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Webathon: A chip shot away from significant achievement

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Dear NCR Readers, with your generous support we’ve surpassed the $40,000 mark. We’ve surpassed the $45,000 mark. We’re a chip shot from the $50,000 green.

Today is the last week day – the last high traffic day – of our Webathon week. It’s the last day we can pull together to reach - and potentially exceed - our $50,000 goal.

Please, give now if you haven’t already given.

Let Afghanistan determine its own future

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The killing of Osama bin Laden has correctly raised the question of the U.S. war in Afghanistan.

If the original motivation for military intervention back in 2001 and reinforced by President Obama’s “surge” of additional troops was to insure that bin Laden and Al Qaida did not attempt to use again that country for its terrorist operations, then one can logically conclude that this mission has been significantly achieved by the killing of bin Laden.

In my opinion, the shift from this focus of a police action against Al Qaida in Afghanistan has mired the U.S. down in a fruitless effort at nation-building that is impossible to achieve in a country that has little foundation as a cohesive nation.

It is not worth the expense of American lives and devastating injuries plus the bottom line of $2 billion per week. We should declare victory over Al Qaida in Afghanistan and shift to more focused special operations to prevent any resurgence of terrorist cells.

In the end, only the people of Afghanistan can determine their own future.

Just like old times -- Mr. Smith takes on NCR -- and we keep coming back for more

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In the 48 years since the first edition of the National Catholic Reporter was published, we’ve had some occasionally tumultuous interactions with our friends at the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese.

NCR’s Second Annual Webathon, where we come to our loyal electronic readership to solicit support for ncronline.org, seemed a good time to share some of that history -- and to bring it up to date.

But first, dear reader, stop reading. That’s right, I’m committing the highest of editorial sins by instructing you to click away from these carefully crafted words. Instead, go here, right now, and make a donation that shows your support for the independent Catholic journalism only NCR provides. Below, you’ll see an example of why that support is essential to what we do.

Now, back to our story.

TV and John Paul II

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An estimated crowed of a million and a half people jammed into St. Peter's Square this past weekend for the beatification of Pope John Paul II -- a visual tribute to the sustained popularity of the late pontiff. And the visual tribute is fitting, because John Paul was the first pope to fully embrace television.

In a column on the beatification in The Los Angeles Times, Tim Rutten questions what lies at the heart of that popularity. He wonders "how well this approving crowd listened to or read what John Paul II preached and wrote," or if they were -- instead -- drawn in by the pagentry and show of his papacy.

It's a question that followed John Paul II throughout his long reign: if the medium is indeed the message, could the pope's message -- often at odds with technology and modernity -- cut through the TV-ready imagery?

Back in 1987, I wrote a magazine piece profiling John Paul's then-new media team, headed by a TV-saavy archbishop from Philadelphia, John Foley. Along with his ex-actor-boss, Foley crafted irresistable images of a charistmatic leader.

Is there no room in our church for a bishop like Bishop Morris?

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Frankly, I do not know Bishop William M. Morris of the Toowoomba diocese personally. I suspect few U.S. Catholics do. (By the way, if you do, please contact me at tfox@ncronline.org.) But what is emerging in interviews he has given to the media in Australia in recent days since he was sacked by Pope Benedict XVI is that of a gentle, pastoral bishop.

Morris, having learned that we was to be removed from his post, after the complaints of a band of hard core conservative Catholics, went to Rome to speak with the pope. That meeting took place 14 months back.

On this day: St. Hilary of Arles, Bishop

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On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Hilary of Arles. He was born about 403, and, at an early age, he joined Lérins, the monastery founded by his relative, St. Honoratus. Hilary succeeded Honoratus as abbot, and, in 429, as bishop of Arles.

Bishop Hilary's famous clash with Pope Leo the Great came in 445 after Hilary deposed Celedonius, bishop of Besançon, for marrying a widow and, before his ordination, for having presided over a trial that ended with capital punishment.

Celedonius appealed to Rome. Even though Pope Leo knew that a predecessor, Pope Zosimus, had granted primacy over Besançon to Arles, he quashed Hilary's ruling.

Morning Briefing

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Canadian bishop pleads guilty to possessing child pornography

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Catholic News Service reports:

OTTAWA, Ontario (CNS) -- The former bishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia, has pleaded guilty to possession of child pornography.

Bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded to the charge of possession "for the purposes of importation child pornography in the form of graphic computer images." However, he told the judge he was not guilty of possession with the intent to distribute.

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January 29-February 11, 2016

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