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The Party of Yes

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The Republican Party has been worried that they will be tagged as “the Party of No” but I think they actually face a different worry, that they will be tagged as “the Party of Yes.” In their obstructionism to anything and everything that President Obama supports, they have put themselves into the unenviable situation of saying, repeatedly, “yes” to the status quo.

They defended the status quo on health care. They are currently defending the status quo on financial oversight. They will soon be defending the status quo on environmental policy. Even though millions of Americans lacked access to health care and its rising costs threaten to bankrupt the country. Even though better oversight might have prevented the economic meltdown from which the nation is just becoming to emerge. Even though the polar ice caps are melting.

Boycott Arizona

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Jan Brewer, Arizona's governor, has signed a law that will allow cops to pull over, question, and detain anyone they have a “reasonable suspicion” to believe is in this country without proper documents. This is racial profiling--a threat to all of our civil rights. Latinos will be targeted as never before. The legislation potentially threatens church ministries, theoretically forcing those in ministry to ask for proof of residency before offering to take a group of people to church, to cite but one example. Groups around the country are calling for a national boycott of Arizona businesses, urging actions such as canceling conferences scheduled to be held in the state. To sign on to the boycott, check out the Latino advocacy group, Presente.org.

EPA to reconsider Kansas City nuclear plant for Superfund cleanup

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In what could be a major victory for anti-nuclear weapons activists, the Environmental Protection Agency said April 26 that it might put a Kansas City nuclear weapons plan on a priority list for cleanup.

Local Catholic Worker activists and others have been demanding the site be cleaned up before a proposed replacement site in Kansas City is built.

Two decades ago, the EPA left the Kansas City site (called the Bannister Plant) off the special Superfund list, but now it says it will reassess that decision.

The spirituality of humor

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In New Mexico a few years ago I attended a conference on Native American spirituality held at the Santa Fe Indian School. Native peoples from all around the Southwest came for this yearly weekend gathering. After everyone had registered, inked in their name tags and found their seats, Joe Savilla, the convener of the conference, walked to the podium, surveyed the assembly with a grave face, then said, "Before we begin ... does anyone have any good jokes to share?" Maybe four or five attendees shared, starting the conference off on just the right note. Then Joe followed with a prayer. I still remember some of the jokes. Here's one:

A New Mexico farmer was visiting his Texas cousin's ranch one day. The Texan, anxious to impress his relative, took him out on the front porch, spread his arms wide and said, "Why, I get in my truck in the morning and it takes me all day to get to the other side of this place!" The New Mexican shrugged and answered, "Yup, I had a truck like that once."

Did you know the words human, humor and humility all have the same Indo-European root -- ghom, best translated by the English word humus.

Gratitude, not discrimination, owed to immigrants

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Arizona's stringent new anti-immigration law has finally stirred calls to fix a broken system and give hard-striving undocumented workers their due. If the controversy turns into action, a measure of thanks goes to Los Angeles' Cardinal Roger Mahony, who spoke out quickly and forcefully against Arizona's actions.

That's not surprising -- Mahony knows the same thing my father noticed when he first visited me here in Southern California.

My parents were the children of immigrants themselves, Italians who settled in the New York City and rarely ventured outside of their neighborhoods, let alone the city borders. They came to visit me when I moved out to Los Angeles a little more than twenty years ago -- and my Dad observed everything very closely. Chinatown, the beaches, Dodger Stadium, Beverly Hills. He noticed everyone we came into contact with and as I watched him, I wondered what he was thinking.

Raucous applause welcomes new bishop of Scranton

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When the people offer "raucous applause," one can't help but sense the release of a long-awaited moment for a post-Bishop Joseph Martino to begin. At the bishop's installation Mass yesterday, it was reported: "[Bishop Bambera] served in dozens of capacities throughout the 11-county diocese since entering the priesthood in 1983, and he seemed to be a popular choice among his fellow priests since many of the normally reserved ministers not only applauded his installation, but even hooted and cheered him on as he took his seat at the head of the cathedral. The raucous ovations were not lost on Bambera before he addressed the standing-room-only crowd."

Only Christians need apply

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I'll never forget the family from Uzbekistan with four girls who lived down the street from us. Or the young Somali couple with two toddler boys in the apartment building next door. My husband and I got to know both families as volunteers for World Relief's refugee resettlement program.

That's why I was particularly sad to learn that the program is in near shambles, thanks to a new hiring policy that requires employees to be Christian, as the Chicago Tribune recently reported. World Relief is affiliated with the National Association of Evangelicals.

A number of staff have already left, calling the new policy discriminatory. "It's legal, but it's ridiculously wrong and un-Christian," said Delia Seeberg, the former director of immigrant legal services who is now working at a private firm that does immigrant law.

Saturday's Mass in the Extraordinary Form

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I caught last Saturday’s special Mass in the Extarordinary From, telecast from the National Shrine on EWTN. The Mass gained more than expected attention because of the last minute removal of the principal celebrant, Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos, because he is embroiled in controversy regarding the need to report crimes by priests to civil authorities.

I am a child of Vatican II, so the old Mass is unfamiliar to me. So, I did not bring any nostalgic sensibilities to my viewing of it. And, without such a sensibility, I confess it left me cold. The music was glorious, of course, but we have equally beautiful ancient music at the Novus Ordo Latin Mass and at the English Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral every Sunday.

Bishop Slattery's homily in DC: What does disobedience look like?

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In the news today is Bishop Edward Slattery of Tulsa, Okla. This Saturday he celebrated a traditionalist, Latin language Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.

Slattery's homily focused on his understanding of suffering and obedience in the light of the current sex abuse crisis. In the past Slattery has taken courageous stands regarding the individual's obligation to be obedient.

Facing the passage by the Oklahoma legislature of strict anti-immigrant legislation in 2006, Slattery publicly announced that he could not support the legislation and would continue his ministry to undocumented immigrants.

As Catholic News Service reported at the time, Slattery said that, if a law were to be passed criminalizing the act of aiding illegal immigrants, "then I will become a criminal."

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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