the prostitute whose business was so profitable that she could spend a fortune on costly oils; the friend, wife, or lover of the prophet from Nazareth; the disciple who concealed her Easter vision out of fear; the ecstatic who brought the world (or women only?) a new God; the repentant sinner whose penitence was as measureless as her sin; the saint who was so highly revered by a medieval biographer that he would have liked to write her name in letters of pure gold." Page ix.

Morning Briefing

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China's state-controlled Catholic church is considering ordaining seven more bishops, a senior official said Friday, in spite of a deepening rift with the Vatican over recent elevations lacking papal approval.

Philadelphia (and other) media continues to write about the Chaput appoitment:

Chaput won't lead Philadelphia Archdiocese quietly

‘Conservative’ Vatican ‘hardliner’ or ‘Evangelical’ Catholic?

How to be a Non-Communing Catholic

New Archbishop Chaput’s Tactics, What he knows —- and doesn't know —- about the sex-abuse scandal in Philadelphia's Catholic Church

Archbishop Chaput and Clericalism

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The new archbishop of Philadelphia can't complain that he didn't get to describe himself in most favorable terms in his lengthy interview in NCR.

It was his introduction to a wide audience and the portrait is glowing: smart as a whip, loving and humble, a brave spokesman for Catholic truth to dissenters who are, well, confused, without intending to be the least bit unkind.

The real cost of student loans

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I have a friend who is absolutely passionate about human rights, especially women’s rights. If she had her druthers, she would work full time to end the scourge of global human trafficking, especially trafficking in women and children. And she is highly qualified: a lawyer with an advanced degree in international law and organization.

The problem? Many of the non-profits that specialize in such work do not offer salaries large enough to allow her to pay her student loans in any kind of timely manner. Many young people believe they have to find high paying work in something like “corporate law” until the loans disappear. Then, they can do what they really care about.

The problem with that “solution,” as we know, is that people can get used to a large paycheck (even if a lot of it goes to loan payments) and never look back. They sometimes abandon their ideal work, and begin to “fit into” a corporate lifestyle.

Morning Briefing

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On birth control and NFP

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Yesterday's news that a government advisory panel recommends that all health care plans cover birth control (among other preventative health care for women) was followed by the predictable response from the U.S. bishops, arguing that, if implemented, it would violate freedom of conscience for Catholics.

I agree that religious folks have every right (and even the responsibility) to try to persuade our society, including our government, to adopt--or at least respect--their values, especially when it comes to human rights. But in the end, we all end up having to support, financially with our taxes, at least, things with which we disagree or even find abhorrent. That's democracy, for better or worse.

What caught my eye in the Washington Post story about the panel's report was mention of a Guttmacher study "that found that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women and nearly 100 percent of evangelicals have used contraception at some point, compared to 99 percent of women overall."

Yes, 98 percent. Talk about losing the persuasion battle.

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December 2-15, 2016

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