NCR Today

Catholic NY state senators face gay marriage vote

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In an article in the regional section of today’s New York Times, Michael Barbaro examines four members of a group of New York State Senator’s who have come to be known as the “Undecided Eight.”

They are “undecided” about how they will vote this week on the legalization of gay marriage. Their eight votes will determine the outcome.

Three of the four senators profiled in this piece are Italian Catholics. One of them is Staten Island’s Andrew Lanza, who shares a story about an exchange that he had with his priest. The striking account of their conversation not only shows Lanza using his primacy of conscience, but also overcoming his own internalized clericalism:

Mr. Lanza, who is Roman Catholic and voted against same-sex marriage in 2009, found himself on the phone recently with a priest he has known for three decades. The priest was adamant. Redefining marriage, he told Mr. Lanza, “would cause more harm than good for everyone involved,” he recalled.

The aftermath of war

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The classic just war theory has a great deal to say about justifications for going to war, and about the proper conduct of war once it’s being fought. But it says almost nothing about the aftermath of war. (For the record, I think this whole theory is defunct. There is probably no such thing as a “just war” in the 21st century. Just for starters, how does one make the required distinction between combatants and civilians?)

The weapons of modern warfare often leave horrific legacies that create death and havoc after a war. Think about the radiation after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the unexploded land mines around the globe, the depleted uranium in Iraq, and the legacy of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Central Africa desperate for world attention bishops, CRS tell US gov't

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Below is a media statment released today from the U.S. bishops' conference and Catholic Relief Service.

As background, here are two related news reports:

The bishops' statement

USCCB AND CRS CALL FOR SPECIAL ENVOY, COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY FOR DRC AND GREAT LAKES REGION

Morning Briefing

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Theologians leave San Jose lifted after pondering saints

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SAN JOSE, Calif. -- As Catholic Theological Society of America members wrapped up a four-day sojourn in this thriving, multi-ethnic, technologically driven city of close to a million, a city idyllically tucked onto the southern edge of the San Francisco Bay and protected from harsh climate by mountains on three sides, a city boasting 300 sunny days annually with average temperatures in mid-‘70s, a city near the wildly confident Santa Clara University, it’s easy to leave here imagining, if only momentarily, a loving church unencumbered by division and blatant human frailty, is actually possible and not just a distant dream.

NCR in the field (and convention hall) this weekend

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NCR reporters are in the field (and convention halls) this weekend. Watch the web site for reports from

NCR editor Tom Fox is in San Jose, Calif., for the annual gathering of the Catholic Theological Society of America. He has filed these stories already. More are to come.

Baptism, not bishops or pope, unites the church

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DETROIT -- "Baptism unites the church, not ordination," theologian and author Anthony T. Padovano told more than 1,800 reform-minded Catholics gathered June 10-12 at Detroit's Cobo Hall.

Addressing the inaugural national meeting of the American Catholic Council June 11, he said, "The pope does not unify or sanctify the church and make it catholic or apostolic. This is the work of the Spirit and the community. The pope is an institutional sign of a unity already achieved by the faithful. The pope does not create a community of believers or validate baptisms or make the Eucharist occur."

Listening: A Prelude for Change or a Strategy for Appeasement?

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John Thavis writes from Rome for Catholic News Service that the new head of the Congregation for Religious is sounding as if his mission is to be a bridge over troubled waters.

Archbishop Joao Braz de Aviz has spoken in favor of "a more positive view of religious" and a mending of rifts between the Vatican and orders resulting from a number of tensions including those produced by the sweeping investigation of U.S. orders.

His presciption for success tries to balance the old ideal of nuns as "models of fidelity" with a nod to the Vatican II appeal to "pay attention to today's culture."

To do this, the archibishop has vowed to listen.

That approach, according to Thavis and others, has given some religious leaders hope that things will get better. Listening, said Sister Mary Lou Wertz, president of the International Union of Superiors General, entails "open sharing" and by inference an openness to change.

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May 19-June 1, 2017

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