NCR Today

My oldest daughter's first car.


It's red. It's a Honda. It's got 50,000 miles on it -- and it is my oldest daughter's first car.

We got it last week, in one of those rites-of-passage for parents that brings memories flooding back. In my case -- having come of age in the 1970s -- the memories are not good. They are, to be kind, substandard. They are memories of a certain variety of Detroit steel called the 1974 Dodge Dart Swinger.

It was a two-door "sports coupe," which meant it was a slightly-less-unwieldy behemoth than the other cars on the road. It was beige, inside and out, with all the aero-dynamics of the step-in GMC van my father drove to deliver bread. No air-bags, no seat belt. I loved it, for sure -- but when I look back on it, I am not only stunned I survived in it, but that the American auto industry survived along with me.

Last week, to the amazement of many, General Motors announced it was not shutting down its plants for the traditional two week summer layoff period. Orders for automobiles were coming in too fast for the now-downsized manufacturing giant.

Afghanistan: One perspective


We were going through our normal routine yesterday evening, setting the dinner table, cleaning snow peas picked fresh from the garden that morning, and my youngest son asks me: "Dad how long have we been fighting in Afghanistan."

I realized he was watching the evening news on television (I had tuned it out) and was watching a report that June in Afghanistan "is rapidly becoming one of the war's most lethal months for foreign forces."

\"Holier than Dow\"


I stole that headline from Jon Stewart's "Daily Show." It refers to a segment last week in which correspondent Samantha Bee profiles two priests and a nun calling for corporate responsibility from Wall Street, specifically Goldman Sachs.

Featured were Father Seamus Finn, OMI, from Investing for Catholics, Maryknoll Father Joe LaMar from the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, and Sister Barbara Aires, coordinator of social responsibility for for the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth, N.J. (A fourth woman on screen is not identified.)

Bee plays devil's advocate: "Jesus wants us all to be rich. The pope gets it. Have you even seen his ceiling?

But LaMar is quick with the comeback: "He moved in after it was done, so he had nothing to do with that."

Despite the potshots (calling Sister Barbara "the money nunny"), the piece does show priests and nuns working to bring the gospel to Wall Street by demanding more "transparency" from CEOs at shareholder meetings.

Cheer the D'Antonios: 60 years together


Anyone looking for an antidote to this restless age of sound bites, tweets, post-modern relativism and a general sense of impermanence would have found it Sunday in Washington at a gathering of friends celebrating the 60th wedding anniversary of Bill and Lorraine D’Antonio.

Bill was a member of the NCR board for nearly 20 years during the 1980s and 1990s. He taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1957-71, was Fulbright Senior Fellow in Italy in 2004 and today is an adjunct professor of sociology at Catholic University in Washington.

He pioneered an ongoing study of American Catholics, the first of which was sponsored by NCR in anticipation of Pope John Paul II’s second visit to the United States in the fall of 1987. Additional studies followed every six years. In all, four surveys have been completed, all of which have been extensively reported in NCR and have also eventually been published as books.

Bill and Lorraine have six children (in six states: Alaska, Arizona, California, Kentucky, New York and Connecticut); 14 grandchildren; and eight great grandchildren.

Two new serious cases of priest thefts


Archdiocese of Hartford - new

Archdiocese of Boston - new

Diocese of Bridgeport case - still not prosecuted - complete silence even after a blistering parish report
Fr. Michael Moynihan theft case

Conn. Catholic charity involving sexual abuse, lost funds
Doug Perlitz case - ongoing prosecution by Feds

In the Connecticut cases, Atty Gen. Blumenthal has been completely silent all these years.

Vietnam: Important Plan of Action


Last week, several of us who were on the Interfaith Delegation to Vietnam in May gathered at the Aspen Institute in Washington, DC to release of a Plan of Action to begin to deal with the toxic legacy of Agent Orange/dioxin in that country.
That plan calls for a three-phase program to clean up toxic “hot spots” where Agent Orange and dioxin were stored and spilled – and where the smell of these chemicals still lingers 35 years later. It also calls for expanding the work with people with disabilities, especially children with birth defects, some of whom we saw on our journey.
The price tag is $300 million over ten years. The joint US/Vietnam Dialogue Group on Agent Orange/Dioxin recommends that some of that money come from the U.S. government, and some from private philanthropists.
This is a moral “no-brainer.” Of course, we should do this… and more.
But this has implications beyond Vietnam. What have we left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan? What about the poisons we use in the environment generally, like the “dispersants” being used in the Gulf of Mexico now? This plan of action calls us to look at a larger picture… the preservation of a non-toxic Planet Earth.

Beloved NYC priest set to retire


The venerable New York Times ran an excellent story on the pending retirement of Father John C. Flynn, an 80-year-old Roman Catholic priest with bright blue eyes and thick white hair. Father Flynn was ordained in 1955 and worked in the 1960s and ’70s at the Church of St. Raymond’s in Parkchester, in what was then a largely Irish neighborhood in the Bronx. As he tells the story, he wanted to integrate the church with black and Hispanic parishioners, but faced resistance.

Finally, a church official said to him, “If you love them so much, why don’t you go live with them?”

“And so,” Father Flynn said, recalling the scene from his spartan office, “I did.”

“I love my life,” Flynn said afterward. He is retiring somewhat begrudgingly, though he is looking forward to playing more golf. He has played a standing game with other priests every Monday for years.

He has promised that he will return to the neighborhood often.

“I have a lot to do,” Father Flynn said. “But I don’t have much time to do it.”

A hint of accountability in new Vatican financial scandal



tOnly half in jest, I’ve sometimes suggested that the pace of change in the Vatican amounts to, “Talk to us on Wednesday and we’ll get back to you in 200 years.” It’s an institution, in other words, decidedly not built for speed.

tRecent days, however, have brought an intriguing hint of a culture shift in the direction of accountability, perhaps accelerated by fallout from the global sexual abuse crisis.

tAlready reeling on that front, the Vatican now faces an embarrassing financial scandal: Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples has been named a target by Italian prosecutors for his role in alleged corruption in public works contracts while he was Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples from 2001 to 2006.

tThe investigation of Sepe comes as part of a widening corruption scandal in Italy known as the “Great Works” probe, which has already linked an array of politicians and businessmen to an alleged network of kickbacks in major public projects, such as the Jubilee Year of 2000 and the recent meeting of the G8 in earthquake-damaged L’Aquila, Italy.

tSepe is the first former Vatican official implicated in the scandal.


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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016