NCR Today

Vatican brings ambivalence to Libya summit


A Vatican diplomat will take part in a high-level diplomatic summit on Libya scheduled for tomorrow in London, a news release today announced, marking a further indication that the Vatican is paying careful attention to events there -- though still without taking a concrete position on the legitimacy of the military operations now underway.

So far, signals from the Vatican on Libya have seemed decidedly mixed.

How Many were Slaughtered in Hama?


In 1982, Syria’s secularist dictator, Hafez Assad, father of the country’s current ruler, brutally put down protests in the city of Hama, a stronghold of the Muslim Brotherhood. Today, analysts and pundits tell us we should review Assad Sr.’s behavior toward Hama for clues as to how his son will react to the uprising spreading in his country.

Thirty years ago, the senior Assad ordered the murder of thousands of his countrymen in Hama. But how many thousands?

That depends on whom you ask:
-- Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Ted Koppel put the number at 80,000.
-- The New York Daily News, in an editorial, says it was “upward of 25,000.”
-- Michael Tomasky, columnist for The Guardian, says the Syrian Government “slaughtered maybe 20,000 of its own people.”

On this day: St. Stephen Harding


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Stephen Harding, an Englishman who was one of the three founders of the Cistercian Order. He served as Abbot of Citeaux from 1109 until his death in 1134.

Stephen Harding's date of birth is unknown, although it is presumed to have been in the middle of the 11th century. His parents' names are unknown, but we know that as a boy, he was educated at Sherborne Abbey.

Marquette to make history


Marquette University’s “Golden Eagles” take on the North Carolina Tar Heels tonight as part of the NCAA basketball tournament. I, and millions more, will be watching.

But the real history, the story that will likely be remembered long after the final whistle sounds in Newark, N.J., is likely here, where university president Robert Wild announces that the school will soon offer employment benefits to “domestic partnerships.”

Will the local church hierarchy, Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki most prominently, feel compelled to condemn the expansion of health and other benefits to same-sex couples? Is another mostly tiresome dispute over the “Catholic identity” of a Jesuit institution that enacts such policies about to begin?

I’d bet more money on that than I would on a Golden Eagles victory.

Images of war and peace in my inbox


Images of the depraved and heroically good appeared in my inbox this week.

Tuesday’s email included a link to an article in the German newsweekly Der Spiegel that contained photos of American soldiers smiling and posing beside the corpses of Aghan civilians they have just killed.

This was followed by an exuberant update from my husband, Scott, describing a morning walk through the Afghan capital, Kabul, during which he photographed a man in a shop with a “terrific face” and a beautiful child.

The “Kill Team” photos, first published in Der Spiegel on Monday, show the aftermath of the deliberate murders of Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. Stryker unit that operated in southern Afghanistan last year. These are the same soldiers who, according to various press accounts, cut off the thumbs of some of their victims for “trophies.”

Pope picks Augustinian nun to write Good Friday meditations


Pope picks Augustinian nun to write Good Friday meditations

By Sarah Delaney
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI chose an Augustinian nun to author the texts for this year's Way of the Cross procession on Good Friday, the Vatican announced March 25.

Mother Maria Rita Piccione, a contemplative nun who leads the Federation of Augustinian Nuns, wrote the texts that will be read at each of the 14 stations, the Vatican statement said.

Each year, the pope selects a different person to author the texts that mark the steps in the solemn, candlelight ceremony that begins at Rome's Colosseum and leads toward the nearby Forum and Palatine Hill.

Mother Piccione, who lives in the cloistered convent attached to the Four Crowned Saints church in Rome, is the third living woman to be chosen to write the meditations. The previous two were chosen by Pope John Paul: Mother Anna Maria Canopi of the Mater Ecclesiae Abbey in Isola San Guilio, Italy, wrote them in 1993, and Sister Minke de Vries, a nun in the Protestant community of Grandchamp, Switzerland, wrote the texts in 1995.

Newsflash to Dolan: Catholics lead on gay equality


Some of you may have stopped to cringe when Archbishop Dolan, in a segment of his interview webcast on 60 Mintues Overtime, compared the strong desire of a gay couple to be married to his strong desire to play shortstop for the Yankees.

The punch line: “I may have a desire to play short stop, but that doesn’t mean I have a right to it because I don’t have what it takes. And that would be what the church would say about marriage.”

But if you cringed too long (or were distracted by sudden, unusual thoughts of Derek Jeter), you may have missed his following, remarkable statement.

Before I reveal it, I must note that Dolan never once utters the words gay, lesbian or homosexual during his comments on marriage. He consistently uses vague language, as you’ll note in the quote below. This in and of itself is intriguing. But then, while pontificating about who has a right to marriage, he says this:

On this day: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire


On this day, a century ago, 146 people lost their lives as a result of the fire at the Triangle Waist Company. Most were burned to death. At least fifty jumped out windows to be smashed on the pavement nine stories below.

Click here to read their names. Clicking a victim's name will bring up more information: married or single, religion, counry of origin, how long in the U.S., address, burial place, union member.


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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017