NCR Today

Is thought dead?


The Internet, Twitter and social networks must be killing all nuanced thought. Must be, because very smart people keep saying this.

The latest is social critic and historian Neal Gabler, writing in the Los Angeles Times. Gabler touts the Zuckerberg Revolution (named after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg) as the follow-up of the Gutenberg Revolution that was sparked by the invention of movable type and the printed word.

NCR Web columnist on the radio


NCR Web columnist Phyllis Zagano did some radio work over the weekend, discussing Pope Benedict XVI and condoms with 1010 WINS in New York and the CBS program "Weekend Roundup."

In the Roundup, Zagano comes in near the end of Segment Two (about 15 minutes in) with a straight forward message: Catholic teaching is you cannot knowingly infect another person with a disease, so just as you wear a face mask in a flu epidemic, one must use a condom if necessary to protect the other person.

Listen here.

A year later, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin still 'gets it'


Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has consistently voiced opinions and insights about the sex abuse scandal in Ireland that are remarkably different from those we’ve heard from hierarchy in the United States. The expression that often captured Catholics’ exasperation with bishops’ seeming lack of understanding of the depth of the problem was “They don’t get it.”

Martin does.

A year after release of the Murphy Report, the results of the government investigation into clergy abuse in Dublin that was based in large part on documentation Martin gave over to investigators, the archbishop’s anguish is still evident.

In comments recently posted on the archdiocesan website, Martin wrote:

One year later, I unequivocally repeat what I said on publication of the Report: “the Archdiocese of Dublin failed to recognise the theft of childhood which survivors endured and the diocese failed in its responses to [survivors] when they had the courage to come forward, compounding the damage done to their innocence. For that no words of apology will ever be sufficient”.

Number of poor countries on the rise, UN report finds


The number of very poor countries has doubled in the last 30 to 40 years, while the number of people living in extreme poverty has also grown two-fold, a UN think-tank warned Thursday.

In its annual report on the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) in the world, the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said that the model of development that has prevailed to date for these countries has failed and should be re-assessed.

"The traditional models that have been applied to LDCs that tend to move the LDCs in the direction of trade-related growth seem not to have done very well," said Supachai Panitchpakdi, secretary general of UNCTAD.

"What happened is that in the past 30-40 years, the number of LDCs have doubled so it has actually deteriorated, the number of people living under the poverty line has doubled from the 1980s."
The report indicated that the situation has sharply deteriorated in the past few years.

Most Americans like the new health care law, side with Democrats on tax issues


It's welcomed news that most Americans have not lost their minds on two major political issues facing the nation. A post-election McClatchy poll finds that a majority of Americans want Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it.

The post-election survey showed that 51 percent of registered voters want to keep the law or change it to do more, while 44 percent want to change it to do less or repeal it altogether.

Driving support for the law: Voters by margins of 2-1 or greater want to keep some of its best-known benefits, such as barring insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions. One thing they don’t like: the mandate that everyone must buy insurance.

At the same time, the survey showed that a majority of voters side with the Democrats on another hot-button issue, extending the Bush era tax cuts that are set to expire Dec. 31 only for families making less than $250,000.

Pink slip as wedding gift?


It's these kinds of stories that scare gay and lesbian people who work for Catholic institutions.

Last month Laine Tadlock, director of the education program at Benedictine University in Springfield, retired under pressure after the publication of a wedding announcement about Tadlock's marriage to her partner, Kae Helstrom. They were married in Iowa.

The university insists she was not fired, and was offered another position, which Tadlock did not accept. Yet, in a statement, they confirm that negative reaction to the public wedding announcement forced them to act.

"It was not Tadlock’s orientation, but rather the public disregard for fundamental Catholic beliefs which was the basis for the university’s decisions. These decisions were made only after full discussion with the appropriate diocesan officials," the statement said.

The Condom Conundrum


We’re seeing as good a sideshow as Catholicism produces. According to Rachel Zoll of the Associated Press, many “prominent conservative Roman Catholics in the U.S.” are questioning the Vatican’s own explanation of what Pope Benedict said about condoms in a new book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.

As best anyone can decipher, the Pope approves of the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, and thus save lives. (I’ve always thought that this is an obvious “pro-life” position). But apparently, several of the most orthodox Catholics who have been bad-mouthing condoms for any reason – even to save lives –await a formal papal statement. Some have even questioned whether the Vatican spokesperson, Rev. Frederico Lombardi, accurately interpreted the papal position.

In an ironic twist, Jon O’Brien of Catholics for Choice welcomed the statement. In fact, I think his statement is perhaps the first time I have ever seen his organization praise something the Pope has said!

Thanksgiving with Native Americans


This Thanksgiving on Interfaith Voices, we decided not to focus on the story of the Puritans. Instead, we explored the faith of the Wampanoag People, the Native Americans who were already living in New England when the Puritans arrived. Our guests were two Native American women: Ramona Peters who is Wampanoag herself, and Clara Sue Kidwell, who traces her heritage to the Choctaw and Chippewa peoples.

Both described a Native American spirituality that celebrated nature in all its movement, beauty and bounty. Native peoples, they said, do not see themselves (as the Puritans did) as submitting to the will of an all-powerful God, but as responsible participants in a spiritual world where their actions matter, for good or for ill. Those of us who treasure our natural environment could learn a lot from that perspective.

Especially noteworthy is the fact that the Wampanoag People treated the Puritans with great religious tolerance, but the Puritans – who came to North America seeking religious freedom for themselves – did not treat the Wampanoag People with similar tolerance.

Add meaning to your Christmas card wishes


Want to add more meaning to this Christmas season? Want to help a prison ministry with each Christmas card you pen? Consider supporting the Christmas card project, a ministry of the capable and caring Mercy Sister Camille D’Arienzo.

Many Catholics are already familiar with D’Arienzo. Writer, teacher, radio commentator, former Leadership Conference of Women Religious president, she is also founder of the anti-death penalty group, Cherish Life Circle. The group is perhaps best known for its Declaration of Life.


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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016