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Irish church in turmoil after Vatican rejects resignations

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In refusing to accept the resignations of two Irish bishops implicated in a government report of mishandling the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Dublin, Pope Benedict XVI, or others more hidden that we collectively refer to as “the Vatican,” seem determined to turn all rationality on its head.
Since the crisis clearly went global several months ago we’ve heard unprecedented verbiage from the Vatican, words that seemed to convey deep sorrow and a desire to be transparent and accountable in this awful tragedy.
The words seemed reassuring, they were words that we all thought we understood. But moves like this make them inexplicable, beyond ordinary understanding and not in any way that would suggest they carry God-like qualities.

The Billionaires' Give-away

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Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have recruited 40 fellow billionaire families to give away half their treasure to charity. Good?

My immediate response isn't to jump for joy. I would first like to know where they intend to deposit their fortunes. For every Bread for the World there is a L. Ron Hubbard foundation; for every World Vision, a non-profit Dress for Success. Whatever else this pledge may be, it isn't a "widow's mite" expression of sacrificial giving. It's a safe, comfortable gesture with potential for ego-enhancement, though that doesn't mean it can't serve a meaningful purpose.

It reminds me remotely of the financial heavyweights in my home town.

I grew up in a small New England industrial city where furniture magnates extracted millions from cheap immigrant labor and in return bankrolled the public library, the hospital and a showcase indoor-outdoor swimming pool.

Journey Into America: the challenge of Islam

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Rarely have I read a book that is as timely, informative and engaging as Journey into America: the Challenge of Islam by Dr. Akbar Ahmed, considered one of the foremost Islamic scholars in the world.

Beginning in 2008, he and his young research team set out across America, visiting at least 75 cities and 100 mosques as they talked to thousands of American Muslims, and interviewed non-Muslims on their views of Islam.

It was an anthropological study, so the data is reported in dozens of fascinating stories that underline the key findings. Dr. Ahmed and two members of his young research team are the lead guests this week on Interfaith Voices. (The show will be posted by Friday, August 13).

A major theme running throughout the book is relevant for those of all faiths, including Catholics.

Dr. Ahmed and his team sought to understand how Muslims see themselves as part of America, and how non-Muslim Americans see Islam. So they asked the pivotal question: What does it mean to be an American? They asked that question across the country, and developed a typology of “American identities:”

    July heat is dangerous, deadly for undocumented immigrants

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    July was the second-deadliest month on record for undocumented workers crossing from Mexico into southern Arizona by foot, with 59 bodies ending up at the Pima County Medical Examiner's Office.

    The Arizona Daily Star reported Tuesday that the busy month filled the medical examiner's two refrigerated storage spaces, prompting officials to put a 55-foot refrigerated trailer in service to house additional bodies. The month's total of those who perished ranks second only to the 69 deaths recorded by the office in July 2005.

    "I hope that people - no matter which side of the immigration debate they are on - agree that individuals dying in our community is an absolute tragedy and that something needs to be done about it," Kat Rodriguez of the Coalición de Derechos Humanos told the Star.

    Nuns in India Speak Out

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    At a time when nuns in the United States are overly cautious about every action or statement that might anger or challenge the Vatican, they might observe recent and courageous statements by nuns from the Archdiocese of Delhi, India.
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    In a report in the Union of Catholic Asian News, women religious in India called the recent Vatican document equating women’s ordination with the sexual abuse of children “derogatory” and “shocking.”

    Sister Mary Scaria, who is with the archdiocese’s commission for justice and peace, said that it is “nothing but an expression of male chauvinism.” Sister Shalini D’Souza called the document “derogatory,” and affirmed that she would like to see women ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.

    Moreover, these nuns felt that the abuse of children in church settings would decrease if women were to be ordained priests.

    Ah! It’s wonderful to feel fresh breezes once again, like the years of “open windows” after Vatican II.

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    New evangelization needed?

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    I have to agree with English Bishop Kieran Conry, who recently questioned Pope Benedict's creation of a new evangelization council because it seems to imply that secularization--rather than the church's own failures--is at the heart of declining numbers of Catholics in Europe and elsewhere.

    "My own personal opinion — I would stress that this is a personal opinion — is that I am not entirely convinced by this secularization argument. It suggests that the church's problems are external, in other words society has gone wrong, but the church is fine," he told the BBC on Sunday.

    Evangelization, or spreading the Good News, is the whole point of the church, he said, but the church isn't doing it very well. It needs "to become a little more tolerant, accessible, welcoming, compassionate. All the things that, for many people, it is not."

    The story was reported by the Catholic Herald in London.

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