NCR Today

Brussels archbishop 'shocked' by Vangheluwe's revelations


John Dick is a Belgium-based academic who sometimes contributes to NCR. He has been busy writing for us this year as the clergy sex abuse scandal exploded like mold spore and spread throughout Belgium.

Dick's latest piece is about the incendiary television interview that former bishop Roger Vangheluwe did for Flemish TV last week. See it here: Belgian bishop insists he is not a pedophile.

Dick was also busy for us this weekend. Here's a short story he sent today:

Louvain, Belgium -- Throughout this past Holy Week, as more sexual abuse revelations by Bishop Roger Vangheluwe were revealed, Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard said that he would have no comments until after Easter.

Easter Sunday, however, was media day for Léonard.

Léonard spoke out for the first time on Easter Sunday during his homily in the Brussels cathedral. There he called the televised interview with Vangheluwe "shocking" but said he would not go into the matter in his homily.

Vigils in support of Bourgeois


Demonstrations and vigils in support of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces dismissal from his order and laicization by the Vatican for his support of women's ordination, occurred outside of cathedrals and churches in at least six U.S. cities last week: Buffalo, N.Y.; Chicago; San Diego; Madison, Wis.; Syracuse, N.Y.; and Venice, Fla.

The vigils were co-sponsored by the groups Call to Action, Women's Ordination Conference and Roman Catholic Womenpriests.

The beginning of the Sisters of Loretto


A hundred and ninety-nine years ago, April 25, 1812, in central Kentucky, the Sisters of Loretto began. Five young women had established a teaching community in two dilapidated log cabins. By day the buildings were a kitchen and school. At night borders slept on the floor of the classroom and the aspirant sisters slept in the loft.

These women, as best we know, were all born in Maryland and moved to Kentucky with their families. To this day, Marion County is a center of Catholic congregations and institutions.

The sisters-to-be petitioned the bishop, through a local priest, Charles Nerinckx, to form a religious community. On this day, April 25, the first three "received the veil" at St. Charles parish church, though they continued to wear their own dresses, being too poor to buy new fabric and the veil may have been a poke bonnet. We don't have photos. On June 29 they elected Ann Rhodes superior. Father Nerinckx said, "You have chosen the youngest," and the sisters responded that "She is the most virtuous." By August they were six.

On this day: ???????


On this day, Easter Monday, we do not hear the first word Jesus spoke after his resurrection, because the translators of the New American Bible "the only English-language Lectionary that may be used at Mass in the dioceses of the United States", chose to omit it from Matthew's Gospel. Instead of quoting Jesus' salutation to the women who had just discovered the empty tomb, they simply say he "greeted them".

But in the original Greek, Matthew tells us Jesus said "???????" to the women. Be joying.

Beatification Q&A #1: What's the Rush?


Rome -- Over the course of this week, I’m offering a daily series of questions and answers in the run-up to the beatification of Pope John Paul II on Sunday. Today, we begin with perhaps the single most commonly asked question, both in the media and at the grassroots: What’s the rush? Why is this happening so fast, while other causes sometimes languish for centuries?

An Easter meditation


The Jewish Sabbath is over and three women arrive to anoint Jesus on this first day of the week just as the sun is rising. As the women walk toward the tomb they are saying, “Who will roll away the stone?” (Mark 16:3). We still have the same human question: “Who will roll away the stone of our various blockages and our blindness?”

The Risen Jesus is the lasting image and eternal icon of what God is going to do everywhere for everybody in all of time. God’s exact job description is this, according to St. Paul: I am the God “who turns death into life and calls into being what does not yet exist” (Romans 4:17). Starting in Genesis, Yahweh is always creating something out of nothing (creatio ex nihilo), which becomes the bedrock meaning of grace. Jesus stands forever as God’s promise, guarantee, and lifetime warranty of what God has always been about and will forever do: turn crucifixions into resurrections! What else would give us hope?

Protests persist and beatification nears


A growing lobby of churchmen and religious experts are challenging the speed with which the Vatican is propelling Pope John Paul II towards sainthood, just six years after his death, the Guardian reports.

Hailed as the pope who helped bring down communism, who prayed alongside Jews and Muslims, and shrugged off an assassination attempt, John Paul will be beatified in St Peter's Square next Sunday, a first step towards sainthood.

The Vatican is erecting tent cities and stocking up with millions of bottles of water. More than 300,000 people are expected to descend on Rome to honour the Polish pontiff whose charisma gave Catholicism a new lease of life.

But as the crowds begin to arrive, doubts are being expressed over the decision to begin beatification proceedings for John Paul immediately after his death in 2005, instead of observing the usual five-year waiting period.

Read the full story here.

Maureen Dowd on the beatification of John Paul II


And she in among the ranks of those who feel it's a mistake and sends the wrong signal to the faithful.

After Communism collapsed, John Paul offered a stinging critique of capitalism, presciently warning big business to stop pursuing profits “at any price.”

“The excessive hoarding of riches by some denies them to the majority,” he said, “and thus the very wealth that is accumulated generates poverty.”

As progressive as he was on those issues, he was disturbingly regressive on social issues — contraception, women’s ordination, priests’ celibacy, divorce and remarriage. And certainly, John Paul forfeited his right to beatification when he failed to establish a legal standard to remove pedophiles from the priesthood, and simply turned away for many years.

Santo non subito! How can you be a saint if you fail to protect innocent children?

Read her Times column here.

A working mom's Holy Week


There was a time when I did Easter Vigil. The longer, the better (I believe the record was an almost 4-hour service in Pasadena). Vigil Mass was the penultimate spiritual experience, culminating a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. And Holy Week was retreat-like: Palm Sunday Mass, a Holy Thursday Seder, a Good Friday program at a women’s spirituality center. And Vigil, always Vigil.

That was BK (Before Kids). It also was when I worked for church institutions oriented to the church calendar. Now my life is divided into semesters and governed by the timing of two toddlers.

Advent is known as “end of Fall semester” and most of it is spent grading papers and projects. Ash Wednesday sneaks up on me. “Lent, already?” And Holy Week: Let’s just say that the non-Catholic university where I teach holds classes for adult students on Holy Saturday.

The two children God has blessed me with also make it difficult to spend much time in formal prayer to Her. The longer Palm Sunday liturgy is too much for my son and daughter, and I would never think of interrupting the solemnity of a Good Friday service with “Mommy, I have to go poopy.”


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February 24-March 9, 2017