NCR Today

Saying No to Civil Religion


Mollie Ziegler in a "Get Religion" column provides a welcome correction to the idea that religious officials are offended by being left out of the 9/11 ceremonies.

Her own tradition, the Missouri Synod of the Lutheran Church, is among many religious groups who disapprove of rubber stamping secular causes because their theology requires a separate critique of worldly affairs. Their mission, broadly speaking, is to honor the integrity of the secular realm from a spiritual vantage point rather than becoming contiguous with it.

The New York memorial is especially fraught with temptations to endorse unintended purposes. While religious leaders would pray as one in memory of the dead the healing of survivors, the setting lends itself to other ends. For example, does it become a virtual acceptance of the wars waged in reaction to that terrible event? Does it imply support for the legal restrictions in its wake? And how does it keep from reawakening anti-Muslim sentiments?

Perhaps ministers, imams, rabbis, priests and all other clergy wouldn't be faced with such potential conflicts with their consciences but being on the platform would run the risk.

Anglican archbishop, once a Catholic priest, tells of abuse as seminarian


A story today in The Australian about Archbishop John Hepworth:

"AN Australian archbishop leading a breakaway Anglican faction that wants to reunite with Rome has revealed that he fled the Catholic priesthood after experiencing systematic sexual abuse over more than a decade."

Read the full story here

Dissent? Don't You Dare!


At the heart of most disagreement in the church today is the issue of dissent.

May a Catholic in some situations and in good conscience reject or contradict an authoritative teaching? Or must internal and external agreement be given to all?

This dilemma is the invisible elephant in the living room and the 800-lb. gorilla in the closet. Many Catholics are now convinced that turning away from any official teaching is sinful, even heretical -- as if salvation depends solely on obedience.

The new archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput put it this way a few days ago: The church is “no place for cafeteria Catholics,” he said. “If they don’t believe what the church teaches, they aren’t really Catholics.”

This oft repeated assumption is the main reason why there’s been such a stir recently over the more than 300 Austrian priests who declared publicly they will defy the hierarchy by giving communion to divorced Catholics who remarry without church permission, that they will allow women to preach at Mass, and that they support the ordination of women and married men.

The 9-11 Unity Walk


This coming Sunday, September 11th, I am once again honored to be the MC for the annual Unity Walk in Washington, DC. It’s an event that brings together people of many faith traditions to give public witness that we honor, respect and appreciate each other’s faith and religious heritage. It is intended to foster greater collaboration for peace, justice, and development.

It is especially important this year, because it falls on the 10th anniversary of 9-11. We expect a large number of many as 2,000.

The walk is indeed a faith journey. It begins at the synagogue of the Washington Hebrew Congregation with a Muslim call to prayer, a welcome by the leading rabbi (Bruce Lustig, a leading local interfaith leader), special remarks by a Muslim and by Bishop Barry Knestau, an auxiliary bishop Washington archdiocese.

Blessed Frederic Ozanam


My colleague, Gerelyn Hollingsworth, who writes the daily "saint of the day" blog, offered this today: "On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, husband, father, lawyer, author, Dante scholar, professor in the Sorbonne, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul."

As we say in Christian circles, God's providence contributed to the timing of a story NCR published on September 2, 2011, about the leadership of Joseph Flannigan, the outgoing president of the National Council of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, with a sidebar story on the incoming president -- the first woman to hold this post, Sheila Gilbert.

Just by the numbers, the legacy of Blessed Frederic Ozanam is staggering:

Praying for relief from our suffering


I just got this prayer for rain on the Internet.

Dear Heavenly Father,
You said whatsoever any two or more come together and agree and ask in Your Son's name, it shall be given. We come to you, humbly, and ask that you bring down the rain to our parched lands. Our farmers and ranchers need it desperately, as well as our firefighters. We ask this all in Jesus' name.

I immediately prayed this prayer. And I share it with you. I love Jesus' invitation to ask for what we want and I join with the victims of drought in wanting rain for them. But at the same time, I thought some contrition for our damage to the earth and our role in climate change would be appropriate. I began to rewrite the prayer.

Public prayer is political. Do we say Heavenly Father or Gracious God? Do we petition only for our own needs or do we include the foreigner? What do we repent and what do we propose to amend? How do we express our own strong desires without offending others in the congregation? Here's my first take.

On this day: Bl. Frederic Ozanam


On this day we celebrate the feast of Blessed Frederic Ozanam, husband, father, lawyer, author, Dante scholar, professor in the Sorbonne, founder of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

"Frederic Ozanam was schooled in law, literature and philosophy, and he taught at the university level in Lyon and Paris. Frederic and six companions founded the Society of St. Vincent de Paul on April 23, 1833. On June 23, 1841 Frederic married Amelie Soulacroix, and their child Marie, was born in 1845. This exemplar of the lay apostolate in the realms of family, society and intellect succumbed to ill health and died on September 8, 1853. Pope John Paul II beatified Frederic Ozanam in Paris on August 22, 1997, declaring September 9 as his feast day."

--Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

Morning Briefing


Jobs and the economy: As Obama urges action, GOP points to standing pat

German court says: Catholic institutions can fire staff for breaking rules, such as marriage vows.

Sunday Best? Church Leaders Blush at "Casual Catholic" Dress

Arkansas, 1962-1964: Vatican Council II draws weekly reports from Bishop Fletcher , Time Capsule: A 33-part series on history mined from the first 100 years of Arkansas Catholic and its predecessors.

BXVI: The unsung heroes of the Indian Church

Limits to growth


There are limits to growth. The asceticism of religion is an effort to teach ourselves to live within limits. But for all of America's self-proclamation as a nation under God, we are unwilling to accept the notion that there are limits, much less set them and strive to live within them.

There are global limits as well as national ones. But the U.S. is the richest, the most extravagant, always claiming to be No. 1. If only we could be No. 1 in living simply.

Take the current economic crisis. It's a bad situation and may get worse. A temporary fix is to grow ourselves out of it, either the Republican way by letting private enterprise loose to grow business and gain profits, or the Democratic way through a massive infrastructure jobs program and payroll tax cuts, putting money in people's pockets so that they will buy more, grow business and create profits.

It's the wrong answer to the wrong question. Neither greed nor consumer confidence is a virtue. What the political parties don't recognize is that there is plenty of work that needs to be done; but no one is willing to pay for it.

The \"spiritual but not religious\" debate


We all know folks who identify as “spiritual but not religious.” Do you have compassion, tolerance and understanding for their spiritual journeys? Or do you find them immature, shallow and a little bit boring?

A few weeks ago, a United Church of Christ minister, the Rev. Lillian Daniel of Glen Ellyn, Illinois, wrote a blog post entitled “Spiritual But Not Religious? Please Stop Boring Me.” In it, she vents about a recent flight during which a “spiritual but not religious” person tried to enlighten her about how he can find God in sunsets.

“Like people who go to church don't see God in the sunset! Like we are these monastic little hermits who never leave the church building. How lucky we are to have these geniuses inform us that God is in nature. As if we don’t hear that in the psalms, the creation stories and throughout our deep tradition.”

As you can tell, her tone is a bit snide and snarky:


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May 19-June 1, 2017