NCR Today

Godly presence at fashion show


As part of Fashion Week in New York City, this story is from Friday's New York Post:

"Father Andrew O'Connor presided over a "wedding" at designer Tara Subkoff's Imitation of Christ presentation at the W Hotel Union Square yesterday afternoon, where Lydia Hearst played the bride. But it's not O'Connor's first foray into the fashion world -- he runs Goods of Conscience, a Guatemala-sourced sustainable-fabric clothing manufacturer that made a pair of shorts Cameron Diaz wore on Vogue's cover two years ago."

A Catholic take on 9/11: A day of ëspiritual globalization'


In church circles in Italy, Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, is sometimes half-jokingly referred to as un cardinale laico, a “lay cardinal.” Technically, that’s not accurate – the last of the lay cardinals died in 1899, and even those guys were in minor orders and thus technically clerics. Yet the phrase nonetheless captures Riccardi’s exalted status as a papal confidante, Vatican insider, and molder of Catholic opinion.

Known as the "U.N. of Trastevere" for the Roman neighborhood where the group is headquartered, Sant'Egidio is celebrated for its work in ecumenism, inter-religious dialogue, and conflict resolution. Among other things, Sant'Egidio has negotiated peace accords in global hotspots such as Mozambique and Uganda.

tThis week, Sant’Egidio’s annual interreligious meeting for peace is taking place in Munich, Germany. (Just to illustrate that the cachet of Riccardi and Sant’Egidio is not limited to ecclesiastical venues, Germany’s President Christian Wulff attended the opening ceremonies, and Chancellor Angela Merkel made a point of meeting Riccardi.)

On this day: Most Holy Name of Mary


On this day we celebrate the feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary.

For an explanation of the feast, see The Liturgical Year, the great classic by the Right Reverend Dom Prosper Guéranger, Abbot of Solesmes, pages 171-195. From that:

"Two glorious triumphs, two victories won under the protection of our Lady, have rendered this present day illustrious in the annals of the Church and of history.

Morning Briefing


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.


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July 14-27, 2017