National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

U.S. sex abuse survivors extend network in Germany


Munich, Germany

Barbara Blaine and Barbara Dorris of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), are here for a day before heading to Vienna and Berlin. They placed several dozen photographs of children abused by priests at the front gate of the office of Archbishop Reinhard Marx, who heads the archdiocese of Munich and Freising.

U. N. report released on World Water Day says more people die from polluted water than from wars


Dirty water is killing more people than wars and other violence, the United Nations announced on World Water Day.

Almost all dirty water produced in homes, businesses, farms, and factories in developing countries washs into rivers and seas without being decontaminated.

What's more, over half of water supplies that have been purified to the point that they are potable are lost through leaky pipes and ill-maintained sewage networks, according to a report released today. Saving half of these lost supplies could give clean water to 90 million people without the need for costly new infrastructure, says the U. N. report.

“The sheer scale of dirty water means more people now die from contaminated and polluted water than from all forms of violence including wars,” the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said.

This includes 2.2 million people whose deaths are attributed to diarrhea, mostly from dirty water, and 1.8 million children aged under five who succumb to water-borne diseases. This equates to one infant every 20 seconds.

The Indispenable Sister Carol


It is always a bit dangerous to predict how future historians will interpret events. Certainly, Xavier Rynne never foresaw Jospeh Raztinger, by way of example. But, when historians come to analyze the reasons health care reform passed this time when such political giants as FDR and LBJ failed to achieve it, many people will get the credit. First and foremost, the voters who elected Barack Obama who pledged to deliver health care reform deserve a large bit of credit. Obama himself deserves his share of the plaudits, especially because the Massachusetts special election in January gave him ample reason to set the troublesome issue aside. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s performance shamed the historical reputation of the men who wielded the Speaker’s gavel before her. But, one woman seems to me to have been especially indispensable: Sister Carol Keehan.

The great balancing act


How do we live out our unique identity and embrace our own mystery? One way is to open the ancient overflowing toolbox of our spiritual traditions. Nestled therein are many reliable implements that have stood the test of centuries of use in the work of creative inner integration and soul crafting.

What are some of these tools? Patience, silence, incubating darkness, the wonderful yeasting action of prayer, wise and careful discernment, the adventure of striving for simplicity, meditation techniques, the great and not-so-easy art of letting go, the simple craft of mindfulness, the call to the death-rebirth dynamic of the paschal mystery, the cultivation of a contemplative attitude, renunciation, fasting, forgiveness, and the endless mystery of forgiving others.

Who's Cutting Slack for Whom?


It's been a while since "permissiveness" was blamed for America's social ills. Wall Street thievery and wildcate ventures including Bernie Madoff's helped set aside the notion that the old nemesis could be invoked on liberals with impunity -- and permissiveness talk sort of went away.

Now the pope's letter to the Irish, and the premise behind Rome's investigation of nuns, signal a revival. In one case, Benedict says child abuse was in large measure egged on when the "renewal" called for by Vatican II "was sometimes misinterpreted," a situation made more confusing by "profound social change" in and around it.

Nothing Benedict says indicates he thinks anything is wrong with church laws and discipline. Things just got lax and the church sheriffs were distracted from enforcing those laws. The remedy is to do a better job. There's no need to reform the system itself.

Unmentioned is the permissivness angle. Bishops are told they "failed, at times, greviously, to apply the long established norms of canon law to the crime of child abuse." But so far the bishops face no sanctions for this permissive behavior.

Stupak & White House Reach Agreement


Congressman Bart Stupak is holding a news conference as I write with his fellow pro-life Democrats. They announced an agreement with the White House for an executive order that confirms a pro-life interpretation of any ambiguous aspects of the current health care bill. Some on the Left charged that Stupak’s concern about the abortion language in the bill was all a ruse to defeat the health care bill. They owe the congressman an apology – he held the critical, decisive number of votes in his group, and he has delivered them.

Stupak’s commitment to pro-life principles in beyond question; in this murky world of politics if anything is clear, it is clear that Stupak was willing to defeat the bill unless he felt his concerns about abortion funding were met. So, it will be interesting to see which groups – and which Catholic blogs – denounce him now. This will distinguish those whose primary concern is for the protection of unborn life from those whose primary concern is the promotion of the GOP’s agenda.


Subscribe to NCR Today


NCR Email Alerts


In This Issue

January 29-February 11, 2016


Some articles are only available in the print newspaper and Kindle edition.