National Catholic Reporter

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NCR Today

Today's message is from
Staff writer Brian Roewe

Catholic Media Through the Ages

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Those attending the Call to Action annual convention in Milwaukee this weekend may want to stop by and say hi at the NCR booth in the exhibit hall. Or come to the 2 p.m. focus session featuring a whole panel of NCR folks, including yours truly.

Young Voices columnist Mike Sweitzer Beckman will moderate (or attempt to moderate!) four generations of Catholic journalists:

* Longtime NCR writer Bob McClory
* NCR Editor at large Tom Roberts
* Columnist and blogger Heidi Schlumpf
* and Young Voices columnist Jamie Manson

We hope to share our perspectives on how Catholic media has changed through the ages--and how it has affected the church's ability to communicate with its followers and its critics.

As usual, CTA has an awesome schedule of inspiring and challenging speakers and presenters. Hope to see some of you there!

Pres. Bush admits to war crimes?

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Former President George W. Bush is soon to publish a new memoir called Decision Points. According to advance information, he admits in the book that he authorized the use of waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, although he rejects the label "torture" for that procedure.

Bush may reject that label, but international law and international legal experts definitely categorize it as torture. In fact, the United States government prosecuted U.S. soldiers after the Spanish-American War and Japanese soldiers after World War II for waterboarding.

Bad theology, bad art, and a good blog

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Back in 2001, I wrote an essay for NCR on my experience reading some of the Left Behind book series. It turns out I wasn't nearly ambitious enough -- at least not compared to Fred Clark of the slacktivist blog. Clark, a progressive evangelical Christian, has since 2003 been systematically analyzing, scene by scene, the Left Behind novels, which purport to depict the coming end times in fictional form.

Clark's treatment is insightful and a great read; I look forward to seeing the latest installment pop up in my feed every Monday (or Tuesday -- he's not always prompt). If he can be said to have a basic thesis, it is that bad theology leads to bad art.

Retired priest charged with embezzling

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A retired Catholic priest with parishes in Norfolk, Va., and Hampton, Va., has been indicted on 11 counts of embezzlement, accused of taking $77,000 from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond.

Joseph Quoc Hai-Nguyen was granted bond Thursday with the condition he stay in Virginia, according to attorneys.

Hai-Nguyen, 65, was arrested in Texas following a direct indictment last month, said Amanda Howie, spokeswoman for the Norfolk commonwealth's attorney's office.

Prosecutors say Hai-Nguyen was working for two parishes between 2003 and 2009 while embezzling money from the diocese.

Economic justice and the election

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I’m one of those “political junkies” who stays up on election night to hear the results, no matter what they are. This year, the experience was a downer.

But what disturbed me most came the next day when polls released by the Pew Forum on Religion in Public Life showed that 54 percent of Catholic voters went Republican this year, a 12-point shift to the right from 2008.

Voters favor clean energy and climate legislation

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American voters made plain their anger over the economy and their frustration with the party in power. But they often did something else: they supported clean energy where they could.

Peter Lehner's blog on the Natural Resources Defense Council Web site claims that this week's election showed support for climate legislation and clean energy, even as Democrats in many places were defeated as the economy trumped all other issues.

"California voters defeated an oil industry attempt to undermine the state’s climate law, and most members of Congress who helped pass clean energy and climate legislation in 2009 kept their seats.

"The vote in California was particularly significant. This was the first time climate solutions were put to a public referendum. And despite the millions of dollars that fossil fuel companies poured into the race, Californians made it clear they want to build a cleaner energy future."

Priest vacationed using parish funds

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Monsignor Patrick Brown, longtime pastor of St. Vincent de Paul Roman Catholic church in Long Hill, N.J., admitted in federal court Wednesday that he stole nearly $64,000 from the church to buy relatives' gifts, pay credit card bills and fund trips to Ireland, Hawaii and Colorado.

Brown, a 59-year-old Stirling resident who also maintains a residence in Budd Lake, pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to the criminal charge of tax evasion.

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