NCR Today

Catholic bishops favor gun control - but who knows it?


The horrific shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, Ariz., has raised a plethora of moral and ethical issues. One of the most significant ones is gun control.

No matter what the motive or ideology of the gunman, he would not have been able to carry this off without a weapon that is classified as an “assault weapon.” His gun had a magazine with 30 bullets. He could shoot for quite a while without re-loading.

Assault weapons were banned under President Bill Clinton, and this ban was repealed under President George W. Bush.

Out of curiosity, I searched the Web site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops for their position on gun control. And sure enough, their Committee on Social Justice and World Peace issued this statement in 1978:

Bold declarations


Settlements are the issue for Palestinian farmers

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began the New Year with a bold declaration. He was willing to negotiate non-stop with Mahmoud Abbas, if, and only if, the Palestinian President quit harping on a settlement freeze as a precondition for their talks. Settlements. Shmettlements. According to the Israeli leader, the Palestinians should stop obsessing about them and consider the broader issues instead.

Gabrielle Giffords and the DREAM act


I lived in Tucson, Arizona for almost ten years in the 1990s; my activism included work with Derechos Humanos, a human rights group that monitors border patrol abuses.

One of our founding members, attorney Isabel Garcia, has been a high-profile advocate for the human rights of immigrants. For decades this has earned her the hatred of those who have claimed that she wants the Southwest to be returned to Mexico. This would sound like a joke except that she has long been threatened with violence and even death.

I am more worried than ever for Isabel and others advocating a humane immigration policy. The cold blooded shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson last week was almost bound to happen in our current climate of right-wing extremism and its violent rhetoric and imagery -- much of it aimed at immigrants.

It is significant that Giffords voted for the DREAM Act, which would have allowed children of undocumented workers, including those who have served in the military, the opportunity to attend college. The bill passed in the House but failed in the Senate.

International Catholic groups call for \"polluter-payer\" economic system


South Korea held a G20 summit in Seoul last November. In preparation for the event, the International Catholic Movement of Intellectual and Cultural Affairs (ICMICA - Pax Romana), the Woori Theology Institute (WTI), and the Korean Catholic Lay People Movement held an international conference in Seoul from one week before the gaqthering. It’s theme was “Rethinking Economics and Development, Towards A Model of A Sustainable, equitable And Pro-Poor Development”.

Is It an Anti-Christian Conspiracy?


The pope's condemnation of violence against Christians is a welcome alarm. In sounding the protest, however, he asserts that such cruelties belong under the same umbrella when, on closer inspection,they result from different causes and circumstances.

Benedict treats them all as displays of a conspiracy against the Christian faith. Thus, he lumps the ancient tensions between Egyptian Muslims and Christian Copts, a sore spot that has, like Northern Ireland, become as much cultural and political as religious, with what he perceives as a secular offensive against European Christians.

The absence of historical memory and geo-political discernment therefore weakens the credibility of his prophetic call for and end to the brutality that does face Christians in many parts of the world.

Much of the conflict that kills Christians takes place roughly along the fault line between Christians and Muslims. To assume that Christians bear no responsibility for the strife is unreasonable. Both sides have fought a long struggle for the allegiance of Nigerians, for example.

Child's funeral brings sadness, faith


I'd never been to a child's funeral before.

The idea of it always seemed to be a real challenge to faith, to belief in a God who was love. What kind of love is it, you wonder, that allows a child to be taken away? It is so unnatural, feels so wrong, for parents to bury a child.

Last week, I was at the funeral mass of a twenty-month old boy who suffered most of his brief life with ailments and injuries -- until he finally gave out. It was heart-wrenching and indescribable in many ways, but it was also -- to my surprise -- a testiment to faith.

The boy's death brought together hundreds of people, who packed a small church near the beach here in Los Angeles. His doctor's and nurses were there, and participated in the Mass through the presentation of the gifts. Aunt, uncles and godparents gave eulogies that brought on tears.

But at the center of it all was a mother and father. They must have been enveloped in grief, but in that church on that day, they were strong and calm -- in a way that was almost hard to grasp.

You know nothing of my work!


This New York Times review of Douglas Coupland's new book Marshall McLuhan: You know nothing of my work! caught my attention because I am a fan of both McLuhan and Coupland, who also wrote "Generation X.

I'm a fan of McLuhan because he "got" where mass media was going and Coupland because, in the spirit of McLuhan, he is trying to figure it out -- along with McLuhan's contribution to cultural inquiry and consequences.

One of McLuhan's successors at the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology, Professor Derrick de Kerckhove, spoke at an international meeting of Catholic communicators in Cologne, Germany in 1997 or 1998. He spoke quickly and in such a convoluted manner that it was impossible to follow. Nevertheless, I felt like I was experiencing a kind of multimedia phenomenon of confusion that McLuhan (and Bernard Lonergan, Walter Ong, etc.) foresaw and tried to explain as well.

I took notes and could not make sense of them after.

Vatican works to build ties with Vietnam


Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples Cardinal Ivan Dias, in Vietnam, conveyed best wishes from Pope Benedict XVI to the Vietnamese people, affirming the Vatican’s goodwill and strong wish to promote good relations with Vietnam.

The meeting between Dias and Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung comes just days after the U.S. filed a protest to the Vietnamese government after a U.S. diplomat was roughed upwhen he was visiting a Vietnamese Catholic dissident priest in central Vietnam.

Relations between church and state in Vietnam continue to be somewhat precarious. Catholics within the church in Vietnam are also somewhat divided in thoughts about how to work with the Hanoi leadership. Some strong anti-communists say cooperation if impossible; others say the church needs to find ways to work with communist officials, especially on matters of pastoral concern.


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In This Issue

April 21-May 4, 2017