NCR Today

Ecumenical manners can't blunt pro-life message, pope says



tAt the conclusion of an annual week of prayer devoted to overcoming divisions in Christianity, Pope Benedict XVI has warned that hard political choices over “the family, marriage and sexuality” cannot be played down for the sake of preserving good relations among the various Christian denominations.

t Such issues form the heart of the contemporary culture wars, and Benedict called for a united front among Christians on these debates, “which cannot be minimized or avoided simply to avoid endangering the agreement we’ve already achieved.”

tThe pontiff’s remarks came in an audience this morning with a delegation from the Lutheran Church in Germany, to mark the end of the Jan. 18-25 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

tNoting that since 2009 the Catholic bishops of Germany and leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church have had a bilateral dialogue commission on “God and Human Dignity," Benedict expressed the hope that “no new confessional differences” will erupt on the pro-life questions.

An admirer, from the other side, of Sr. Rosemary Lynch


Many can attest that Sr. Rosemary Lynch could get along very well with the people who were on the opposing side of an issue. Even a sheriff who used to arrest her.

"She was a joy to talk to," Former Nye County sheriff Capt. Jim Merlino told the Las Vegas ReviewJournal. "I thought very highly of her, and she respected me, I know. "

Read more reflections on Lynch from Merlino and others at the ReviewJournal or see NCR's article on Lynch.

A new 'road map' in Hawaii


Last June, I wrote a story about how the Diocese of Hawaii undertook a substantial strategic plan under the direction of its new bishop Larry Silva. Then vicar general, Father Marc Alexander, spearheaded the undertaking.

Over the course a number of telephone conversations, I got to know Marc Alexander. He is an impressive guy. His biography can be found here: Marc R. Alexander

News today that Marc Alexander has decided to leave the priesthood after 25 years and accept an appointment by Hawaii's governor to head-up homelessness issues comes as a shock to his bishop, and no doubt, to many Catholics.

At the same time, Marc Alexander is quoted as saying that it is "time to answer a call in a different direction."

It is heartening to know that someone of Marc Alexander's compassion and capability is now in a position to affect the lives of the homeless in a way he couldn't as a priest.

Meeting Sargent Shriver, seeing the church of love


Sargent Shriver, Trappist Monks, and Pope Benedict XVI’s election are three things I’ve been thinking about recently. Let me explain.

It all stems from April 19, 2005, which, for me, is one of those days that stand far out above all others, shining in memory.

That spring I was a young college student in Washington taking a peace studies course with Colman McCarthy: journalist, peace activist, former monastic, vegan, and decamped Catholic.

The class organized a Saturday field trip to Holy Cross Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Virginia. We met in the parking lot and piled into vans for the drive. Before we could leave campus, bells began to ring -- at first from only one direction, loud and clear -- and then from many directions.

Rolling down the window someone shouted a query to a friar.

Habemus Papam” his voice sang in response, “We have a pope.”

As we began the drive, we turned on the radio -- hoping for news of who was chosen. Ears glued to the talk radio station, waiting nervously: this choice, after all, affects every Catholic’s life.

This was the first new pope of our lives and it seemed everything might change.

Western Wall highlights women's struggle for religious equality


These days, interfaith solidarity is important in struggles for justice. And so it is with the quest for women’s equality in faith traditions across the board.

This week on Interfaith Voices I spoke with Sue Morningstar, a rabbi of the Jewish Renewal Movement who is an international vice-chair of a group called “Rabbis for Women of the Wall.”

This group seeks gender equality in the way Jews pray at the Western Wall (or “Wailing Wall”), in Jerusalem. It’s the holiest sight in Judaism, and the rules about praying there are enforced by fundamentalist Orthodox rabbis in Israel.

There is even a physical partition that separates men from women. Some women have even been threatened with serious jail time (years, in fact) for “offenses” like wearing a prayer shawl or reading aloud from the Torah at the Wall.

The latter threats make me glad that the Vatican doesn’t have a way to jail Catholic women who call for women’s ordination as deacons and priests! But the overlap in our struggles was most apparent when I asked Rabbi Morningstar what the Jewish Renewal Movement was about.

Happy anniversary to the American Dream


This year the American Dream turns eighty years old.

It's actually hard to imagine that the words "American Deam" have a birthdate, a creator, an inventor. But they do. Over the years, these words have become very elastic -- meaning whatever the speaker wants them to: a new home, a new car, a new life, a chicken in every pot.

But "American Dream" first was coined in 1931, by historian James Truslow Adams, in his book, "Epic of America." He was writing as the Great Depression gathered full steam, here at home and around the developed world. This is how he put it, in excerpts you can find at Wikipedia, as honestly, directly, and succintly as only an inventor can:


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In This Issue

July 14-27, 2017