NCR Today

Beyond a 'tea and cookies' dialogue with Islam


ROME -- Given the setting of the Middle East, Christians are compelled to pursue dialogue with the vast Muslim majority; in fact, it would be virtually impossible to avoid.

Several participants at the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East, however, seem eager to push that dialogue beyond a “tea and cookies” stage, where the point is merely being polite to one another, into blunt talk about religious freedom, democracy, and what one speaker described as “satanic plans by fundamental extremist groups” to extinguish Christianity in the region.

The Theology of the Tea Party


There is a new poll out this week from the Public Religion Research Institute that shows that 47 percent of the Tea Partiers also identify as Christian Conservatives or members of the Religious Right.

The upshot? Tea Partiers are not the people sometimes described by the media as libertarians, political independents, voters interested primarily in economic issues. Rather, they are largely social conservatives who favor government intervention on issues like gay marriage and abortion. They are mostly Republican, and their interests stretch far beyond taxes and spending.

Vatican: Tiara on Pope's coat of arms unintentional


The Catholic blogosphere has been abuzz this week over the possibility that Pope Benedict may have changed his coat of arms to include the papal tiara, a symbol of the pope's temporal and spiritual authority that harks back to days before the Second Vatican Council.

[img_assist|nid=20704|desc=The coat of arms used by the pope Oct. 10|link=none|align=left|width=130|height=200]Our own Jerry Filteau weighed in on Tuesday, reporting on the distinct differences between the coat of arms the pope has used since his election and the one he used Oct. 10 at the weekly Angelus prayer in St. Peter's Square.

Now, it seems, the Vatican is acknowledging some of the reactions the new crest has spurred.

In an interview with Catholic News Service this morning, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said the new tapestry with the changed coat of arms was a gift to the pope, and was used "without any intention of changing the crest" or adopting the tiara.

From the report:

Two Muslims, two perspectives on Middle East



tDiversity in the Muslim world was on display in Rome on Thursday, as an Iranian Ayatollah said that he sees “no problems, no difficulties” in Christian/Muslim relations in the Middle East, while a Lebanese counselor to his country’s Grand Mufti said that there are indeed problems which must be faced “bravely and objectively.”

tThe Iranian ayatollah also asserted that problems of religious fundamentalism in the Middle East originate with Israel, and that fundamentalist currents in the Islamic world are a “reflex” of perceived Israeli attitudes.

tMohammed al-Sammak, a Sunni, and Ayatollah Sayed Mostafa Mohaghegh Ahmadabadi, a Shi’ite, met the press this afternoon ahead of their speeches to the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Thank you, Chile!


The mesmerizing saga in the Atacama Desert, Chile, was biblical in many respects. In such challenging times, the success in retrieving the 33 miners and rescuers provided a worldwide spiritual uplift of substantial proportions.

Not surprisingly, the New York Post reports that some of the miners got closer to God:

One of the 33 trapped Chilean miners who were rescued after more than two months said the experience has renewed his faith in God.

Ricardo Villaroel -- the 28th miner to be pulled to safety on Wednesday night -- said he was in the first part of the area where the Aug 5. mine collapse took place.

Despite the tough living conditions, Villaroel credited his fellow miners and God for giving him the strength to survive.

"We had a boss and every day he would tell us we had to be strong and they ask us and we didn't have hope," he said. "Strength comes from internal energy and prayer and I never use to pray, here I learned to pray. I got closer to God.

Morning Briefing


What does liturgy have to do with immigration?


If we understand liturgy as how every culture shapes and affirms its basic assumptions, values and principles, we will begin to see something so pervasive that it has become invisible to us. Fish do not know they are in water, and we human beings do not normally think about culture or our point of view or as subjective but as simply “reality.”

But, in fact, the world we know is the product of both personal and communal conjuring, reinforced by protocols, symbols, rituals, common narratives and assumptions. This is liturgy.

And if you still can’t see it, think of weekend football, the costumes, colors, behaviors and expense in both time and money that people devote to reinforcing their fan identity and loyalty.


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In This Issue

February 24-March 9, 2017