National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source


Could Catholic letter to editor be behind Bush's cancellation of talk?


SALYERSVILLE, Ky. -- President George W. Bush will no longer be spending "A Day Among Friends, Part 2," as advertised, at St. Mark's Catholic Church, Richmond, Ky., May 3. The cancellation -- or postponement -- could be because of the content of a letter to the editor in the Lexington Herald-Leader that was headlined: "Bush visit offers contrast with Catholic teaching."

Narnia or Neverland? Christians choose their favorite fantasy land


Evangelicals prefer Narnia, Catholics have a wanderlust for Wonderland and mainline Protestants are split between hitching a ride to Hogwarts, Narnia or Neverland.

Those are the results from a unique poll by the television show "60 Minutes" and Vanity Fair magazine. The survey asked 1,000 Americans what fantasy land they'd most like to visit.

Evangelicals showed a clear preference for Narnia, the fantastical world of talking beasts entered through an enchanted wardrobe in C.S. Lewis' series The Chronicles of Narnia.

Lewis, an Anglican, topped the list for 28 percent of evangelicals. Both his fiction -- commonly interpreted as Christian allegories -- and his nonfiction have become touchstones in contemporary evangelicalism.

Just 8 percent of evangelicals said they would like to visit Hogwarts, the school of witchcraft and wizardry from the Harry Potter series.

Alice's Wonderland was many Catholics' cup of tea, with 21 percent saying they'd like to take a trip down the rabbit hole. Peter Pan's Neverland (18 percent), Hogwarts (18 percent) and J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth (16 percent) weren't far behind.

Pro-Tutu petitions flood Gonzaga


SPOKANE, Wash. -- After almost 700 people tried to push Gonzaga University to rescind its commencement speaker's invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, supporters of the anti-apartheid hero responded with 11,000 signatures of their own.

Opponents claim the Jesuit school had lost sight of its Catholic values by inviting the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa, to speak at next month's commencement and receive an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Now a second petition is circulating, this one protesting the anti-Tutu petition.

"For some time now the religious right, and Catholic right in particular, has been succeeding in creating these ridiculous controversies around who speaks on Catholic college campuses," said Michael Sherrard, director of Faithful America, an online community sponsored by Faith in Public Life.

The original petition, spearheaded by Spokane attorney Patrick Kirby, called Tutu an inappropriate choice because he supports abortion rights, has made offensive statements toward Jews, and supports contraception and the ordination of gay clergy.

Colleagues celebrate career of Fr. Richard McBrien


To the dismay of the right and pleasure of the rest, theologian Fr. Richard McBrien has popularized Vatican II theology more than any other person.

After 45 years of his award-winning weekly column (2,364 in all) titled “Essays in Theology”; after 20 books, including Catholicism, originally a two-volume synthesis of Catholic theology; after serving as president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and after being the recipient of its highest honor, the John Courtney Murray Award; after countless papers and speeches; after all this and more, McBrien will be honored April 27 at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, where he has taught for 30 years.

Young 'Millennials' losing faith in record numbers


WASHINGTON -- A growing tide of young Americans is drifting away from the religions of their childhood -- and most of them are ending up in no religion at all.

One in four young adults choose "unaffiliated" when asked about their religion, according to a new report from the Public Religion Research Institute and Georgetown University's Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs.

But most within this unaffiliated group -- 55 percent -- identified with a religious group when they were younger.

"These younger unaffiliated adults are very nonreligious," said Daniel Cox, PRRI's research director. "They demonstrate much lower levels of religiosity than we see in the general population," including participation in religious rituals or worship services.

Some of them will return to their faiths as they age, "but there's not a lot of evidence that most will come back," added Cox, who said the trend away from organized religion dates back to the early 1990s.

Indianapolis bishop decries 'attempted ordination' of former nun as priest


INDIANAPOLIS -- The apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis spoke out against the "attempted ordination" of a former nun to the priesthood.

"I am saddened that the woman who attempted ordination and anyone who took part in this invalid ceremony have chosen to take such a public action to separate themselves from the church," said a statement Tuesday by Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis, who is overseeing the archdiocese until a successor is named for recently retired Archbishop Daniel M. Buechlein.

The Catholic church frequently uses the term "attempted ordination" since it does not view the ordination of woman as neither valid nor licit.

The ceremony for Maria McClain took place Sunday in Indianapolis with a woman bishop from the group Roman Catholic Womenpriests presiding. Coyne called it "a schismatic group."

"This group has no valid connection to the Roman Catholic Church or the Archdiocese of Indianapolis," he added. "Any supposed 'ordination' this group performed has no relationship with the sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church and is not valid."

Dorothy Day's 'filthy, rotten system' likely wasn't hers at all



By the time I arrived at the Catholic Worker in New York in 1975, a poster featuring Bob Fitch’s photo of Dorothy Day was already ubiquitous. It could be found, and can still be found today, tacked on the walls of soup kitchens, hospitality houses and farming communes, or mounted and framed in rectories and academics’ studies.

Dorothy, already in her 70s, is sitting serenely, almost regally, on a campstool, framed by guns and clubs hanging on the belts of two cops ready to take her into custody. The text under the photo, “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system,” attributed to Dorothy Day, is widely quoted by scholars, journalists and Catholic Workers, even more since her death in 1980. It is rare to find a reference to Dorothy and the movement she cofounded that does not include it, and some offer it as a distillation of her prodigious body of writing into a few pithy words.

This is Dorothy Day’s most famous quote. The problem is that she probably never said it.

'Reverts' return to their childhood faith


Bruce Boling was set to celebrate Easter Sunday among Southern Baptists, just as he did when he prayed at a tiny Kentucky church where his family filled half the pews.

After decades away from faith, "I slowly began to see what I was missing was the relationship with God that I could find in my church," said Boling, 45, who has settled in with a little Baptist congregation in Hendersonville, Tenn.

Catholic Charities moves on childhood obesity


Theologians who study Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body might consider adding a new chapter to that work, a chapter the late, athletically inclined pope would no doubt approve, a chapter for the too many Americans in deep, deep trouble. The wrong kind of calories and not enough exercise have created an unprecedented childhood obesity epidemic in the United States.

Symposium discusses future of Catholic health care


As Catholic health care systems struggle to survive in a competitive industry, some leaders of the traditionally nonprofit organizations are considering the for-profit model as an alternative.

But how would a change in corporate structure impact the Catholic mission and identity at the core of these organizations?

The question came up again and again as experts in health care, finance and law met with others interested in the future of Catholic health care at Seton Hall Law School in Newark, N.J., March 26-27 to study the issue at a symposium titled, "Is for-profit structure a viable alternative for Catholic health care ministry?"


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