Morning Briefing


Today is the 500th anniversary of the day Martin Luther affixed his 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg Castle, in part to protest the Catholic Church’s selling of indulgences. Read here about Johann Tetzel, the Dominican preacher notorious for popularizing the idea that souls in purgatory could be freed by a relative’s financial contribution.

Mad at the church (or any church) and want to post your own theses this Reformation Day? The 95 Tweets project will compile tweets with the hashtag #95tweets as a way for folks to “share their experiences and provide feedback.” (Not yet trending on Twitter.)

I’m betting plenty of Catholics would post (or tweet) a modern-day thesis about the church denying funerals to LGBT Catholics, as the Diocese of Madison recently proposed. Among those penning their opposition to that diocese’s new directives is high school senior Maddie Raffel, who was confirmed by Madison Bishop Robert Morlino last year. “Bishop Morlino's actions have turned me away from the church, and it will do the same for many young Catholics out there,” she wrote in the Wisconsin State Journal. (This fits with young folks earlier telling bishops they want to be heard on issues of sex and sexuality.)

More reaction from Pope Francis’ correction of Cardinal Robert Sarah includes this one from Richard Gaillardetz, who says it’s not about evening scores on an ideological agenda. Cardinal Donald Wuerl also mentioned it in his interview with NCR’s Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee.

Texas bishops have questioned why federal immigration officials have detained a 10-year-old girl who has cerebral palsy and who has been in the United States since she was a baby.

More than 60 sisters from the Association of Sisterhoods of Kenya served as election observers in the country’s controversial presidential election last week. Still, opposition leaders are calling for protests after President Uhuru Kenyatta won with an overwhelming 98 percent of the vote.

ICYMI: This long read on the “Lost Children of Taum” about the mass grave of children at a Mother and Baby Home in Ireland run by nuns is both haunting and beautifully written.

This week, we celebrate the first anniversary of the launch of our podcast, NCR in Conversation. Catch the latest episode here.


On All Hallow’s Eve, you might enjoy this review of a book that analyzes the theology of the “zombie” trend. See if the author thinks zombies are “nihilistic depictions of the downfall of society or hopeful narratives about the resilience of the human spirit and capacity for good.”

My favorite Lutheran, Martin E. Marty, reflects on what it means to repent (and manages to mention Pope John Paul II’s doctoral thesis) in this Reformation Day column.

As usual, Michael Leach in NCR’s “Soul Seeing” column manages to make me cry as he describes in beautiful detail all the kindness he and his wife, Vickie, experience from folks. “People will always be kind,” he says.

NCR columnist Tony Magliano explores what should be obvious: Guns don’t make us safer.  

Finally, don’t eat too much black licorice from your trick-or-treat bag. (People either love it or hate it—I love it.)  The FDA is warning of adverse health effects

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