National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

Wisconsin governor gets one right


Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker deserves an “F” in labor relations. And he clearly has an inflated view of his own significance. But when it comes to rudimentary history, he scores higher marks than some of his critics.

In the now infamous prank phone call in which blogger Ian Murphy posed as billionaire conservative bankroller David Koch, Walker offered a not-so-subtle comparison between his actions and those of the fortieth president, conservative icon Ronald Reagan.

Massingale on Wisconsin


Regular readers of NCR will no doubt recognize the name Fr. Bryan Massingale, associate professor of theological ethics at Marquette University in Milwaukee and a past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America.

Massingale has an opinion piece in today's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel about Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's approach to collective bargaining and balanced budgets. A sample:

On this day: St. Senan


On this day we celebrate the feast of St. Senan (pronounced Shanawn), a 6th-century bishop, founder of Irish monasteries, most notably the one on Scattery Island in the Shannon estuary, and the patron saint of West Clare.

If you've ever landed at Shannon Airport, you've flown over Scattery Island and Senan's home town of Kilrush. In those last minutes before landing, you're flying low enough to see the round tower on Scattery Island, and the ferry crossing from Kilrush on the Clare side to Tarbert on the Kerry side, and maybe, if it's a sunny day, the dolphins.

Morning Briefing


Vatican to craft Catholic 'Sullivan Principles'


ROME -- Few efforts to cajole corporations into a deeper sense of social responsibility have been more celebrated than the “Sullivan Principles,” elaborated in the late 1970s by African-American minister Leon Sullivan to apply economic pressure on South Africa to revise, and eventually abandon, its system of apartheid.

By consensus, the “Sullivan Principles” worked because they condensed volumes of lofty theoretical language about global solidarity and human rights into a short set of concrete, practical commitments, which had a visible impact in the real world.

Building on that model, the Vatican may now be preparing to develop a similar template for business ethics in the 21st century – a sort of Catholic version of the “Sullivan Principles” – based on Pope Benedict XVI’s 2009 social encyclical, Caritas in Veritate.

America: Time for laity at the top


"You say your grandmother's a cardinal?"

"Your dad's meeting regularly with cardinals in Rome?"

Maybe not so unrealistic as it sounds.

A recent America magazine editorial advances daring proposals that the magazine itself had to admit might sound "pie in the sky." But they just may be ideas whose time is long overdue: change canon law and/or create structures within the church that place laity near the top decision makers.

The Jesuit publication, in its Feb. 21 issue, editorialized that the "fundamental criticism of the institutional church" in the various crises that have jolted the church in the United States, England and Europe, "is that its clerical, all-male establishment has not made room for other voices. There is no need to list the number of recent policy decisions, from Rome to home, which would have been more prudent if only a variety of laypersons had been consulted."

Read the full proposals here.

Diagnosing the 'implosion' of Benedict's Vatican


ROME -- Perhaps the most telling index of the severity of the various PR and managerial catastrophes which have beset the papacy of Benedict XVI is that there’s now a budding literary genre attempting to explain them. It’s also a measure of the reduced global profile of the papacy these days that, to date, the Italians basically have a monopoly on it.

Last year brought Attaco a Ratzinger: Accuse e scandali, profezie e complotti contro Benedetto XVI (“Attack on Ratzinger: Accusations and Scandals, Prophecies and Plots against Benedict XVI”) by two of the best Italian Vatican writers going, Paolo Rodari and Andrea Tornielli. Though hardly blind to the Vatican’s own failures, Rodari and Tornielli also suggested there’s an effort afoot to damage the moral authority of the pope and the church, perhaps even of cosmic dimensions. (One chapter ponders whether Benedict’s woes were foretold by Fatima and other Marian apparitions.)

Driving with forgiveness


For a little more than a year I’ve been trying to drive my car in a spirit of forgiveness and loving kindness.

It was a dark and stormy night last November at an intersection under construction when an SUV honked furiously and at length at me. I was in the right, and, oh my, did I feel some righteous anger -- once I got over the relief at not being hit when the other driver didn’t see that the lanes curved sharply.

I was mad. I had at some time or other, unbeknownst to myself, given myself permission to be mad and to enjoy being mad.

It was a satisfying righteousness that was still there the next morning. I was hoping the other driver would drive through the intersection in daylight, see the error of his ways and be ashamed. I caught myself. It was pleasurable to be angry. I didn’t want to be taking pleasure over someone else’s driving errors.

During the next several weeks I began to notice that same anger rising in me when other drivers passed on the right, didn’t use their turn signals, honked, whatever. Not only had I given myself permission to be angry and to enjoy being angry, I was feeding the anger, calling the driver stupid and, again, feeling righteous.

Labor protests and the importance of Catholic social teaching


As I watch the protests in Wisconsin, Ohio, DC and elsewhere, I’m taken back to my days at DeSales Catholic High School in Lockport, NY. One of the extracurricular activities in which we could elect to participate was the “Labor School.” Essentially, it was a free after-school mini-course, taught by local union leaders, about the history of the Labor Movement in the United States. It lasted about 6-8 weeks.

Forgiveness as the Catholic yoga


ROME -- In a post-modern, pragmatic, "gimme-something-that-works" sort of world, Eastern religions have had considerable success in exporting elements of their spirituality and tradition that meet perceived contemporary needs. Plenty of fitness-conscious people have been exposed to Hinduism through yoga, for example, just as many stressed-out Westerners have been intrigued by Buddhism though transcendental meditation (TM).


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.