NCR Today

Hubble and the Cosmos


Hubble has a new camera.

If you are like me then you have marveled, really marveled, at the photos we have seen in recent years taken by the Hubble spacecraft. Pondering the unimaginable proportions and beauty, I've at times been driven to a sense of insignificance, and then I move beyond.

We are fortunate to live in an age when science is expanding our minds and reach. Now if only our wisdom could keep up with our knowledge.

Something to think about


The number of potential nuclear weapons states could more than double in the next few years unless major powers take radical steps toward disarmament, the head of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog was quoted saying on Friday.

Mohamed ElBaradei said the threat of proliferation was particularly great in the Middle East and the international regime designed to limit the spread of nuclear weapons was at risk of falling apart, the Guardian newspaper reported.

Catholic Dem Chair Welcomes Obama


Patrick Whelan, chair of Boston-based Catholic Democrats, has an op-ed piece in today's Chicago Tribune.
"Obama has rejected some Republican ideas on abortion. But articulating a different vision doesn't mean he's 'in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,'" writes Whelan. More: "Conservatives can't produce any actual evidence that their minor changes to abortion law or any Bush rulemaking has stopped any abortions. Also neglected is the link between economics and abortion. The deep recession hatched during the Bush years is likely to be bad for the unborn, and the prideful critics are reluctant to accept that Obama's urgent economic recovery efforts may be among the most effective ways to decrease abortion."

Remember social sin?


College can be a severe moral dilemma. And I'm not referring primarily to drinking and sex. Graduation is a time when grand ethical purposes are proclaimed. There are many elements in that chorus but among them are hints about what kind of standards make life worth living.

Most students arrive the first year with a general sense of right and wrong, often etched on their memories by Sunday school and catechism. It is, from what I hear, a jumble of attitudes about society and the "good" life and at least a few of the 10 Commandments.

Theologians back Notre Dame honoring Obama


Calling President Obama "a Christian with a deep respect for the role of faith in public life," 20 leading U.S. Catholic theologians and scholars have sharply criticized those who are attacking the University of Notre Dame for inviting Obama to deliver the university's commencement address May 17.

Most of those protesting Obama's appearance cite his support for legalized abortion as grounds for denying him a platform or honors at any Catholic university.

The scholars said Notre Dame "has a long tradition of honoring presidents from both political parties." They urged those who opposed Obama's appearance not "to disrupt these joyous proceedings or to divide the church for narrow political advantage."

Intentional Eucharistic Communities


A national gathering of Intentional Eucharistic Communities is scheduled to open in in Chevy Chase, MD., tomorrow. I recently talked with William D’Antonio -- a professor of the sociology of religion and well-regarded researcher -- about the gathering. D'Antonio is the principal organizer of the gather. My interview with D'Antonio is an NCR podcast: Intentional communities find a way

Weakland questions church teaching on homosexuality


Retired Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, whose autobiography, “A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church” (William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company) is set to be published next month, in an interview with the New York Times, is speaking out on matters of sexuality.

“If we say our God is an all-loving god,” he said, “how do you explain that at any given time probably 400 million living on the planet at one time would be gay? Are the religions of the world, as does Catholicism, saying to those hundreds of millions of people, you have to pass your whole life without any physical, genital expression of that love?”

Tricky Dick and JFK


Richard Nixon had some redeeming qualities: he opened the door to China, built détente with the Soviet Union, and created the Environmental Protection among other accomplishments. But to politically aware Catholics, he also had the saving grace of never playing the “religion card” against John F. Kennedy in the 1960 election.
Or so we thought.
In his recently released The Making of a Catholic President: Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 (Oxford, 2009) author Shaun A. Casey uncovers much about the secret effort engineered, by among others, the Nixon campaign, the Rev. Billy Graham, Protestants and Other Americans United for the Separation of Church and State (they’ve since dropped the “Protestants and Other” from their moniker), and the National Association of Evangelicals to use Kennedy’s faith against him. The tactics were smarmy, bigoted, slickly implemented, well-funded, and ultimately unsuccessful.
NCR’ s review is forthcoming, but I can say without hesitation that anyone who thinks they know the real story of that election really does not until they read what Casey has to report. It is gripping stuff.



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In This Issue

March 24-April 6, 2017