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British Catholic bishops issue an election guide

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The general election in Britain is turning -- unexpectedly -- into a tight race, according to an article in today's Wall Street Journal. David Cameron's Conservative Party has had a substantial lead over the U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown's ruling Labour Party, but the latest polls show that lead dwindling.

Meanwhile, over the weekend, the British press was reporting that the Catholic bishops would be releasing an election guide that The Times of London said would "take a line that is economically to the left of centre but conservative on social issues such as marriage, education and care for the elderly."

The Telegraph called the 10-page document titled, "Choosing the Common Good," an endorsement of the Tories (i.e., the Conservative Party).

Manure becomes pollutant as its volume becomes unmanageable

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The Washington Post reported recently that the United States has significantly reduced human-sourced pollutants over the last 40 years that once left rivers and lakes dead, discolored and occasionally flammable, but now has "managed to smother the same waters with the most natural stuff in the world."

A March 1 feature story by David Fahrenthold pointed out that animal manure, a byproduct of the new breed of megafarms, has become an unlikely modern pollution problem, according to scientists and environmentalists. Livestock now produce three times as much waste as people, more than can be recycled for nearby fields.

That excess manure gives off air pollutants and "it is this country's fastest-growing large source of methane, a greenhouse gas."

What's more, it washes down stream then down river with rains, helping to cause the 230 oxygen-deprived "dead zones" that have spread along the U. S. coast. In the Chesapeake Bay, about one-fourth of the pollution that leads to dead zones can be traced to "the back end of cows, pigs, chickens and turkeys."

Religious meet in St. Louis to train for Apostolic Visation on site visits

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Mother Mary Clare Millea, Apostolic Visitator for Institutes of Women Religious, conducted an orientation workshop in St. Louis Feb. 26-28 for religious assisting with on-site visits of the Apostolic Visitation, according to a press her group released today.

According to the release, 78 women and men religious who will serve as on-site visitors to selected religious congregations were invited to attend the training session.

Sister Joan McGlinchey, MSC, Vicar for Religious for the Archdiocese of Chicago, served as facilitator for the weekend event.

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, chairman-elect of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, and Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport celebrated the Eucharist for the assembly.

Questions about end of life directives

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In November, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops approved a revised ethical and religious directive. It states in part that Catholic health facilities have “an obligation to provide patients with food and water, including medically assisted nutrition and hydration for those who cannot take food orally.”

A Tulsa hospital is learning how this directives may play out: Catholic directive may thwart end-of-life wishes Bishops cite 'obligation’ for using feeding tubes at religious facilities

Mar. 1, St. David, Patron of Wales

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Today is Dydd G?yl Dewi Sant, the feast of St. David of Wales, a sixth-century monastic founder and bishop. St. David is venerated in the Catholic Church, in the Anglican Communion, and in the Orthodox Church.

It is a day to wear a leek or a daffodil, to eat cawl and drink water.

David was known as the Waterman because he and his monks drank only water, no beer, no wine. And they plowed without oxen. Every man his own ox, was one of St. David's rules.

Obama wants nuclear posture review statement rewritten

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President Barack Obama has ordered the rewriting of the draft new US Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), amid frustration in the White House that the document fails to reflect his aspirations for a nuclear-weapons-free world and an end to "cold war thinking," according to a report in a British newspaper.

The review, drawn up by each administration, sets the doctrine justifying both the retention of nuclear weapons and the circumstances in which they might be used. It also determines more practical issues, including nuclear force readiness, targeting and war planning.

Morning Briefing

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Catholic Charities head says U.S. health system causes poverty

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WASHINGTON -- Fr. Larry Snyder, president and CEO of Catholic Charities USA, said the U.S. health care system needs to be fixed because it has become "an underlying cause for the proliferation of poverty in America."

He linked health care reform to the fight against poverty in a statement released Feb. 25 as President Obama and other top government officials held a seven-hour bipartisan summit on health care reform with leading Republicans and Democrats in Congress.

As the legislators and administration officials were meeting on the issue, he said, "it is essential that they recognize the implications of inaction."

The burdens of health care costs are "pushing a new generation of Americans into poverty," he said.

He urged the leaders to "recognize the moral imperative of addressing the need for affordability and accessibility of health care that respects the dignity of life."

"CCUSA believes the call for health care reform represents a national moral crisis, but recognizes that the nation's poor are living this reality as an economic crisis," he said.

Health care: a comedy of errors?

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I often chuckle out loud at some of the statements made in the current health care debate. Even yesterday, when the discussion at the “Health Care Summit” was at least civil, some Republicans continued to repeat their best laugh lines. For example, they talked about a “government take-over of health care.” As someone who wishes the government would indeed “take over” health insurance with a single payer system, I just laugh out loud when I think about the bill they call a “government takeover.”

And then there are the comic props. Like the 2,000-plus pages stacked on top of each other, as if one could do comprehensive reform in an abbreviated form.

But at the heart of all this debate is the quest for the common good. That’s a top value in the Catholic moral tradition, and many others. It means -- among other things -- concern for those with pre-existing conditions who can’t get insurance, for those summarily dropped by profit-gouging insurance companies when they get too sick, and for the 30 million-plus who have no insurance at all.

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July 4-17, 2014

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