NCR Today

Hitchens Strikes Out


Christopher Hitchens, the controversialist, bon vivant, intellectual and self-appointed Inquisitor of all religions but especially of Holy Mother Church, has come out swinging against Elena Kagan and the Obama administration for taking the side of the Vatican in a law suit that seeks to remove the legal protection the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act. The Vatican and the Obama administration agree that the Vatican is covered by the act. Hitchens, and the plaintiffs, think it should not be and that American bishops and clergy should be considered personnel of the Vatican. Full disclosure: Mr. Hitchens and I have shared more scotches than I can remember. Our views on many subjects could not be more different, but he has always been very kind to me. More than that, he has never written a boring sentence in his life, and that counts for a lot in my book.

Jim Wallis on the Deepwater Horizon spill


Jim Wallis is an evangelical Christian writer and political activist, best known as the founder and editor of Sojourners magazine and of the Washington, D.C.-based community of the same name. He is author of God’s Politics: Why the Right Gets It Wrong and the Left Doesn’t Get It (Harper) and The Soul of Politics (HarperCollins).
I interviewed him June 2.

Some additional questions for seminarians


Some years ago,a priest psychologist I was interviewing who had reviewed years of files of sexually abusive priests who had been treated, summed up the situation by saying the problem of clergy sexual abuse and inappropriate sexual behavior in general among Catholic clergy would not abate until there were honest discussions of sexuality among priests and bishops.

At least part of that has begun to happen, if awkwardly and under somewhat forced circumstances, according to a recent story in The New York Times. What's lacking, of course, are the questions about the culture that spawned the scandal.

Cell phones: bee killers?


It's something that's been puzzling scientists, farmers, and Pooh Bears looking for honey over the past few years. Bees across the world are disappearing. Now, according to a report from The Daily Telegraph, we may have a cause: radiation from cell phones.

Now researchers from Chandigarh's Punjab University claim they have found the cause which could be the first step in reversing the decline: They have established that radiation from mobile telephones is a key factor in the phenomenon and say that it probably interfering with the bee's navigation senses.

They set up a controlled experiment in Punjab earlier this year comparing the behaviour and productivity of bees in two hives – one fitted with two mobile telephones which were powered on for two fifteen minute sessions per day for three months. The other had dummy models installed.

More bad news for German Catholics


More bad news for German Catholics. Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops' Conference and archbishop of Freiburg, has been accused by prosecutors in Freiburg in southwest Germany of permitting a priest accused of child abuse in the 1960s to be reappointed to a parish job in 1987.

The church in Freiburg accused the prosecutors and media of "sensationalism" by talking of charges of "aiding and abetting sexual abuse" against the 71-year-old archbishop, and denied that the appointment was his direct responsibility.

With pressure for openness and action by the Church, more victims have been encouraged to come out into the open.

Zollitsch has already had to apologize in a separate case for failing to report a case of suspected abuse by a priest to state prosecutors in Freiburg.

Zollitsch, who forced that priest into early retirement, said in March that years later he confronted him over evidence of sexual abuse and told him the Church would now take the case to state prosecutors. The ex-priest then committed suicide.

No sex abuse charges against L.A. archdiocese likely to come


In recent years as prosecutors around the country have examined church handling of the clergy abuse crisis questions about what was likely to happen in Los Angeles begged for answers. Some of those answers became more public today as the L.A. District Attorney’s office announced that it had found information suggesting possible "criminal culpability" by leaders of the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, but that the office lacked enough evidence to bring charges.

The document, written by the prosecutor who heads the investigation, William Hodgman, says statutes of limitations make the "prospect of developing any criminal case" against archdiocese officials "more and more remote with each passing day."

Meanwhile, Archdiocese spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an e-mail that "any suggestion of criminal conduct is totally false and without factual basis."

Risk Management on Wall Street and in the Gulf


Our capitalist system is built upon risk. Investors risk their money in new enterprises. Entrepreneurs risk their time and careers. Some ventures succeed and others fail, and the market determines which is which.

Sometimes, however, there are other risks. The Congress is currently considering financial reform and the Volcker Rule is at the center of the debate. This Rule would prevent banks from using their own money to invest in risky hedge funds and other similar investments. The reason for the Rule is that people who deposit their money in a bank should not see their risks multiplied exponentially because a few bank executives want to get rich quick. A hedge fund may provide a windfall, but the Volcker Rule is a regulatory hedge against greed leading to the kinds of risky decisions that will redound badly not just upon the bank executives taking the risk, but upon the average customer of the bank. There is a danger that the Rule will be suspended for further study, but Washington is not a university, and “study” is a euphemism for killing the Rule. Congress should resist the lobbyists for the banks and pass the Rule.


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In This Issue

December 2-15, 2016