NCR Today

President Obama in his comfort zone


Watching President Obama’s State of the Union address last night, I couldn’t help but feel the comfort level that he seemed to exude. The speech seemed similar in tone to his Tucson one that received widespread support and has bolstered his popularity rating.

The tone and substance of both speeches have focused on national unity and addressing key problems in particular economic ones without partisan polarization.

But is this a new Obama? I don’t think so. I believe it is the real Obama.

These two speeches have been similar to his address to the Democratic Party convention in 2004 that brought the president into national prominence.

Remember one of his famous lines in that speech? “There are no red states or blue states, there is only the United States of America.”

The Tucson and the State of the Union are a continuation of that convention speech where Obama attempts to transcend partisanship and represents himself as the Great Unifier.

Obama, it seems to me, is at his best and seems more comfortable not leading the Democratic Party, but as a good lawyer bringing together disputing sides. His comfort level is best mediating rather than leading a fight.

Morning Briefing


Anti-torture activists conclude weeks-long fast


Activists with Witness Against Torture have just concluded a week and a half-long fast in support of activities to close the U.S. military's detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Catholic Worker Jake Olzen was part of the fast in Washington, and has filed a piece for us on the events.

Take a look at Olzen's story: Activists fast, call for Guantanamo closure.

'Pax ≠vobiscum' - The forger's story


I opened up this past weekend's edition of the Financial Times and noticed a curious headline about a "forger." It quickly became apparent that writer was doing an in-depth piece on the faux Jesuit priest "donating" fake paintings to museums.

"One morning last September, a visitor arrived at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum in Lafayette, Louisiana. ... His name was Father Arthur Scott, he was dressed in the outfit of a Jesuit priest with a Society of Jesus lapel pin, and he bore a gift.

A few weeks before, Father Scott had sent a letter postmarked Michigan to the museum, an elegant institution attached to the University of Louisiana. His mother, an art collector from Philadelphia, had died, and his sister Emily was still in Paris sorting out the estate, he wrote. His mother had left a number of paintings, including a pastel drawing by Charles Courtney Curran, which he wanted to donate. He planned to return with others and the family was also likely to make a financial donation.

Read the full story

Courtyard of the Gentiles


Vatican's culture council launches new world forum for evangelization

By Carol Glatz Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY -- The Pontifical Council for Culture is launching an international forum to promote dialogue between Catholics and non-believers.

The new Vatican network and forum, called the "Courtyard of the Gentiles," will be inaugurated in Paris March 25.

According to a Jan. 25 press release from the council, events will span two days and include lectures, a roundtable discussion and an outdoor party in front of the Cathedral of Notre Dame.

The lectures will center on the theme "Religion, Enlightenment and Common Reason," and will be held at UNESCO headquarters, the Sorbonne and the French Institute. The roundtable discussion will be held at the College des Bernardins.

Music, art, theater and a light show will be included in the evening celebration, called "Into the Courtyard of the Unknown," in front of the Paris cathedral March 25. A prayer vigil and moment for reflection will be held inside the cathedral, too, the council said.

Oprah's revelation


On Monday,Oprah revealed a "family secret" on her show: She has a half-sister, a child their mother placed for adoption in 1963. As Oprah herself says, she has done similar shows through the years, uniting biological families separated through adoption, but never thought it would happen to her.

She especially praises her sister for not going to the media with the information, even though she has known for several years her biological relationship to the media star. Now, the family has decided to go public with the information, before the tabloids got the first word.

In this section of the show, Oprah encourages her mother to let go of the shame she believes her mother still carries for making the decision to "give up" her daughter for adoption.

On this day: The Bard of Ayrshire


On this day in 1759, Robert Burns was born in South Ayrshire, Scotland.

Burns was not Catholic, but a famous copy of his poems belonged to Dr. John Geddes, the Roman Catholic Bishop of Dunkeld, who "took an interest in the poet's work, and was responsible for getting 5 Catholic Seminaries, including that of the Scots College at Valladolid, of which he had once been Rector to subscribe to the Edinburgh Edition of 1787. Burns took Geddes's own copy, bound with blank sheets at both ends, with him on his Highland tour, and delayed returning it for almost 2 years."


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017