National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

Our treasure: The pentagon's global information grid


This Lenten task I assigned myself, a sober look at where we Americans keep our treasure (Mt. 6: 21), turns out to be suitably penitential. I’m hoping you, dear reader, are willing to keep up.

Today’s Government Accountability Office Pentagon boondoggle is the Global Information Grid, something The New York Times itself puts in unattributed quotes as the “‘mother of all networks,’ intended to interconnect all military elements swiftly and securely.”

The thinking that undergirds this grid began in St. Louis in the 1970s when engineers at the Defense Mapping Agency began to map points on the earth ten feet apart, entering into the computer daily temps, altitude, and coded landmarks like trees, buildings, lakes and cornfields. Of course within about 20 years satellite imaging and the GPS overtook surveyors on the ground.

You would think that GPS plus World Wide Web connections would do the trick. And indeed the GAO and the Times -- as well as the soldiers in the field who use these tools -- find them sufficient for a lot of what’s needed.

Invitation for NCR readers in Pennsylvania


NCR columnist Jesuit Fr. John Dear will be giving a talk, "The Road to Peace: Practicing Non-violence in a World of Violence and War," today in Lewisburg, Pa. He will be speaking at Bucknell Unviersity at at 7:30 p.m. in Trout Auditorium of the Vaughan Literature Building.

The talk is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by Bucknell's Catholic Campus Ministry. Click here for details.

Roy Bourgeois and Bill Callahan: Vive!


When I heard about the patriarchal ultimatum (recant your support of women’s ordination or be dismissed) given to Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois I was stunned, but not surprised.

It brought my mind back to the day when my good friend, Bill Callahan, then a Jesuit, was dismissed from his order. Although Bill’s dismissal was wrapped in different language, his advocacy for women’s ordination was a major part of the accusations against him.

Both men provide powerful public witnesses for their beliefs. Roy preached at the 2008 ordination of a woman friend in the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Bill was a plenary speaker at the first Women’s Ordination Conference in 1975 and launched Priests for Equality that same year, with women’s ordination as a prominent part of the charter.

Supreme Court Bolsters School Aid Program


Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that Arizona taxpayers do not have the “standing” necessary to challenge the state’s tuition assistance program. Under the program, taxpayers can direct up to $1000 (for couples) of their tax payment to support private schools.

Among the largest beneficiaries of the program are the state’s Catholic schools. While the ruling is narrow, the local effect is that the program should continue well into the future. Meanwhile, church-state separatists are not happy with the decision, written by associate justice Anthony Kennedy with a dissent from the court’s newest member, Elena Kagan.

Self-exiled Oakland priest pleas for church reform


Tim Stier, a Catholic priest in voluntary exile and is a resident of Oakland, has written an opinion piece in the Oakland Tribune.

"When I listen to Catholic bishops of late, I find myself wondering what planet these men inhabit," he writes.

On clerical sex abuse, he writes: "Philadelphia is not atypical; it just happens to have a courageous district attorney (a practicing Catholic no less). The Catholic Church is in a state of collapse due to an institutional culture defined by secrecy, elitism and denial."

On this day: St. Crescentia Hˆfl


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Maria Crescentia Höß, a Franciscan of Kaufbeuren, Bavaria, in the Diocese of Augsburg.

Anna Höß was born in 1682 to Matthias Höß and Lucia Hoermann, poor weavers, the sixth of their eight children. She was a gifted child, and one of her greatest gifts, mentioned by Pope John Paul II in his Homily at her canonization, was her beautiful voice.

Morning Briefing


How can we explain evil in the world?


Reading the newspaper today made me think the writer of "The Adjustment Bureau" just might be on to something.

The premise of the film is that angels dressed as businessmen are walking among us, their only business to keep humans on the right track. There are hokey references to “the chairman” and “the plan” in the beginning of the movie and I was just about to write it off when I found some interesting theological food for thought.

The protagonist, played by Matt Damon, meets up with one of the leading angels to argue his case for being with the woman he loves. During that conversation, the angel explains to Damon's character that humans are not really free. Indeed, he says, human beings only have the “appearance of having free will.”

Cesar Chavez and today's unions


Here in California last Thursday, it was a state holiday -- the birthday of Cesar Chavez, founder and leader of the United Farm Workers Union. There were no brass bands nor Main Street parades, but this day this year comes at a crossroads for unions in America.

In Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, public employee unions are under siege. Many conservative commentators have asserted a difference between these unions of largely white collar bureaucrats and the struggles of miners, farm workers, and the really/truly oppressed. But Chavez himself made no such distinctions -- he was, in the finest Catholic tradition, a bulwark for dignified labor no matter who it was and where the work happened.

That key to Chavez is made clear in a column by the new Archbishop of Los Angeles, Jose Gomez. Writing in the archdiocesan newspaper The Tidings, Gomez notes of the labor leader: "In everything, he declared that life is sacred and that the human person has a dignity as a child of God that no one can take away."


Subscribe to NCR Today


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

November 20-December 3, 2015


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.