NCR Today

U2's Bono on Sargent Shriver

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Bono, the lead singer of the band U2 and a co-founder of the advocacy group ONE and (Product)RED, and contributing columnist for The New York Times, offers this reflection on the life of Sargent Shriver:

The Irish are still mesmerized by the mythical place that is America, but in the ’60s our fascination got out of hand. I was not old enough to remember the sacrifices of the great generation who saved Europe in the Second World War, or to quite comprehend what was going on in Vietnam. But what I do remember, and cannot forget, is watching a man walk on the moon in 1969 and thinking here is a nation that finds joy in the impossible.

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Major Islamic university in Egypt suspends ties with Vatican

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Al-Azhar University in Cairo, a prestigious institution sometimes called “the Vatican of the Islamic world,” today announced it is suspending its long-standing dialogue with the Vatican in protest over Pope Benedict XVI’s recent demand for protection of Egypt’s Coptic Christians.

The decision by the university’s Islamic Research Academy was reported this morning by the Catholic media agency “Asia News.”

The move by Al-Azhar, a state-sponsored institution widely seen as close to the Egyptian government, comes after Egypt also recalled its ambassador to the Holy See in protest over what it called “interference” by Benedict XVI in the country’s internal affairs.

The chill in relations between Egypt and the Vatican could have broad implications for Catholic/Muslim relations. As recently as late November, for example, the country’s state-appointed Grand Mufti, Sheikh Ali Gomaa, was a featured speaker at the New York launch of a major research project at Notre Dame titled “Contending Modernities.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. and noisy contemplation

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On this week’s Interfaith Voices, we deal with a number of topics: the religious dimensions of the Arizona shooting tragedy (a wonderful conversation with EJ Dionne), a rundown of the religious composition of the new Congress, and a special look at Eric Cantor, the new House Majority Leader, who is –- religiously speaking -– a rare species: a Jewish Republican. We probe why most Jews are democrats.

But our final interview is with Lewis V. Baldwin, author of a new book: Never to Leave Us Alone: The Prayer Life of Martin Luther King, Jr. Baldwin is a Professor of Religious Studies at Vanderbilt University, and this is the third book he has written on King.

King is someone who inspired me as a young person to become involved in social justice and peace. Since his assassination in 1968, we have heard a great deal about King’s activism, his speeches and sermons. But this is the first work published on his prayer life. And it probably reveals the source of his inner strength.

Hungary bishops resigns amid investigation for fraud, other crimes

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From the Associated Press:

Hungary's Catholic Church says that a bishop whose diocese is being investigated by police and prosecutors for fraud and other crimes has resigned.

The Hungarian Conference of Catholic Bishops says that Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Mihaly Mayer and named Andras Veres to temporarily oversee his duties in the Diocese of Pecs, in southern Hungary.

Head of Vatican's finance watchdog named

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Catholic News Service reports:

Pope names head of Vatican investments to new watchdog agency

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Benedict XVI named the president of the Vatican's investment agency to head a new watchdog agency charged with monitoring all Vatican financial operations.

Italian Cardinal Attilio Nicora, 73, is president of the new Financial Information Authority, which the pope instituted Dec. 30 to oversee the monetary and commercial activities of all Vatican-related institutions, including the Vatican bank.

The pope also named the members of the four-person executive board.

Read the full story: Pope names head of Vatican investments to new watchdog agency

Gun Shy but Smelling Smoke

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I'm skittish about using the "smoking gun" analogy with reference to the Vatican's go-slow-on-abuse letter to the Irish bishops. Tucson's still in the rear view mirror and, besides, guns shouldn't smoke either.

But with all due respect to John Allen, his effort to reduce the significance of the Vatican's warning to a "public relations embarrassment" that doesn't rise to the level of a deadly weapon misses the point in my opinion.

The "1997 letter" as it will be exhibited in the court document doesn't itself carry the decisive load of guilt. It is, rather, this item adds to the cumulative stack of evidence of malfeasance.

As burden of proof grows, the efforts to explain the evidence as a misunderstanding of good intentions or as so historically conditioned that it would have made common sense at the time become even less credible. Ambiguity doesn't neutralize primary motivations.

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December 2-15, 2016

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