NCR Today

The new oil -- water


On Oct. 8, Newsweek magazine ran a feature story, "The New Oil -- Should Private Companies Control Our Most Precious Natural Resource?" The report begins with an account of how 80 million gallons of water from Blue Lake, an unpolluted source near Sitka, Alaska, will soon be pumped into waiting ocean-going tankers and shipped to a bulk bottling facility near Mumbai in India, there to be processed and sold to drought-plagued Middle East countries. The project is the brainchild of two companies -- One, True Alaska Bottling and S2C Global. The former has bought rights to bottle three billion gallons of water a year from Sitka's lakes; the latter is building the facility in India.

The transfer of water is nothing new, the report notes. Los Angeles gets its water from the distant Owens Valley near the Sierras; New York City from the Catskills. What's troubling critics is the transfer of so much water from public to private hands. Free markets, supporters say, are the way to solve the world's looming water shortages.

When Catholics were Muslims in America


Their loyalty to America was constantly in question. They were distrusted for their secret societies; despised for religious rituals conducted in an ancient tongue. They were not Muslims -- they were Catholics of our nation's not-so-distant past.

The church's synod on the Middle East and the continuing controversy over a proposed Muslim center at Ground Zero have sparked several comparative looks at the treatment Catholics received when they first began to assert themselves in the United States.

In The New York Times, the pastor of St. Peter's Roman Catholic Church in Lower Manhattan recalls the tumult that accompanied plans to build New York's first Catholic house of worship -- which on October 12 celebrates its 225th anniversary. Many of those issues then resonate today.

Protests against 'Roman imperialism' at Middle East synod



While the Christians of the Middle East face a staggering variety of external challenges, from the Israeli/Palestinian problem to the rise of radical Islam, it was internal ecclesiastical questions which actually loomed largest during day two of the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East.

Concretely, several representatives of the Eastern Churches of the region registered strong protests against what they almost seem to regard as a sort of “Roman imperialism” inside global Catholicism. Their basic argument is that reforms are required if the identity, authority and heritage of the 22 Eastern Churches in communion with Rome are to be preserved.

Will new Vatican office mean more belief, or more bureaucracy?



tAs of today, the Vatican officially has a brand new department dedicated to reawakening Christianity in the secular West. Whether this new “Pontifical Council for Promotion of the New Evangelization” will actually trigger a Christian renaissance across the First World, however, very much remains to be seen.

tSo far, the lone concrete project announced by the office is a celebration in 2012 of the twentieth anniversary of publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

tPope Benedict XVI announced plans to create the new office, known in the technical parlance of the Vatican as a “dicastery,” on June 29, the liturgical feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. Only today, however, was the legal document formally creating the office published.

Beck and the Birchers, intellectual soul mates


Ever wonder how history would have changed if W. Cleon Skousen and Robert Welch had had their own radio and tv shows, access to the internet and continued exposure on 24/7 "news" shows that need to fill every second of the day with something, anyting? If they had been able to talk daily to millions instead of spreading the word through dedicated small cells of true believers? Glenn Beck is a good bet for how it might have appeared.

Does benign neglect spell the 'Death of Christians of the East'?



tSprawl usually marks the opening stages of a Synod of Bishops, as participants use brief speeches to raise a bewildering variety of topics, and common threads can be hard to find. Attempts to identify key ideas too early in the game risk jumping the gun.

tThat said, yesterday’s first round of speeches in the Oct. 10-24 Synod of Bishops for the Middle East repeatedly seemed to flag a threat facing the churches of the region, less visible than the rise of radical Islam or the war in Iraq, but potentially no less fatal: A sort of “benign neglect” across the Catholic world, which could mean acquiescence as the spiritual and social capital of the churches of the Middle East ebbs away.

Friends of NCR annual appeal kicks off


It's October and here at NCR that means we kick off our annual Friends of NCR fundraising campaign.

So now, many of you are probably thinking ... "Oh great, one more request for money." And although in actuality, this is a request for financial assistance for NCR, our Friends campaign is so much more. It's your opportunity to be involved, to be a part of a group of people dedicated to the belief that a light must keep shining on the issues in our church and in our world. It's people who know how important this information is, to all of us, and know that NCR oftentimes is the only place where it can be found. That's why we need your help, so we can keep the NCR light shining, doing our work of keeping you informed.

Activist: It's up to us to stop nuclear war


Last Thursday, 14 anti-nuclear weapons activists were found guilty of illegal trespassing. Back in August they had stood in front of earth moving equipment at the construction site for a new nuclear weapons production plant in Kansas City, Mo.

One of the activists, Felice Cohen-Joppa has written a reflection at about the trial and the reasons she feels the activists' trepass was completely legal. Cohen-Joppa is the co-editor of the Nuclear Resister, a newsletter which tracks nonviolent resistance to war. Her letter follows:

The judge found me guilty. Even after I'd testified under oath that I had committed no crime when standing in front of a bulldozer in a muddy soybean field being cleared for the new Kansas City Plant, arm in arm with 13 others. On August 16, we had tried to stop preparation of the site for the first U.S. nuclear weapons plant to be built in 32 years. That's what brought us to Judge LaBella's Kansas City courtroom on October 7.


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May 19-June 1, 2017