Regular readers know that I am a huge fan of Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap, the Archbishop of Boston. What he has accomplished since he arrived in Boston is nothing short of spectacular: A Church that was in free fall is now back on its feet, donations are up, vocations are up, new ecclesial movements are active and engaged. He was vilified unfairly for his decision to preside at the funeral of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy but he stood his ground and showed a grieving family (and a grieving Commonwealth) why the Church is at her best at a funeral, showing the compassionate and merciful face of Christ to those who mourn.
It was the story that had everything: a beautiful Hollywood actress whose star was on the rise, a debonair Italian entrepreneur who purported to do both well and good, a former president and his billionaire buddy, a would-be president of the other party and, not least, Vatican intrigue.
Remember Raffaelo Follieri? Tonight CNBC premiers its documentary, part of its “American Greed” series, on the New York-based “real estate developer” whose business plan included buying up aging US parishes and converting them into “socially responsible” properties – such as day care centers and housing for the aged.
The promo for the show (a short advertisement for CNBC is, unfortunately, at the frontend of the clip) can be found here.
Turns out the business was a scam. Follieri, who once lived in the Trump Towers and maintained a Park Avenue office opposite the Waldorf Astoria, now resides in Federal prison.
Oh, but what a scam!
Sr. Rose Pacatte looks at Oscar nominated films for 2010 using the theme of "human connections" as lens through which to view them.
Best animated film of the year
I love the quirky humor of "The Fantastic Mr. Fox" and the depth of feeling in "Up," but in such a worthy category, on principle I would be happy to see "The Princess and the Frog" or "Coraline" win because the films are good and the protagonists are girls. There are so few heroines in animation that I like to celebrate them when I can. All of the stories in these films are about being connected in the family (or animal version of it) or the community. I didn't see "The Secret of Kells."
Achievement in directing
Any of these five directors: James Cameron ("Avatar"), Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker") Quentin Tarantino ("Inglorious Basterds"), Lee Daniels ("Precious") and Jason Reitman ("Up in the Air") could walk away with the Oscar. My vote goes to Kathryn Bigelow for her intelligence, heart, and artistic restraint that she brought to "The Hurt Locker."
Best documentary feature
Today is the feast of St. Katharine Drexel, founder of the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament.
Katharine was born in Philadelphia in 1858 to Francis Drexel, financier and philanthropist, and his wife, Hannah Langstroth.
(Drexel & Co., the source of Francis Drexel's fortune, would eventually be part of Drexel Burnham Lambert.)
Hannah Langstroth Drexel died a month after Katharine's birth. In 1860, Katharine's father married Emma Bouvier.
Here are the top, most-viewed pages on NCRonline.org in February.
My colleague and friend Tom Roberts has an important post on the NCR website about the contrasting “hermeneutics” with which people view Vatican II. It goes without saying that there are some people, but I doubt many, who believe that Vatican II was a mistake and wish to roll back the clock. I do not rank Pope Benedict among those few.
Kentucky farmer and poet Wendell Berry formulated these principles for a sustainable economy, one which focuses on community and the common good. A community economy is not an economy in which well-placed persons can make a "killing." It is an economy whose aim is generosity and a well-distributed and safeguarded abundance.
Wendell Berry is a strong defender of family, rural communities, and traditional family farms. These underlying principles could be described as "the preservation of ecological diversity and integrity, and the renewal, on sound cultural and ecological principles, of local economies and local communities:
1. Always ask of any proposed change or innovation: What will this do to our community? How will this affect our common wealth.
2. Always include local nature – the land, the water, the air, the native creatures – within the membership of the community.
3. Always ask how local needs might be supplied from local sources, including the mutual help of neighbors.
4. Always supply local needs first (and only then think of exporting products – first to nearby cities, then to others).
The law permitting same sex marriage goes into effect in the District of Columbia Wednesday, March 3. It prohibits any kind of discrimination against couples in a same sex union.
So, in advance of that, Catholic Charities of Washington, in order to avoid paying health care benefits to employees who may be in same sex unions, announced that it would no longer cover any spouse of an employee unless he or she is already enrolled in the health care plan. Employees got the news by e-mail March 1, and the policy is effective March 2.
The archdiocese could have done what the Archdiocese of San Francisco did years ago, namely, decided to cover “domestic partners” while expanding the definition of “domestic partner” to include a parent, sibling or someone else in a household. Instead, it eliminated benefits for all spouses.
Catholic social justice teaching has long advocated worker benefits such as health care. It is sad that this teaching was trumped in order to discriminate against a whole class of citizens. It is a decision the Archdiocese will someday come to regret.
As Michael Sean Winters reported last week, the U.S. bishops' conference sub-committee on the church in Latin America established a special advisory committee to assess the on-going relief work in Haiti following the Jan. 12 earthquake.
As part of the effort, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of San Antonio is leading a group representing the conference to Haiti Monday through Wednesday. Here are some photos from that trip.