National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

Liturgical impoliteness: what my mother would say

 | 

I've been thinking lately about the decision of Bishop Edward Slattery of Oklahoma City to begin facing the altar, rather than the people, at Mass.

Bishop Slattery says he is celebrating ad orientem, (facing East) as part of his urging Catholics "to draw upon the ancient liturgical practice of the church to recover a more authentic Catholic worship."

Authentic tradition of Catholic worship? From what age of the church, I wonder. Surely not the Last Supper. And surely not the "house churches" in the early centuries of Christianity where people sat around a table.

But mostly, I cannot image a faster way to alienate people in parishes than to do this. After decades of being taught that the Eucharist is a communal celebration, this feels like shunning the People of God. I want to ask Bishop Slattery: Are you afraid of the people? If not, then why… as my mother would say… are you being so impolite?

Pope pushes Obama envoy on abortion, conscience protections

 | 

Rome -- Miguel Diaz presented his credentials to Pope Benedict XVI this morning as President Barack Obama's ambassador to the Holy See, and the new envoy drew a pledge of cooperation on international issues from the pope, as well as clear insistence upon "the inalienable right to life from the moment of conception to natural death," as well as "the right to conscientious object on the part of health care workers, and indeed all citizens."

Obama in Copenhagen

 | 

Conservatives never tire of finding things to criticize about President Obama and his decision to go to Copenhagen to lobby on behalf of his hometown’s bid for the 2016 Olympic Games is no exception. Do they really think the President can’t fly and chew bubble gum at the same time? Hell, his plane comes with a bedroom so he can sleep soundly and conduct meetings on the flight back.

I was surprised about his decision to go in person to Copenhagen not because of his busy schedule but because he risks a highly visible loss. Chicago has never held the Games, but the city’s bid is now the American bid, not just the city’s. And America has hosted the summer Olympics four times, most recently in 1996 when Atlanta played host. Incidentally, the Atlanta Games were loudly criticized for their hyper-commercialization and the poor layout of the venues and consequent daily traffic nightmares. The United States has also hosted the winter games four times.

A new Catholic labor blog worth watching

 | 

Bill Lange, a long time Milwaukee Catholic labor activist has started a blog. Those interested in progressive Catholic social justice issues might be well served to keep an eye on it.

Lange writes:

Let me relate some of the many reasons I am doing this blog. First: the Labor Movement and the Faith Community can have a greater political impact for justice with a combined effort. Second: to show the path to reconciliation of positions if there is conflict between them such as the wedge issues of abortion, gay rights, and stem cell research. Third: A valuable contribution of the Encyclicals is that they establish the ‘why’ of an economic system and the ‘how’ follows. Contemporary economics assumes the ‘why’ as a given with little comment.

A time to build

 | 

One of the benefits of living next door to small children is that they have taken an interest in the toys we packed away long ago as our own son outgrew them. He is out of college now, so we are talking about ancient bins of plastic Legos and sets of Playmobile people who once inhabited little houses made of foamboard and lots of glue -- "projects" that threatened to take over whole rooms in our house. That first round of playing with him was a rediscovery of my own childhood, and now I get to do it again.

Pride, ambivalence about Americans in Benedict's Vatican

 | 

By JOHN L. ALLEN JR.
Rome

tI lunched with a veteran Italian vaticanista, meaning a journalist who specializes in the Vatican, this week. At one point, more or less out of the blue, he said to me: “You know, the American imprint on this pope’s curia is impressive.”

t(The Italian word he used was impressionante, which, if anything, is perhaps a bit stronger than “impressive,” suggesting something truly remarkable.)

tHe proceeded to tick off examples: Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office; Cardinal Francis Stafford and Archbishop Raymond Burke, who headed two of the three Vatican courts (Stafford just resigned in June); and Archbishop James Harvey, still the prefect of the Papal Household. (Harvey was appointed to that position by John Paul II in 1998.)

In addition, the Americans are the only national bloc other than the Italians to have at least one official working in virtually every Vatican office.

Resigned Calif. bishop gravely ill

 | 

Former Santa Rosa Bishop G. Patrick Ziemann is dying of pancreatic cancer at an Arizona monastery where he settled after resigning in disgrace from leadership of the North Coast diocese 10 years ago.

Ziemann resigned abruptly in 1999 following revelations of his homosexual relationship with another priest. He left the diocese $16 million in debt.

“Like all of us, he had his faults. At the same time, he did a lot of good ... Now is the time to have him in our prayers," said Bishop Daniel Walsh of Santa Rosa, Calif., about his predecessor

Ziemann, 68, is prepared to die from the cancer that has spread to his liver, said his attorney, Chris Andrian of Santa Rosa.

“He is definitely at peace and ready to be with God, as he said to me,” Andrian said Monday.

Read more

Sister Surveys -- What Might Have Been

 | 

The storm over Rome's investigation of American sisters makes me wish that someone of the stature of the late Sister Marie Augusta Neal were doing the kind of sister surveys for which she was renowned.

Neal, one of the first women to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard, conducted all-inclusive surveys to study the influence of Vatican II's directive to U.S. sisters to renew their communities. The first was in 1966, in the wake of that call, and the second was done in 1982. Combined, they showed solid and increasing support for changes instituted by the congregations: housing, work, prayer and personal growth.

In the current turmoil, such a survey could clear up lots of confusion and misunderstanding. Perhaps there is much more of a live-and-let-live frame of mind among both conservatives and liberals. If a majority of sisters on both sides viewed religious life as a common devotion with multiple expressions, would that make a difference? What do sisters themselves think, apart from their leadership or the local bishop's attitudes or Rome's agenda? That would, of course, assume that sisters had a role in deciding their futures.

Pages

Subscribe to NCR Today

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

August 15-28, 2014

08-15-2014.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.