Morning Briefing

Confirmation hearings for CIA Director nominee Gina Haspel begin this morning. A number of Catholic and other groups are opposing her because she oversaw and helped coverup the use of torture.

President Trump announced yesterday that he was withdrawing the U.S. from a seven-country agreement with Iran. It’s a move peace activists—as well as many international experts—believe will have disastrous results in the Middle East. (Meanwhile, the New York Times uncovered a trail of money from a Russian oligarch through a shell company linked with Trump’s lawyer and some of his companies to the payoff to Stormy Daniels.)

The agenda for the upcoming synod on young people has been approved but not yet released. Curiously, the Vatican press released said the agenda approval followed “an interesting exchange of opinions" about the document.

In other Vatican news, the pope has updated the statutes for the office in charge of laity and the family to specifically include responsibility for the role of women in the church and society. (And, yes, he did manage to include the phrase “feminine genius” in the new statutes.)

Our sisters in the Southern Baptist denomination are demanding the dismissal of a prominent leader over his views on gender and sexuality, including comments that women in situations of domestic violence should stay and pray for their husbands. (Some background on some Southern Baptist teachings on women.)

The search process has begun for the next compliance auditor for the U.S. bishops' clergy sexual abuse policies under the so-called “Dallas Charter.”

Meet the nun leading the province of the Good Shepherd Sisters that, among other things, provides social services to tens of thousands of New Yorkers. The community is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

Jesuit Fr. Howard J. Gray, a national and international known scholar on Ignatian spirituality and former NCR board member, died Monday after a car accident. RIP.

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Opinion:

Columnist Michael Sean Winters agrees with E.J. Dionne that the Religious Right’s affiliation with the Republican Party is responsible for much of the exodus from religion by younger Americans. But, Winters argues, the political left also bears some responsibility.

“Are you a Christian identity card carrier? Are you aspiring to be holy, a saint in and of daily living?” That’s Miguel Diaz’s question, as he analyzes Pope Francis’ exhortation  on holiness in NCR’s new “Theology en la Plaza” column.

Our reviewer explores Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s connections to Catholicism in a new biography of a strong woman who helped found the Special Olympics. (Fun fact: Shriver received Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal in 1988 and spoke at my college graduation.)

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