NCR Today

Morning Briefing


On banning girl altar servers


I hate waking up to this kind of news: a headline about the rector at the Phoenix cathedral who has decided to ban girls as altar servers, even though nothing in current church law forbids it. Like the church isn't getting enough bad press already!

Already there have been some perceptive reactions (including from NCR's own Michael Sean Winters, who makes several important points) as well as from the Women's Ordination Conference and U.S. Catholic magazine's blog.

Let me add my two cents.

They say you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube, but here in the church there are some who refuse to quit trying. Despite consistent moves toward more openness and acceptance (of laity, of women, of gays and lesbians) in both society and the church, these folks fail to recognize this movement as coming from the Holy Spirit.

Reactions to 'No Girl Servers' in Phoenix story


I noted this story -- Phoenix diocese cathedral won't allow girl altar servers, Altar duties called part of priesthood prep -- in the Morning Briefing today and Michael Sean Winters commented on it (No Altar Girls at Phoenix Cathedral).

Here is what the Women's Ordination Conference has to say:

Women's Ordination Conference Decries Ban on Altar Girls in Phoenix Diocese

Contact: Erin Saiz Hanna, 202 675-1006,

WASHINGTON, DC - August 22, 2011 - Girls will no longer be allowed to serve as altar servers during Mass at the cathedral of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix, SS. Simon and Jude. In response, Women's Ordination Conference has issued an action alert calling on the Diocese to immediately reinstate female altar servers in that parish.

Disturbing the universe


Last week, I showed the documentary "William Kunstler: Disturbing the Universe" to a group of attorneys and other interested persons. It’s really an amazing account.

The two filmmakers are his daughters from his second marriage. They were in high school when he defended the accused attackers of the Central Park jogger, the accused killer of Rabbi Kahane who founded the Jewish Defense League, and the first World Trade Center accused bombers.

The young girls were embarrassed when their friends asked why their father would defend such men and Kunstler’s wife was terrified because the family was receiving death threats. Then Kunstler died of a heart attack. His daughters grew up to be documentary filmmakers and decided to learn themselves and tell the story of their famous father’s life.

My hope is that people will stay for half an hour after the screening to talk about the need for better defense than the overworked public defenders are currently able to provide. I would really like to have a group of attorneys who meet regularly to review not only claims of innocence but also parole hearings, jail conditions and misuse of prosecutorial power.

Avatar of secularism faces blowback for pro-papal line


Lord Palmerston, the 19th century British Prime Minister, famously said that in politics there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies, only permanent interests. Benedict XVI would probably concur on the strength of his experience in Madrid the last few days, where liberal and secular currents in Spanish society have voiced outrage over the blatantly pro-papal line emanating from -- of all places -- the government of Socialist Prime Minister José Luis Rodr'guez Zapatero.

On this day: Mother and Queen


On this day we celebrate the feast of Our Lady, Mother and Queen.

My Queen! My Mother! I give myself entirely to thee; and to show my devotion to thee, I consecrate to this this day my eyes, my ears, my mouth, my heart, my whole being, without reserve. Wherefore, good Mother, as I am thine own, keep me, guard me, as thy property and possession.

--The Catholic Girl's Guide, edited by the Rev. Francis X. Lasance, Benziger Brothers, 1906.

Morning Briefing


Washington Public to get first glimpse of King memorial, The site is opening Monday morning without fanfare to kick off a week of celebrations ahead of Sunday's official dedication.

Phoenix diocese cathedral won't allow girl altar servers, Altar duties called part of priesthood prep

Illinois Catholic Charities loses ruling on foster care, Judge rules state is not obligated to renew agencies' contracts

Philadelphia priests gather amid abuse crisis, Many clergy feel uninformed by church, group says

Georgetown, China basketball coaches and players meet a day after on-court brawl


From the front page of The Washington Post:

Members of Georgetown University’s basketball team held a make-up session with the Chinese military team, the Bayi Rockets, one day after their chair-throwing, on-court brawl led to an abrupt end to their “friendly” exhibition game and prompted an online outpouring of disgust by Chinese fans.

A statement on the Georgetown team’s Web site said the two sides met Friday morning following “heated exchanges in an exhibition game Thursday evening.” The statement said Georgetown Coach John Thompson III and Bayi Coach Adi Jiang and their team members “shared a very cordial and friendly meeting.”

Climate Change: the "Silent?" Issue


If there is any clear mandate in Christianity, it is the call to care for our planet, for the natural world that God has entrusted to us. But for decades now, scientists have been warning us about the dangers of climate change, and the fact that human activity is the major cause of it. It is a consensus endorsed even by the Vatican.

Enter Rick Perry. He announced on the campaign trail that he does not believe that climate change is caused by human action. I’m not sure what planet he is living on, but he seems to have missed the entire scientific consensus on this issue.


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June 16-29, 2017