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Finding a dwelling place

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"May Christ find a dwelling place" Eph 3:8.

I was up past midnight watching an old Will Ferrell movie, "Talledega Nights," and woke up this morning with a spiritual hangover. Lord knows we need our comedians, but someone ought to remind them of Molly Ivins rule that comedy is a tool for poking fun at the powerful, not trashing the underdog. The jokes are lame and crude, the hillbilly caricatures wear you down. And every time I laughed I dug myself in deeper, displacing what sense of fairness and sympathy I try to maintain toward real people, life's ongoing comedy, myself included. And I woke up this morning feeling trashed.

The funeral of Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste

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Below is a photo of residents of Cite de Soleil carrying the coffin of Haitian Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste during his funeral procession in Port-au-Prince June 18.

The funeral procession for Jean-Juste, an ally of Haiti's former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was broken up by gunshots from U.N. soldiers and at least one person was killed. Father Jean-Juste died at age 62 in a Miami hospital May 27.

What an epitaph

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Sometimes when I am stumbling around cyberspace looking for some bit of information, I come across a story about something or someone that completely restores my faith in the innate goodness of human beings.

I don't know Joe Kuban of Fort Worth, Texas, a Catholic school teacher for some 30 years. But I wish I could have known him. I read his obituary online today: Longtime Fort Worth educator Joe Kuban inspired his students. He died June 4 from complications from Lou Gehrig’s disease. He was 59.

The obit described him as "the popular, energetic educator who founded what is believed to be the nation's longest-running high school ecology program."

Mr. Kuban taught generations of students to be free thinkers, appreciate nature’s beauty and become stewards of the land. ...

"He was definitely the real deal," said Nolan teacher Ellen Browning, who heads the ecology program Mr. Kuban started in 1974. "He was passionate about stewardship. Education. Music. His faith. He practiced what he preached. He touched so many lives."

Your 'real father'

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On the way to the library just now, Diane Rehm had as her guest Lennard Davis who has a new book out about discovering who his biological father was.

Mr. Davis is, of course, entitled to live his own life, ask his own questions, and the such. But he and Ms. Rehm continually used the term "real father" to designate one's "biological father." A woman called in and said that she was not raised by her biological parents but that her real parents were the ones who taught her, tolerated her, loved her. Mr. Davis waved off her point with the observation that we humans are inquisitive beings.

Indeed we are. But, Mr. Davis seems not to grasp the very profound point this woman was making and both he and Ms. Rehm continued to use the obnoxious phrases "real father" and "real parent" when they were referring to biological parents who had largely been absent from their progeny's psycho-social development. He seems not very inquisitive about what might make a human being human, apart from a certain manner of clustering DNA.

Bishops' liturgy debate ends in whimper rather than a bang

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Following the most protracted public debate of their June 17-19 spring meeting, the U.S. bishops were unable to make a final decision about four new translations of texts for the Roman Missal, the collection of prayers for use in the Catholic Mass.

Those texts, a set of Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions, represent the latest stage of more than a decade of struggle known colloquially as the “liturgy wars.”

Those debates pitted one camp favoring a contemporary and accessible translation against another seeking a more “sacred” and traditional text, closer to the Latin originals. In that sense, the “liturgy wars” are related to deeper tensions in the church surrounding Catholic identity.

tIn broad strokes, the camp favoring a more traditional text, with Rome's backing, has had the upper hand since the late 1990s, and the texts considered by the bishops in San Antonio bear that stamp.

The four texts up for consideration today were:

* Masses and prayers for various needs and intentions
* Votive Masses and Masses for the dead
* Ritual Masses
* The Order of Mass II

Odd couple combo of bishops strikes blow for transparency

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tIn what some wits might be tempted to call a minor miracle, this morning's session of the U.S. bishops’ meeting in San Antonio produced a small blow for transparency, engineered by an unlikely pair of prelates.

tToday's agenda called for the bishops to vote on several proposed new translations of liturgical texts, and under the rules of the conference a two-thirds vote of all bishops of the Latin Rite is required for approval. After brief floor debate, the vote on the first text ended up falling short, and so Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the USCCB, announced that the measure would have to be settled by mail-ballots from bishops not present in San Antonio.

tIn keeping with the conference’s long-standing practice, George did not announce the results of the inconclusive vote.

At that stage, Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Nebraska, widely seen as one of the most conservative voices in the conference, rose to complain. He argued it’s “silly” that the results of an inconclusive vote are known by the USCCB staff, since they have to compile the results, but not shared with the bishops themselves.

Madoff: The pain and suffering of horrific fraud

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This week the prosecutors in the colossal Madoff ponzi scheme case filed 113 victim impact statements. I read them all and admit that after about 20 of them, they began to look, sound and feel the same. The Wall Street Journal blurb on the matter included this paragraph:

"The letters ... range from one paragraph to several pages. Most are personal tales of loss blamed on Mr. Madoff. The story of Morton Chalek of Port Jefferson Station, N.Y., was typical: "I am 86 years old. I have a broken knee, I have lung cancer and thanks to Madoff, I am now bankrupt." A lawyer for Mr. Madoff, Ira Sorkin, declined to comment."

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July 18-31, 2014

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