National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

NCR Today

The Marginalization of the Church


The Washington Post this morning has a useful “Status Report” on the health care debate. It lists eight key questions about health care reform such as “What are the major differences between the various bills?” and “Where do the major health-care stakeholders stand?”

Nowhere on the list are the central concerns raised by the USCCB. There is nothing about the status of abortion coverage in either a public option or through subsidies. There is nothing about a conscience clause. And, there is nothing about extending health care coverage to immigrants. In short, this “Status Report” confirms a sad, and important, fact about the political culture. The concerns of the Catholic Church have been marginalized.

Free Market Competition Intensifies Between Rome and Canterbury


This just in: the Episcopal response to Pope Benedict marketing plan to Anglicans:

Dear Benedict,

Hope this finds you in the pink of health as you prepare for the influx of Anglicans. As the Westminster cardinal and the Canterbury Archbishop said the other day, this marks the triumph of ecumenism.

Thanks a whole bunch for your special invitation to join the Roman Catholic Church. And that you'll create a sort of Ellis Island to process whole lots of us at a time. To paraphrase you, it's all for the purpose of welcoming "your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to be free."

I would be remiss if I didn't shout out to Roman Catholics to give us a look. Hospitality goes both ways. We're open for business.

To be honest, your exiles would have to adjust to some harsh realities if they decided to sign in with us. For one thing, they'd have to go along with the ordination of women. And another. They'd have to give up a streamlined system of ruling the church that gives all the power to the (male) clergy and hierachy. No more church conventions where lay people and priests share authority. One boss.

Choose your catalogs wisely


If your recyling bin is stuffed with catalogs you never read, put an end to the pile with the free Catalog Choice service. Catalog Choice lets you select the catalogs you don't want to receive and sends your requests directly to the merchants.

Over 53 million trees are consumed each year to produce paper catalogs. The production of all those catalogs results in 56 billion gallons of wastewater. And when all those catalogs are thrown out it's approximately 4.1 million tons of waste, equal to the annual waste of 2 million households. An emptier mailbox means less pollution, less waste and less of the emissions that cause global warming.

Rather than spend a morning calling companies and asking to be removed from their mailing lists, go to and spend 10 minutes selecting the catalogs you don't want to receive. Catalog Choice will contact the merchants for you and they'll stop sending you catalogs you don't want!

The parable of the sack and the wastebasket


It is not always simple to live simply. It takes energy and skill. Conflict and tension between many opposing factors must be steadily and uncomplainingly borne and confronted creatively. At times it feels like a complex chess game in which one weighs and balances the consequences of an array of moves or choices against the background of countermoves, trying to achieve the position on the board that best honors both our commitment to simple living and all of our other responsibilities, as parents, citizens, spouses, members of communities.

Often it's a matter of making trade-offs or truces, plea-bargaining, or just deciding in which battles we can prevail and in which it might be wiser to retreat or surrender.

What's more, in all kinds of ways, our consumer society mounts hurdles and roadblocks in our path. A television comedienne I saw once talked of visiting the mall to buy a wastebasket for her new apartment. The clerk put the new basket into a sack. She carried the sack home and then threw it into the wastebasket she had just bought after installing it in a corner. "What am I doing?!" she yelped and threw up her hands.

Pope okays new structures to absorb disgruntled Anglican conservatives


Married priests to be part of the deal in new 'personal ordinariates'


tIn a move with potentially sweeping implications for relations between the Catholic church and some 80 million Anglicans worldwide, the Vatican has announced the creation of new ecclesiastical structures to absorb disaffected Anglicans wishing to become Catholics. The structures will allow those Anglicans to hold onto their distinctive spiritual practices, including the ordination of married former Anglican clergy as Catholic priests.

Those structures would be open to members of the Episcopal Church in the United States, the main American branch of the worldwide Anglican Communion. American Episcopalians are said to number some 2.2 million.

Read the full story here: Vatican reveals plan to welcome disaffected Anglicans

St. Paul: New and Improved


The renowned scripture scholars, Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan, have just published a great new book on St. Paul. It's called The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary Behind the Church's Conservative Icon.

These writers say what New Testament scholars have known for some time: that Paul wrote only seven of the Epistles ascribed to him in the New Testament. Among the other six, they say three (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) are definitely not written by Paul, and three others (Ephesians, Colossians and 1 Thessalonians) are disputed, although the majority of scholars believe that Paul did not write these either.

The Moral Superiority of the East Coast


Yes, yes, I am all for recognizing different strokes for different folks. But, it seems to me that the moral superiority of the East Coast has been amply demonstrated by the evil coming from Los Angeles the past few weeks. You do not even have to look closely at your television screen to see it: Empty seats in Dodger Stadium.

St. Augustine taught that evil is an absence and so it is. An empty seat at a play-off game is evidence of someone who not only had something better to do with their time but someone who was too self-absorbed to make sure that someone else got the ticket. It figures that most of the empty seats are prime seats, right behind home plate, although I also spied some empty seats in the upper decks.

I grew up in New England so I am slightly scandalized by an empty seat for a regular season game. At Fenway Park, we regularly have an attendance of around 37,000 and I think Fenway only seats about 35,000. But, even if you have to go the hospital suddenly in an emergency, you grab your ticket and give it to the paramedic. But, give it to him after you get to the hospital because otherwise you might not make it there.

Bad children's books?


My wife is angry. She is telling everyone we know that she is angry. And she is angry because somebody is knocking her favorite children's books.

Now, I'm not talking about the books she read as a child -- when you become parents, your literary love moves from the books you read as a kid, to the books you read to your kids. And this is where the anger comes in.

In a new column called "Parenting on the Edge," Los Angeles Times, writer Madeleine Brand talks about how bad some of the best-known children's books really are -- not bad for children, mind you, bad for parents. Brand's column picks out for special mention The Rainbow Fish, The Runaway Bunny, Love You Forever, and (this is the one that really set my wife off) The Giving Tree.

USA shouldn't have 'working poor'


WASHINGTON – "The term 'working poor' is no longer acceptable," said Fr. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA, at a teleconference launching a national interfaith campaign to promote environmentally green jobs for the poor.

Rabbi Steve Gutow, president of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, said the campaign, Fighting Poverty With Faith, brings together two common concerns of people of all faiths: Care for the poor and care for God's earth.

The coalition seeks to have Congress approve the Gulf Coast Civic Works Act, a bill currently in the House that would create 100,000 green jobs to rebuild America's Gulf Coast communities.

It also seeks Senate passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act, including House-approved provisions to fund extensive job training in green construction for targeted groups of the poor and unemployed. It wants the Senate version of the bill to go beyond the House version by extending funding for the Green Jobs Act past 2013. The House version allocates about $860 million a year to the Green Jobs Act, but would extend that funding only up to 2013.


Subscribe to NCR Today


NCR Email Alerts