NCR Today

Hijacking Newman


John Cornwell's essay in the Financial Times, The papal hijacking of Cardinal Newman, is creating quite a stir. Cornwell's biography of Newman, Newman’s Unquiet Grave: The Reluctant Saint, is the book of choice this week in the NCR Book Club, with a review by Jesuit Fr. Peter L’Estrange.

Cornwell's thesis in his essay is that "John Henry Newman has always been a source of inspiration to Catholic liberals for his tendency to see both sides of every question and to follow conscience wherever it may lead," and this makes his imminent beatification "paradoxical."

At bicentennial, Mexico's future questioned


From the Dallas Morning News:

Mexico celebrates 200 years of independence, violence & poverty persist

"As Mexico prepares to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence from Spain and the 100th anniversary of its revolution today and Thursday, many Mexicans are questioning how much liberty and opportunity they really have in a country racked, again, by bloodshed and still plagued by poverty.

One pastor causes inestimable damage


Catholic News Service ran a story this morning quoting the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican that a U.S. pastor's threat to burn copies of the Quran has damaged the image of the United States.

"The deliberate destruction of any holy book is an abhorrent act," said the ambassador, Miguel H. Diaz.

CNS reported that the expressed plans by a small Florida Pentecostal church to burn the Quran Sept. 11 represent "disrespectful acts" and in no way reflect "the sentiments of the American people or the U.S. government," he said in a written statement Sept. 10.

The ambassador's remarks came after the Florida pastor, the Rev. Terry Jones, announced he had called off the event, even though later he said he was going to "rethink" that decision.

"The U.S. government condemns the on-again, off-again plans" by the small evangelical group, Diaz said. "The mere threat by a pastor of a small Florida church has already damaged the image of the U.S."

Diaz's comments were the latest in a series of condemnations by international church leaders and officials.

Catholic bishops in Iraq and Pakistan joined a growing chorus of international religious leaders denouncing the planned burning.

14 activists on trial for entering Air Force Base


With the aim of resisting the use of deadly unmanned drones by the U.S. military abroad and the hope of sparking some sort of public dialog, 14 peace activists go on trial today for an action they committed at a Nevada air force base.

The trial comes about a year and half after the April 2009 action and after charges against the activists were at first dropped and then reinstated.

The activists, known together as the 'Creech 14,' walked onto the grounds of Creech Air Force Base near Las Vegas, Nev. on Holy Thursday 2009 and offered the Air Force personnel they met there bread and water as a sign of peace as they started a prayer vigil. After about an hour at prayer they were arrested and taken into custody.

Among those in the group is Jesuit Fr. John Dear, who wrote about the witness and trial in his latest column on the NCR website.

Kathy Kelly, another in the group and coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, talked about the action yesterday on the syndicated radio and television program Democracy Now!.

Catholics for Equality


I joined a media teleconference this morning that marked the official opening of Catholics for Equality, the stated purpose of which is "to mobilize the 62 percent of American Catholics who support freedoms for all people regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Catholics for Equality and an affiliated foundation will channel that support into action for legislative, political and cultural change."

Today's Muslims Yesterday's Catholics?


Current American anti-Muslim bias is being commonly compared to 19th century anti-Catholicism. I think that's sloppy history.

Hateful behavior against belief in general is inexcusable in a society that espouses free speech and religious liberty wherever it happens. And it has happened in every time, whether against free-thinkers, Mormons, Catholics or Jehovah's Witnesses.

While violence against innocent newcomers and non-conformists is always wrong, the fears that underlie those hostilities are often distinctive.

Was the fear of Catholicism itself in the 19th and 20th centuries irrational, based purely on a blind defense of Protestant theology and democratic values?

Surely it was in part. Since the Reformation, Rome had been the symbol of the anti-Christ in many Protestant circles as well as a threat to a young nation whose ethos was democratic and Protestant.

But as the Notre Dame historians point out in their piece in the latest New York Review of Books, those fears were also grounded in concrete foundation. Popes in the latter half of the 19th century railed against egalitarianism and democracy in a frenzied reaction to Europe's revolutionary forces.

Right-wing rage - a supplement


Quick follow-up to my blog yesterday, about the patterns of right-wing rage that spring up after the election of Democratic presidents. A new book has just hit the shelves, by Philadelphia Daily News columnist Will Bunch. The title: The Backlash: Right-Wing Radicals, High-Def Hucksters, and Paranoid Politics in the Age of Obama.

Bunch -- also a senior fellow at the left-leaning research group Media Matters -- notes, too, that right-wing radicalism and Democratic presidents are often two peas in the same political pod, but makes special note of one new element: mainstream acceptance.


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In This Issue

May 19-June 1, 2017