National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

Morning Briefing

 | 

'Philadelphia -- Another tough day on the stand for Msgr. Lynn

Charleston, S.C. -- Dispute over communion wine keeps chaplain out of jail

Lafayette, La. -- John Paul the Great Academy may lose its 40-acre campus before next school year if donors aren't able to quickly pool together enough money to buy the land and facilities that currently house the small Catholic school.

Opinion: Obama administration alienates Catholic voters by Michael Gerson

A crack in the ranks of the bishops

 | 

In his Washington Post column today, EJ Dionne discusses the public disagreement among the U.S. bishops about the lawsuit challenging the contraception mandate in the Obama administration's health care law. Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., went public Tuesday in an interview with Kevin Clarke of America magazine. He expressed his concern that some groups "very far to the right" are turning the controversy over the contraception rules into "an anti-Obama campaign."

Blaire smells, quite rightly I think, the aroma of partisan politics in this lawsuit, and perhaps in the whole campaign about "religious freedom." At the very least, it can be used by the far right to try to defeat Obama.

It's the bishops against the poor

 | 

I was at a fundraiser the other night for my state representative, a Democrat. He's a criminal defense lawyer, listens to my concerns about prison reform, gives me sound advice about the ways of the Missouri legislature, and follows through on his promises.

I was introduced as a Catholic sister to one of the state party leaders. He asked me right away about the Vatican investigation of nuns. I gave a vague comment about not worrying too much, that we nuns were all continuing our work. He, the Democrat, said it appeared to him the bishops were tough Republicans and that Missouri is likely in the next few years to grant nonpublic school scholarships, which would take even more money from the education of poor children and children with disabilities.

The two bills promoting scholarships did not move along in the Missouri bill process. But The New York Times ran a lengthy analysis of this movement last Monday.

Hildegard of Bingen: no ordinary saint

 | 

It took more than 800 years for the church to formally canonize Hildegard of Bingen. Her elevation by Pope Benedict XVI was announced May 1 at the Vatican. The 12th-century German Benedictine abbess and mystic has been venerated for centuries by Christians, but the delay in her official recognition could have had something to do with her very unorthodox kind of sanctity.

At a time when two ecumenical councils were dissolving the marriages of all priests and cutting adrift their wives and children, Hildegard was proclaiming the special dignity of women in her speeches, books and music. She was, in fact, so far ahead of her time that she was neither understood nor taken seriously by the hierarchy, thereby avoiding for most of her life sanction or investigation. Here are a few of her positions on scripture and theology.

There exists in the inner being of God an almost erotic balance of feminine and masculine, which is mirrored in the complementary relationship of men and women.

Since Jesus took his body from a woman, it is woman rather than man who best represents the humanity of the Son of God.

Philly abuse trial: Lynn takes the stand

 | 

This morning, Msgr. William J. Lynn took the stand for the second day in his landmark abuse trial in Philadelphia.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:

During hours of tense testimony in a Common Pleas courtroom, Lynn tried to counter charges that he spent a dozen years burying sex-abuse claims and shuffling accused priests around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

He repeatedly told jurors that his bosses, notably Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua, directed the church's response to child-sex abuse allegations, and he denied knowingly putting children in harm's way.

"I thought I was helping people," Lynn said. "I thought I was helping priests, and in those circumstances, I thought I was helping victims, as much as I could."

Lynn, 61, is accused of child endangerment for his role in recommending assignments to priests accused of past abuse. He is the first U.S. church official to stand trial for his role in the cover-up of abuse.

Brothers win abuse case against church, turn down the money

 | 

Here’s a story for critics of clergy sex abuse court cases who say “they’re only after the money.” From the Green Bay Press Gazette:

Brothers won't seek more from diocese
Documents reveal efforts to silence family

Appleton, Wis. — Two brothers who were sexually assaulted at the hands of a priest in 1978 said their civil lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay was about bringing long-held secrets to light, not money.

Todd and Troy Merryfield, who dropped a claim Wednesday seeking punitive damages, awards handed down in civil cases as punishment for wrongdoing. They explained pulling back the church's "veil of secrecy" is far more important than the $700,000 they were awarded already in the lawsuit after a jury decided Tuesday the church had covered up its knowledge of sexual abuse committed by the Rev. John Feeney before he abused the Merryfields.

The Merryfields implored the diocese to make public all it knows about past sexual abuses committed by clergy.

About those Knights: time to worry

 | 

If you've thought the recent hierarchical flailing about -- going after nuns and Girl Scouts and issuing dire warnings about the death of religious liberty in the United States -- has a certain Chicken Little quality about it, the Knights of Columbus, the organization that is a principle engine behind the religious liberty campaign, has provided the words and images to confirm your suspicion. Except that the group's latest warning is no child's fable. It's downright dangerous.

As Steve Schneck, director of Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies and a board member of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, explains:

The current issue of Columbia, the monthly magazine of the Knights of Columbus, should give faithful Catholics pause. The cover is Orwellian, featuring an illustration of an apparent cowboy, astride a black horse, with a 30-30 Winchester in his right hand and a large crucifix around his neck. Emblazoned in red across the bottom the words read: “Freedom Is Our Lives.” The issue is devoted to mobilizing Knights to fight for religious liberty against the Obama administration.

Morning Briefing

 | 

Cleveland Catholics demand Lennon reopen parish immediately

Philadephia -- Msgr. William J. Lynn took the witness stand at his landmark trial Wednesday, asserting he "did my best" to weed out sexually abusive priests. During hours of tense testimony, Lynn tried to counter charges that he spent a dozen years burying sex-abuse claims and shuffling accused priests around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Philadephia -- Philadelphia Priest Takes Stand In His Own Defense At Child Sex Abuse Trial (Video)

Opinion: Is Catholic groups’ lawsuit against health law political?

Understanding schizophrenia is start of healing process

 | 

Some crimes are so horrific that even the most Christian of hearts struggle to find forgiveness. On July 30, 2008, Vince Li beheaded 22-year-old Tim McLean, a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba, Canada. A psychiatric assessment concluded Li was suffering from untreated schizophrenia. The murder was the result of a severe psychotic episode. He was found not criminally responsible and admitted to the Selkirk Mental Health Centre for treatment.

Public reaction continues to reflect misunderstanding of mental illness in general and schizophrenia in particular. When a review board first allowed Li supervised walks on the grounds of the Mental Health Centre, media focused on the anger and fears of local residents. The same review board has now recommended supervised walks in the town of Selkirk. Again, local media found no shortage of residents willing to voice their opposition on public airwaves.

San Francisco parish leads efforts to expose and combat violence

 | 

Corpus Christi Parish in San Francisco's ethnically rich Excelsior District is spearheading community solidarity efforts to expose and combat the neighborhood's ongoing violence.

Largely with the guidance of associate pastor Salesian Fr. Jose Lucero and with the cooperation of the San Francisco Organizing Project, a communitywide gathering will be held at 11 a.m. June 16 as a follow-up to a May 9 interfaith prayer vigil for healing and peace in the parish hall that drew more than 70 participants, the priest told NCR on Monday.

"We should not have to walk in our streets paranoid. We are not going to stand for this violence. We are going to do something about it," Lucero told Catholic San Francisco, the archdiocese's weekly, in a May 18 article.

He said the meetings are opportunities "for us to speak, to not live in fear" and that "prayer is the most important way we can get rid of violence."

"This neighborhood in general has been affected by violence in different ways," Lucero told vigil participants, Catholic San Francisco reports.

Pages

Subscribe to NCR Today

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

07-18-2014_0.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.