National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Distinctly Catholic

Snyder v. Phelps


Fred Phelps has his day in court today. The hateful bigot-pastor from the Westboro Church in Kansas was sued for protesting at the funeral of Lance Corporal Matthew Snyder by Snyder’s parents on the grounds that he invaded their family's privacy and inflicted emotional distress on the family. Pastor Phelps and his congregants, who tend to share bonds of blood affinity to an unhealthy degree as well as the bonds of their distorted understanding of Christianity, protest at the funerals of American military personnel. They believe these brave men and women deserved to die because America tolerates homosexuality. So, while wearing tee-shirts that read “God Hates Fags,” at the funerals they wear signs that read “Thank God for IEDs.” How to put this in the most Christian manner possible? Phelps and his family/parishioners are beneath contempt.

Election Time: CA-Governor


The California gubernatorial contest did not interest me at first.

While examining the California Senate race, I asked why such a large state produced two lousy candidates, but I know why this large state produced such lousy choices for the Governor’s race: The job is impossible.

If Arnold the Terminator can’t fix Sacramento, it probably can’t be fixed.

So, the race appeared boring both in its content and in its outcome and the candidates attracted to the prospect were predictably boring. The Democrats nominated an old government hand and former Governor, Jerry Brown, and the Republicans nominated a zillionaire CEO, Meg Whitman, who has poured more than $100 million of her own money into the race.

What to say about Jerry Brown?

Q & A: Father Ken Himes


This week at Q & A, we are looking at the contributions Pope benedict XVI has made to the Church to call attention to the publication of a new book from the USCCB, Pope Benedict XVI: Essays and Reflections on His Papacy.

Today we hear from Fr. Ken Himes, who teaches theology at Boston College.

The question: What do you perceive as a specific contribution Pope Benedict XVI has made to the Church?

Father Himes: After Joseph Ratzinger was elected Bishop of Rome, a friend told me that I should take a vacation from my study of Catholic social teaching since there would be no new social encyclical coming out of Benedict’s papacy. While my friend was joking, it is fair to say the expectations of many people were low regarding Benedict’s interest in social teaching. Yet this papacy has continued the practice of commemorating the social encyclicals of predecessors while adding its own voice and perspective to social questions.

Gerson (Conveniently) Forgets Racism


Michael Gerson this morning has an article in the Washington Post in which he discussed the Obama administration's loss of religious voters. He believes that in its pursuit of "big governement" solutions, the Obama administration fell afoul of religious conservatives who are suspicious of big government, exciting anew what Gerson calls "long-standing evangelical fears of the aggressive secular state."

Election Time: NH 1 & 2


UPDATE (10/26): Carol Shea Porter appears headed for defeat against the former mayor of Manchester, Frank Guinta, the largest city in the state. Independents are breaking heavily for Guinta with some recent polls showing him with a double digit lead, and no recent poll showing him with less than a 5 percent lead. Both Cook and Real Clear Politics list the race as "Lean Republican." Guinta is likely to become New England's only GOP respresentative in the U.S. House.

Why I Love Benedict


I can recall precisely where I was when I realized that Joseph Ratzinger had been elected Pope. I was jogging on Varnum Street, near Providence Hospital. For those familiar with Washington, D.C., the Brookland section of town, where I then lived, is known as “little Rome” because it is home to so many Catholic institutions: CUA, the Shrine, the Franciscan monastery and other religious houses, Providence hospital, etc. The bells in the Shrine began to ring. It was close to noon, so I assumed they were pealing the Angelus. But, they kept ringing. I cut my run short and as I got closer to my home, the thought occurred that if the cardinal electors had reached their decision so quickly – it was the first full day of the conclave – they had to have selected the frontrunner, Cardinal Ratzinger. I got inside and turned on the television and shortly thereafter, Cardinal Medina Estevez stepped on to the loggia of St. Peter’s and announced that, indeed, the cardinals had elected Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope.


Subscribe to Distinctly Catholic

Friends of NCR 300x80 web ad.jpg

NCR Email Alerts