NCR Today

UC-Irvine priest-faculty member makes $10 million gift


In the good news department, the Orange County Business Journal is reporting:

A University of California, Irvine, professor who is an ordained Roman Catholic priest and has worked to establish common ground between science and religion in the debate over evolution donated $10 million to the School of Biological Sciences there.

Francisco J. Ayala will fund the gift—the largest by a faculty member in UCI's 46-year history—from a vineyard he has owned for decades.

"When you can do good things, you should do them," said Ayala, a native of Spain, in a statement. "This is a way of showing my gratitude to this university, which has been so good to me, where I have been able to do my research and teach wonderful students, and where I have been honored in so many ways. In a larger context, it's a way of expressing my gratitude to this country. I came to the United States as a student, with no intention to stay, and yet here I am."

Bishops bet on World Series outcome


According to the St. Louis archdiocese newspaper, St. Louis Review:

"Archbishop Robert J. Carlson (of St. Louis archdiocese) has prompted a World Series wager with former Cardinals fan, Bishop Kevin W. Vann from the Diocese of Fort Worth, TX, official home diocese of the Texas Rangers.

"Bishop Vann has strong ties to the St. Louis area. He is a Springfield, Illinois native and grew up watching the Springfield Cardinals, then farm team for the St. Louis Cardinals. He studied at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary and graduated in 1981. As a former Cardinals fan, Bishop Vann has agreed to a friendly wager on the series with Archbishop Carlson.

"If the Cardinals win, Bishop Vann will send a taste of authentic Texas BBQ along with a Stetson cowboy hat. If the Rangers take the title, Archbishop Carlson will send a taste of local St. Louis favorites, including toasted ravioli from The Hill, Gus's pretzels, locally-brewed Schlafly Beer and Fitz's Root Beer, along with a Cardinals baseball cap to replace the caps Bishop Vann discarded when he moved to Texas.

Morning Briefing


Brussels -- Roman Catholic bishops applaud ban on embryonic stem cell patents

Louisville, Ky. -- Officials field questions on hospital merger, dozens of questions about reproductive and end-of-life care, health insurance for employees and other issues.

South Bend, Ind. -- Federal Judge once again blocks St. Joseph's High School deal. Judge says city council favoring Catholic religion.

Phenix City, Ohio -- St. Patrick's Catholic Church free lunch program continues to gain steam

New book probes 'crisis of authority' in Catholicism


I've been writing and talking about responsible dissent in the church for about 20 years, and now comes a new book that examines the whole issue of authority from the viewpoint of history, theology, tradition, Scripture and canon law.

It is titled "The Crisis of Authority in Catholic Modernity." Among the contributors are heavyweights including Fr. Francis Sullivan,
Charles Taylor, Lisa Sowle Cahill and Francis Oakley.

Here is a review from America magazine.

Faith and presidential politics


An op-ed column in this morning's Washington Post caught my eye. It was titled "Why a Candidate's Faith Matters," and the author is Robert Jeffress, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas. Several days ago, when he introduced Rick Perry at a public event, he referred to Mormonism (the faith of both Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman) as a "cult." At the time, he was quite rightly criticized for religious bigotry.

Had he been introducing candidates in 1960, I wonder what he would have said about John F. Kennedy and his Catholicism.

In this column, Jeffress not only defended his remarks, he claimed that religion should play a role in deciding on a candidate for president. He acknowledges that Article VI of the Constitution says that there shall be no religious test for public office, but says that refers to government litmus tests, not individual judgments.

On this day: St. Frideswide


On this day Roman Catholics, Anglicans, and Eastern Orthodox Churches remember St. Frideswide, Patron of Oxford.

"Once upon a time in the fair city of Oxford, there lived Princess Frideswide who was as good as she was beautiful.

"The King, her father, ruled the people of his realm with clemency and justice, and she learnt the ways of the Church.

"The motherless child was tenderly looked after by gentle nuns who taught her to read and write and to play sweet music upon the harp and lyre."

--"St Frideswide: Oxford's Patron Saint," by Jane Curran, BBC Oxford, 2009.

Morning Briefing


A Case for Manners


The news that a major medical school had received a $42 million grant to teach its students bedside manners left me wanting to laugh and cry.

The laugh part is its apparent absurdity. Wouldn't it have already been covered in medical training? Wouldn't it be like teaching electrical circuitry to electricians already installing wires?


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In This Issue

June 16-29, 2017