National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

On this day: Orphan Trains


On this day, a century ago, "Sixty-six babies from the New York Foundling Hospital were shipped . . . to foster parents in the South and West in a special car on the noon train for St. Louis from the Grand Central Station.

"The sixty-six foundlings were in charge of two sisters of charity and Agent O'Hara, who has been conducting the hospital's semi-annual transcontinental foundling tours for a great many years."

Elizabeth Johnson honored at Fordham University


For the record, the March 24 U.S. bishops' doctrine committee's stinging critique of Sister Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for the Living God was not the first time Johnson was in the news last month.

She was honored two weeks earlier by Fordham University where she teaches theology. Johnson was awarded with a Bene Merenti Medal, honored for 20 years of service at the university. The citation on the program read as follows:

Dr. Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J.
Distinguished Professor of Theology

New York Times editorial: 'What Happened to Zero Tolerance'?


The Times took on the U.S. bishops again writing:

The indictment of a layman and four church figures — including a monsignor accused of covering up abuse — is proof that the bishops’ system of local and national review boards isn’t strong enough.

Board appointees are supposedly equipped to scrutinize each diocese’s adherence to zero tolerance. But the grand jury in Philadelphia found that the hierarchy there continued to protect accused priests despite repeated scandals and vows for reform.

The leader of the Philadelphia review board pointed to one major weakness: currently, any allegations about rogue priests are first vetted by chancery officials working for the archdiocese. They rightly should go directly to the review boards. This should be a universal no-brainer, along with stronger outside auditing of safeguard programs. Both were initially required, but the bishops subsequently eased that to a policy of “self-reporting” with audits every three years.

The haunting question is how many other Philadelphias may be out there.

House Leader Calls Bishop 'Pedophile Pimp'


The New Hampshire House majority leader said he stands by his Facebook post referring to Catholic Bishop John McCormack as a "pedophile pimp."

McCormack spoke at a Statehouse rally Thursday, criticizing budget cuts.

"We urge the legislature and the governor to place the poor, the unemployed, and our most vulnerable citizens first," he said.

On Friday morning, D.J. Bettencourt, a Catholic, responded on his Facebook page.

"Bishop John McCormick (sic) of the Catholic Diocese of NH told the crowd, ‘It’s a moral concern (because) the vulnerable take priority in our society.’ Would the Bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the 'vulnerable'? This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a rain coat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone," the post said.

Positive Catholic Congressional Briefing on LGBT Rights


The Catholic Bishops of the United States have been lobbying for years against equal rights for the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender (LGBT) community. There were prominent in favoring repeal of same sex marriage in California and Maine, and they pushed hard to keep it from becoming law recently in Maryland. In addition, they have lobbied against adoption rights and even equality in employment.

tNow, Catholics who favor human equality - no matter what a person’s sexual orientation - have come together to make a political impact for LGBT rights. Implicitly, they are saying to Members of Congress: you may hear from the Bishops on this, but they no longer represent most of the flock. We do.

tOn Wednesday, March 30, a coalition of Catholic groups called “Equally Blessed” sponsored a Congressional Briefing in the Rayburn Building on Capitol Hill. Congressional sponsors were Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA). It was attended by at least 100 people. I was pleased to moderate the session.

My Brother's Funeral Mass


Funeral Masses ought to be times to mourn the passing of a family member or friend, as well as times to celebrate who they were and what they contributed to the community.

This is not always the case. Many Catholics have maddening stories to tell about pastors who are rigid with the rules, and funerals that were stale, "boiler plate," without anything that fit the life of the deceased.

But I was lucky recently, lucky to have found a priest who was open, compassionate and flexible.

On Heating Assistance for the Poor, Defending the Indefensible


The effort that helps poor people pay their heating bills – the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – was launched in the 1970s with revenue from the “excess profit tax” (ah, those were the days!) on oil companies. Now, apparently, both Republicans and the Obama Administration agree that there’s not enough money to continue funding the program at current levels.

At today’s Huffington Post, the always-reliable Sam Stein provides a wonderful account of the hemming and hawing Energy Secretary Steven Chu was forced to resort to as he defended the Administration’s proposed $2.5 billion cut in LIHEAP funding. Defending the indefensible is difficult, even for a Nobel Laureate.

LIHEAP is a rubber-meets-the-road program. It is not sexy – not like converting some old technology to “green technology.” It is not high profile; those who benefit, the nation’s lowest income people living below the poverty line, are not typically the subjects of sympathetic newspaper profiles or television news segments.

\"Limitless\"? That's what you think


Compared to this time last year when the only film that got my attention in the first months was "Winter's Bone," I have already seen some terrific films.

"Of Gods and Men," "Win Win," "Potiche" ("Trophy Wife"), "The Adjustment Bureau" though I have issues with it, and Julian Schnabel's "Miral." Today I saw "Limitless" and I cannot stop thinking about it. It is parked in my mind.


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.