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Francis is asking us to take sides


When asked "Which side are you on?" — as the song goes — most of us feel uneasy and generally try to sit on the intervening fence.

However, that is the question Pope Francis asked Catholics in his closing address to the bishops and cardinals — and by extension all Catholics — at the extraordinary synod on the Family Oct. 18. Noting the "moments of tensions and temptations" that occurred during the synod, Francis asks us to be honest with ourselves and declare which side we are inclining towards: the "traditionalist" or the "progressive” wing of the church.

Fr. Tony Flannery preaches church reform with a brogue


It was a cool, rainy night Wednesday at Augustana Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C. But the drizzly weather did not keep more than 150 people from coming out to hear Fr. Tony Flannery, a priest from Ireland who has been ordered by the Vatican to sign a statement of orthodoxy and to remain silent. But Flannery -- unlike many theologians before him -- did not sign and won't keep quiet. In fact, this was the first stop in an 18-city speaking tour of the United States, sponsored by a coalition of U.S. church reform groups.

Preview: More work for LGBT and allies before next synod


In the mid-1990s, the U.S. bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family Life drafted a pastoral document addressed to parents who have lesbian or gay children. During the many revisions of the document, Bishop Joseph Charron of Des Moines, Iowa, who chaired the committee at the time, appeared before the 60-member Administrative Board of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to present the draft.

On the scene for Ferguson October


On Oct. 11, the Ferguson protesters held a march in downtown St. Louis as part of a four-day protest weekend, Ferguson October. I worked as a peacekeeper during the march -- or, in current parlance, a "de-escalator." It wasn't our job to persuade people not to be angry, but to discourage debates with hecklers or among marchers whose chants demonstrated philosophical differences. For example, one chant I'd heard a day earlier in front of the prosecutor's office called for the death of a police officer.

NCR readers in KC area: Save this date


On Nov. 1, NCR will co-host a one-day seminar with Rockhurst University, in Kansas City, Mo.. “Pope Francis: Becoming a Church of Mercy” is a day of discussions on the global impact of Francis’ papacy.

The event takes place on the Rockhurst campus. Speakers include Rockhurst president Fr. Tom Curran and Rockhurst theology faculty and yours truly along with NCR Vatican correspondent Josh McElwee and NCR senior analyst Fr. Tom Reese. NCR CEO/president Caitlin Hendel will moderate a panel.

We should not wash our hands of the right to vote


Politics are dirty. Our country is founded upon the values, aspirations and hard work of "we the people." Yet too often, our voices are drowned out by the big money of corporations, political action committees, and campaign donors. To overcome this distortion of democracy, all who are able must vote.

The Nov. 4 midterm elections will determine which party will have the majority in Congress. These legislators will be charged with crafting federal legislation on anything from immigration to taxes to the environment for the next two to six years.

Will you vote?


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In This Issue

November 21-December 5, 2014


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