NCR Today

Catholic University honors Ambassador Thomas Melady

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WASHINGTON – The Catholic University of America March 14 honored an alumnus and former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See, Thomas P. Melady, for a lifetime of achievement in service to his church, his country and the academic world.

The university's Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies presented Melady with it first Bishop John Keane medallion, which bears the Latin inscription, "Academia, patria, ecclesia" – "Academia, country, church." It is intended to be awarded annually from now on.

Hear Tom Roberts on the Philadelphia scandal

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As most NCR readers know, the sex abuse scandal broke out anew in February in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A grand jury issued a scathing report, indicating that as many as 37 priests with credible accusations of child sexual abuse or inappropriate activity with a minor were still functioning as priests.

Initially, Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, denied that any such priests were still in ministry. Six days later, three were suspended. And within the past week, 21 more were suspended.

After reading these facts, which fly in the face of the “zero tolerance” policy enacted by the U.S. Catholic Bishops in their famous “Dallas Charter,” I was stunned.

And this immediately raised for me other questions: Is Philadelphia the only place where bishops are not in compliance? Can we trust the bishops to follow their own directives and guidelines? Is there need for someone to enforce compliance with the Dallas Charter?

Morning Briefing

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Support for gay marriage

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In a featured commentary in Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle titled "My gay son: the human face of church's lack of respect," the former executive director of Catholic Charities in San Francisco says that the Church's teaching that marriage is "intrinsic to stable, flourishing and hospitable societies" is, ironically, the very reason why gay men and women in committed loving relationships should be allowed to join in civil marriages.

Gay and lesbian couples are "seeking a structure and context for their love, commitment, fidelity and mutual support," writes Brian Cahill, whose gay son and partner are "brilliant, creative, personable, moral … and certainly not 'objectively disordered'" as declared by the 2003 Vatican statement.

Cahill tackles the argument that homosexuals should not be parents, citing the high divorce rate among heterosexual couples and the 75,000 children in California's foster care system who have been victimized by their heterosexual parents. "These mothers and fathers are living proof that sexual orientation is not a reliable indicator of good parenting."

Dominican priest, Kurt Pritzl, O.P., goes home to God

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My friend and philosophy professor at the Catholic University of America, Dominican priest Kurt Pritzl, Dean of CUA's School of Philosophy, died on February 21, 2011.

Our good friend, Ed Gorman, O.P., offered a moving eulogy of this extraordinary priest. The video of the eulogy can be viewed here.

Catholic University's remembrance can be read here.

May Kurt, O.P., rest in peace.

Horse Trades for the Common Good

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There is a reason the Vatican does not allow nuns and priests to run for public office. Politicians, by the nature of their work, must make compromises. They have to work with people who hold different values than their own.

The Vatican expects us nuns and priests to be true believers. But it has canonized kings, the quintessential deal-makers.

These days in the United States, voters have elevated ideologues to high office, electing them ostensibly to serve us. But what they serve is their own ideology, not the common good. So we have people elected as pro-life who oppose abortion but vote to cut food aid to new mothers and their infants, who support the federal death penalty, and who have never seen a military program they didn’t like -- and who favor Styrofoam and incandescent light bulbs.

In order to serve the common good, politicians have to be willing to horse-trade, and they have to be good at it. It’s not like bluffing at poker and it’s not Russian roulette. The best politicians make deals where everyone walks away feeling like they gained something. Instead, these days we measure success by the measure of humiliation we heap on the loser.

Are we the Dupes?

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Republicans seeking additional budget cuts argue that the country "is broke" and simply can't afford such luxuries as assistance to those who need help paying their heating bills.

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne notes in his current column that the major problem with this analysis is that it is not true.

The contention that "we are broke," says Dionne, is smart politics and those promoting it deserve "full credit for diverting our attention with an arresting metaphor." But, he warns, "The rest of us are dupes if we fall for it.

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December 2-15, 2016

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