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The lives of two great men

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Editorial

The “great man” theory of history -- the idea that individuals (mostly men) of high social, political, economic or scientific rank shape destiny -- has been largely eclipsed. There is much good in that. Today, the stories of the marginalized (such as women, persons of color, the disabled, laborers and farmers, slaves and soldiers, the poor) are now studied in a manner once exclusively reserved to kings and princes, presidents and prime ministers, the rich and famous.

And yet, we are reminded in this issue of NCR, great people do shape events. Edward Kennedy (see story) and William F. Buckley (see story) were two such individuals.

To be “great” does not, to be sure, mean to be always correct. Many in the Catholic community, for example, look at Kennedy’s record on abortion and ask, what if the great liberal lawmaker had used his stature and abilities to promote legal protection to the unborn? He chose another course.

'They are at the center of the church'

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Ministries

“I think the culture wars have been won,” says Mercy Sr. Donna Ryan. In the 13 years she has served as chaplain to a group of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered Catholics, she has seen growing acceptance of this community by society at large. “It is kind of like the church is becoming the last group in our culture to face this reality,” says Ryan. HOPE, the organization she serves in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, was recently asked to leave its meeting place in the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, but the group carries on, she says, because its members “care about the church and they care for one another.”

Ryan has worked in various ministries within the diocese, most recently as education resource coordinator at the cathedral. As the cofounder of the Center for Spirit at Work, she serves working people who wish to integrate spirituality, ethics and values in their work environments.

NCR recently spoke with Ryan about her work as chaplain to HOPE.

NCR: Tell me about your HOPE ministry.

Memoir recalls sometimes strange, always exciting, life

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Though his appearance at his high school alma mater was advertised and anticipated, novelist Christopher Buckley was absent from the two-and-a-half-day early summer conference remembering "The Catholic William F. Buckley Jr." Christopher had a conflict due to a "contractual obligation" in Denver, the gracious host explained, but many of the 125 persons gathered suspected that was a polite excuse.

Ted Kennedy died with faith ñ in us

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Ted Kennedy is dead. Called “the Lion of the Senate” for his extraordinary legislative accomplishments, his own words in eulogy for his brother Robert aptly summarize Ted Kennedy’s own legacy as “a good and decent man who need not be idealized or enlarged in death beyond what he was in life. . . .”

And what was he in life? A man of privilege whose Catholic faith prompted him to pursue the calling of Francis to look first to the needs of the poor. A man of faith, whose last courageous days of suffering exemplified Pope John Paul II’s invitation to cross the threshold, not in fear, but with hope.

Ted Kennedy’s faith also called upon the Nicene Creed to remember that despite our political differences, we remain "one holy catholic and apostolic Church."

For too long in America, people of good will sharing the Catholic faith have been divided. We have been told, or we have convinced ourselves, that unless there is perfect agreement on every issue, there can be no friendship. This is mistaken.

Pope Benedict XVI wrote recently in Caritas in Veritate:

Kennedy remembered: 'finding meaning, value in defeat and loss'

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Sen. Edward Kennedy will always be remembered for the closing words of his address to the Democratic National Convention after he lost his bid for the party’s presidential nomination in 1980: “For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream will never die.” It is fitting that his finest rhetorical moment in a life of superlative oratory came after the one election he lost.

For it was Kennedy’s most Catholic attribute that he could find meaning and value in defeat and loss. Indeed, to give voice to hope and to dare to dream after losing one brother to war, two brothers to assassins’ bullets, a sister to a plane crash and another sister to a distorted notion of therapeutic treatment for the mentally disabled, those words were a human accomplishment, not merely a rhetorical one.

Kim Dae-jung, former South Korea president, dies

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SEOUL, South Korea -- South Korean religious leaders have expressed sorrow over the death of Kim Dae-jung, the country's first Catholic president.

Kim was hospitalized in Seoul July 13 with pneumonia. He died around 2 p.m. Aug. 18. He was 85.

Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk of Seoul issued a condolence message soon after Kim's death was announced, reported the Asian church news agency UCA News.

Baltimoreís OíBrien draws respect across party lines

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Bishops can be classified lots of ways, from the canonical (coadjutor, auxiliary, etc.) to the political (liberal, moderate or conservative). For those inclined to creativity, however, here’s a novel bit of taxonomy: The “Only Nixon could go to China” bishop, meaning a prelate able to say or do paradigm-changing things because nobody can question his credentials as a loyal man of the church.

Raised right, he plays for the Giants now

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Allen and Denise Burriss have taken in the baseball games of their son, Emmanuel, hundreds of times.

In the early days of their 30-year marriage, the native Washingtonians were Little League regulars. Then it was high school, college and Cape Cod League games. These days they show up at major league parks, as when the San Francisco Giants were here in early June for three games with the Washington Nationals.

At nearly 80, sÌ, Dolores Huerta can

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New America Media

Dolores Huerta will be forever linked with Cesar Chávez and Philip Vera Cruz as a cofounder of the United Farm Workers Union in the 1960s. As director of a grape workers strike and a national boycott against grape growers for the meager wages afforded their workers, Huerta was instrumental in orchestrating efforts that led to a major victory for the union and the labor movement.

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September 26-October 9, 2014

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