NCR Today

Morning Briefing


On birth control and NFP


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.

Pope approves gay marriage! ;)


"Vatican City – In a stunning and unexpected reversal of long-standing doctrine, Pope Benedict XVI proclaimed the Roman Catholic Church's unequivocal support of gay Marriage Tuesday, just hours after meeting Stonington, CT couple Tony Ruggiero and Craig Housinger."

So began an article in the July 13 issue of the satirical weekly, the Onion. According to the paper, Pope Benedict was deeply moved after "sharing an afternoon of engaging conversation and hearty laughter with the gay couple." Benedict was quoted as finding them "fun, gracious, and simply wonderful company."

A better end


The paramedics had just brought my father into the emergency room. It was long after midnight, and his breathing was labored -- I was used to it, after his years of struggle with emphysema and a weak heart, but this was different.

Within a few minutes, ER doctors had sized up the situation, and looked at me. One of them asked: "We're going to have to put in a breathing tube. That OK?" I nodded. I didn't know what else to do. They began their work, and a young, disheveled intern stepped up next to me. "Once they put the tube in," he said, "that's usually it. You can't keep going without it."

And I knew: my family and I would have some decisions to make.

New bishop appointment to Savannah, Ga.


In other bishop appointment news besides Archbishop Chaput going to Philadelphia:

Pope Benedict XVI has chosen a metro Atlanta priest to be the new bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Savannah, which governs parishes in 90 south Georgia counties.

The diocese announced Tuesday that the Rev. Gregory John Hartmayer will succeed Bishop J. Kevin Boland, who is retiring after 52 years in the priesthood.

On this day: Pope Leo XIII


On this day in 1903, Pope Leo XIII died. He was 93 years old. He had reigned since 1878.

In 1887, when Therese of Lisieux kissed his slipper and begged him to allow her to enter Carmel at the age of fifteen, he appeared "so old that one would say he is dead; I would never have pictured him like this. He can hardly say anything". But Pope Leo XIII lasted another sixteen years.

Click here to listen to him chanting the Ave Maria a few months before his death.

Morning Briefing


A reader request


We have a reader who is looking for a DVD copy of the ABC television show "Nothing Sacred," a critically acclaimed program that ran for the 1997-1998 season. Anybody have ideas? Submit suggestions in the comment boxes below.

The Internet Movie Database describes the show: "Kevin Anderson plays Father Ray, a passionate priest/teacher who questions his calling, his existence, and his faith as he deals with the problems of the poor and the troubled."

A Jesuit priest, William P. Cain, was one of the screen writers.

The show, according to, was about "a maverick priest in an urban parish [who] struggles with religious and secular pressures in a series that was both praised and panned for its frank handling of sensitive issues such as AIDS and abortion."

Experiencing the Procession of La Conquistadora


I spent a week in Santa Fe earlier this month and had the privilege of participating in an impressive procession organized by the Catholic faithful in this city, a place that is so filled with religious symbols its name even means "Holy Faith."

Catholic processions are not seen as much in various parts of the country anymore. However, here in the Southwest, especially among Latino Catholics, processions are still very much a part of the Catholic tradition.


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017