NCR Today

Who's to blame for failing church in Europe?


The New York Times columnist and Atlantic writer Ross Douthat gives the necessary nod to historical perspective(for those inclined to think the sex abuse crisis might sink the church) in a blog entry before coming to the following dire conclusion about the Catholic Church in Europe:

"But if the Church isn’t finished, period, it can still be finished for certain people, in certain contexts, in certain times. And so it is in this case: for millions in Europe and America, Catholicism is probably permanently associated with sexual scandal, rather than the gospel of Jesus Christ. And as in many previous dark chapters in the Church’s history, the leaders entrusted with that gospel have nobody to blame but themselves."

I have the same point of view when it comes to the crisis and what it might portend for the future. Consequently I find it curious that Pope Benedict would seek redemption for the institution in part through a new liturgical movement, as explained here by John Allen .

Kasper resigns; Koch takes his spot


As John Allen reported yesterday (Triumph of theologians over diplomats in Vatican) Pope Benedict XVI today appointed Bishop Kurt Koch of Basel, Switzerland, as president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Koch succeeds Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has reached retirement age.

Here is the first reaction I have seen to Kasper's resignation: The Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said:

What Benedict means by 'new liturgical movement'



tSometime soon, the Vatican is expected to release a motu proprio, meaning a legal document under the pope’s authority, which will transfer responsibility for an aspect of marriage law from one Vatican office to another. Though it will probably fly below the public radar, the document provides a glimpse into Pope Benedict XVI’s approach to liturgy, meaning how the church celebrates the Mass and its other rituals.

tSpecifically, Benedict is expected to encourage the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, the Vatican's office for liturgical policy, to focus on promoting what he describes as a “new liturgical movement." The obvious question, of course, is what exactly he means by that.

New study: when waterboarding ceased to be torture


There's a fascinating new study out of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government that's the subject of a story on
According to the Salon piece: "This new study examines how waterboarding has been discussed by America's four largest newspapers over the past 100 years, and finds that the technique, almost invariably, was unequivocally referred to as "torture" -- until the U.S. Government began openly using it and insisting that it was not torture, at which time these newspapers obediently ceased describing it that way." The study itself can be found here.

Pax Christi to honor LCWR


The Catholic peace group Pax Christi USA has announced that it will honor the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) with its Eileen Egan Peacemaker Award during Pax Chrisit's national conference in Chicago July 18.

In announcing the honor, Pax Christi head Dave Robinson said, “Everyone in Pax Christi USA knows and recognizes that women religious are the backbone of the Catholic peace and justice movement."

I'm in Charge Here, No?


Mel Brooks proclaimed "it's good to be the king" as he pranced around as Louis XVI in "History of the World Part I," oblivious to the fate that awaited him.

The Revolution was about to separate his head from his torso, but there he was, in full divine right glory, denying reality.

Benedict XVI, on the other hand, must have no illusions that it's any fun being the religious counterpart, the supreme pontiff, both because he isn't a sinister hedonist and no doubt understands fairly well that the natives are plenty restless.

Still, he or his support staff persist in portraying the papacy in medieval, royalist privileges that alienate it further from the egalitarian ideologies that undergird, at least in theory, the modern world.

I refer to the pope's insistence that he alone is entitled to rap the knuckles of cardinals. Another cardinal may not. Let's be clear, as President Obama might say, I'm the pope and, in case you forgot the rules, I'm the critic in chief. The rest of you keep your sniping to yourselves, or at least within the college of cardinals dining hall.

Crazy Stuff: The KC Catholic Key on Kagan


Last week, I offered some praise for “The Catholic Key Blog,” the online presence of the Kansas City-St. Joseph archdiocesan newspaper edited by Jack Smith. Smith offers some provocative and generally well-written commentary that reflects the views of the conservative bishop he serves (or so it seems) and a good number of the faithful of the church.

But there’s provocative and then there’s … well, bizarre. Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan, Smith writes this week, is “thoroughly totalitarian.” (You have to scroll down a bit to see this posting.)

Accusing someone in political life of being “thoroughly totalitarian” is, to my mind, the equivalent of charging that someone is a fascist or communist, a Holocaust denier, a racist, an anti-Catholic, an anti-Semite, a bigot; someone, in other words, whose ideas and actions make them, by definition, illegitimate, not worthy of consideration in the civil discussion. Someone to be shunned.


Subscribe to NCR Today


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

January 13-26, 2017