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John Zogby's presentation at NCR Washington Briefing

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John Zogby, the president and CEO of Zogby International, the global polling company, presented the results of his company's latest survey of American Catholics' beliefs and attitudes today during a lunch time presentation to participants of "Washington Briefing for the Nation’s Catholic Community," cosponsored by Trinity Washington University and National Catholic Reporter.

SOA looking for interns

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Just got this note from SOA Watch, the organization founded by Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and dedicated to closing the Army training school for Latin American soldiers located at Fort Benning, Ga.

SOA Watch Internships in Washington, DC

These are the internship positions in the DC office of SOA Watch
(click on the title for a detailed description)

Organizing Intern

Communications Intern

Fundraising Intern

Internships last for two to four months and interns commit to a certain number of hours per week. The minimum commitment is 20 hours per week; 32-40 hours per week is most common.

NCR Briefing: implications of the sex abuse crisis

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Who are we as a church? What is our leadership about? What kind of culture does it create?

These are just a few of the ever so narrow questions NCR senior correspondent John Allen and editor at large Tom Roberts just dealt with during a panel on how Catholics are confronting the abuse scandal at our briefing in Washington, DC.

“The sex abuse crisis isn’t so much to do about sex as it is about the culture of the church,” said Roberts. The question is “how do we address the clerical culture?”

Allen addressed three implications of the current scandal on the church's public image and its public policy: that the church, in the short term at least, will continue to be self-defensive; that the scandal has made it impossible to tell any other story about the church; and that it may accelerate the shift in the church's population from the global North (Europe, U.S.) to the global South (Latin America, Africa).

Next up is law professor Helen Alvare on 'Abortion and the Significance of the Law.' What questions would you ask of her?

NCR Briefing: the role of the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See

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With years of diverse experience in a role unlike any other, two former U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See just addressed attendees at NCR's "Washington Briefing" here at Trinity University in Washington, DC.

Speaking to the unique abilities of the top American diplomat at the Vatican, former ambassador Jim Nicholson said that, without some of the more pressing military or monetary concerns that face other American missions abroad, you “realize that you have the ability and obligation as the ambassador…to really focuses on moral [questions]….”

In particular, Nicholson mentioned that one of the key issues he advocated as ambassador was the fact that starvation still claims lives everyday. “Everyone who dies from starvation is every bit as dead as those who die from abortion," Nicholson said he would tell members of the Roman curia as ambassador.

Nicholson was U.S ambassador to the Holy See under President George W. Bush. He spoke to conference attendees after Tom Melady, who was ambassador under the first President Bush.

After the ambassadors' remarks, attendees were able to ask them whatever questions they had. Next up for us is NCR correspondent John Allen and NCR editor Tom Roberts on how Catholics are confronting the abuse crisis. What questions would you want to ask? Leave them in the comment field below and I'll try and get a few to John and Tom.

Carry your work to God as true worship

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Once I took a year off to build a small house in the country. I would work mornings at a nearby sawmill, off-loading trim and stacking these for sale to the charcoal factory. Instead of cash I would take my pay in oak and pine lumber which I used to build the house. Afternoons I would gather rocks for the foundation, work on framing the house, nail down planking or apply shingles to the roof. Looking back, it seems one of the most blessed and productive times in my life. And I have a small house to show for all my blood and sweat.

While building the house I would spend some afternoons working in the communal garden on the parcel of land I occupied. For a while month I did the hard work of double-digging required to establish an organic garden in raised beds. Once the beds were in place, the task was to hail in the horse and cow manure, the sand and sawdust that would build up the soil. Then it was time to plant: zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, okra, winter squash, kohlrabi, carrots, onions, even peanuts. As I worked I was serenaded by bluebirds singing in the nearby pasture.

At NCR's Washington Briefing today

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Today is the day!

After months of preparation NCR's" Washington Briefing for the Nation's Catholic Community" is underway in a crowded room here at Trinity University in Washington, D.C. We've got two days full of different speakers and panels ready on a variety of subjects, all with an eye to how Catholics can articulate a vision of our community as advocate, leader and moral compass.

For those who aren't able to join us I'll be blogging bit by bit as we go through the day today. As our publisher Joe Feuerherd just said in his opening remarks, “The Catholic community is a model for a particular style of civic engagement.” Keep checking back to see what that style of civic engagement has to say about our nation today.

Next up: John Allen moderates a panel of US/Vatican relations in the 21st century.

The Domino Effect

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When the Archbishop of Canterbury declared on Good Friday that the Irish hierarchy's admitted mishandling of the child sex abuse scandal had stripped that nation's Catholicism of "all credibility," he might have been talking about the side effects his own Anglicans might suffer.

All roads may not lead to Rome, but most of the media do when it comes to defining Christianity to the world. For better or worse, television has further concentrated this gaze. The center of the Roman Catholic church is, so far as most media are concerned, the place where real Christianity is rooted. All other parties to that tradition are increasingly melded in the public mind.

The emergence of the ecumenical movement in the 1960s strengthened that perception. Though Protestants had initiated that movement earlier in the century, the Second Vatican Council put it on page one and the pope became its sometimes reluctant band leader.

Literalism in Religion

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Last week, on Interfaith Voices, I interviewed a young man who calls himself the Son of Hamas. His father is one of the founders of Hamas, and he was being groomed for leadership. But he was arrested and tortured by the Israelis, and finally came to betray Hamas and work for Israeli intelligence. He also converted from Islam to Christianity.

What struck me in the interview, however, was his literalist understanding of the Muslim holy book, the Qur’an. To him, it is a terrorist book, and both Allah and Mohammed are terrorists. When I pointed out to him that all scriptures are open to interpretation, and that none of the Muslims I had interviewed before would agree with him, he insisted simply, “I am right and they are wrong.”

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