The National Catholic Review

In All Things

A group blog by the editors, columnists and frequent contributors to America.

December 2014

  • Dec 26 2014 - 10:30pm
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    Once upon a Christmas Eve many years ago
    When I was a wide-eyed young boy
    My head was full of anticipated Christmas joys
    That were to come in the morning when all would be merry and bright
    Where, amidst the wrappings of all those presents “upon the tree”
    There would be Christmas cheer for everyone, including little old me.

  • Dec 26 2014 - 9:23am
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    Charity may begin at home, as the saying goes, but charity flourishes at Christmas time. The fact that Christmas is conveniently located at the tail end of the calendar year, when our thoughts also turn to last-minute income tax deductions, may add to the dollars donated to charities in December. I prefer to think, however, that Christmas brings out the giver in us all, whether we are Christian or non-, agnostic or atheist. During the holiday season, there is a spirit of giving in the air...

  • Dec 23 2014 - 10:57am
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    Rocks and angry, smashing waves. The film opens and closes on a dismal wilderness of a northwestern Russian seacoast where, to the roar of a funereal organ, the foaming surf smashes against the cliffs. The rotting skeletons of wrecked ships litter the sand and crumbling wharves, while, like the skeleton of a prehistoric monster in a museum, the giant ribs of a long-dead whale curve upward like a ghost or a pagan god delivering a message that has not yet sunk in.

  • Dec 23 2014 - 9:11am
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    The greatest Christmas I ever knew was in 1964. I was four months into religious life, beginning my novitiate as a postulant in the Sisters of Mercy.

  • Dec 22 2014 - 8:13pm
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    Adjunct instructors at St. Michael's

    In a much-anticipated decision last week the National Labor Relations Board ruled on adjuncts’ right to organize at religious colleges and universities. Over the past few years adjunct instructors at several Catholic colleges and universities have filed for union representation elections. Georgetown, St. Michael’s, St. Mary’s and the University of St. Thomas have seen...

  • Dec 22 2014 - 4:45pm
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    New appointment in the diocese of Burlington, Vermont, where Auxiliary Bishop Christopher Coyne of Indianapolis has been named bishop.

    Bishop Coyne, 56, is a prelate who believes in the digital world and became comfortable with social media when it was just becoming known. He evangelizes where young people can be found, on the Web.

  • Dec 22 2014 - 1:17pm
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    Sent to the world's English-speaking media by Father Thomas Rosica, CSB, English-language assistant to Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the papal spokesperson:

  • Dec 20 2014 - 6:58am
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    At the news of the thawing of Washington’s cold shoulder toward Cuba, and the pope’s role in brokering it, I’ve been returning to “Wrestling with Angels,” the memoir of Paul Mayer, a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who became a Catholic priest, then a husband and father, and who died a year ago in November.

  • Dec 19 2014 - 10:33am
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    Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, recently reasserted that his government is determined to reach a nuclear deal with representatives of the six major powers negotiating with Iran—Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States—the so-called Six.

    Last month, talks between the two sides were extended for a second time, for an additional seven months. (Read my earlier analysis of the talks here...

  • Dec 18 2014 - 11:59am
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    Courtesy of The Colbert Report.

    As 'The Colbert Report' comes to an close (its final episode airs tonight, Thursday, December 18), America talks with our own Fr. James Martin, S.J., dubbed "The Colbert Report's Chaplain," about the good humor and effective evangelization of our nation'...

  • Dec 18 2014 - 10:58am
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    Maybe Mother Clare Millea benefited from the low expectations that come with an impossible task. Whatever the case, the nun who heads the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus pulled off the apostolic visitation of all active nuns in the United States with a sense of aplomb and fairness. Kudos came from many places, including media that stood ready to pounce if anything seemed unfair.

    So why did Mother Clare succeed despite predictions she would flame out?

  • Dec 17 2014 - 9:01am
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    David Domke is professor and chairman of the Department of Communication at the University of Washington. He teaches about political rhetoric, media relations and communication. He holds a Ph.D. in Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota.

  • Dec 16 2014 - 4:22pm
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    The Apostolic Visitation Final Report has been awaited, variously, with expectation, fear, or indifference by both American women religious and the larger church. In our currently polarized ideological climate, some looked forward to a document that would expose the sisters’ waywardness and demand specific reforms. Others viewed such an outcome with deep dread. Still others were so alienated from any initiative emanating from the hierarchy that they had already resolved to ignore it...

  • Dec 16 2014 - 3:41pm
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    The recently released Apostolic Visitation Final Report acknowledges the challenges of contemporary vocation promotion for women religious.

  • Dec 16 2014 - 2:52pm
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    The Final Report of the Apostolic Visitation of Women Religious in the United States is positive, realistic and hopeful. The report expresses gratitude for the lives and works of women religious, those of the past and of today. The methodology of the study allowed the Apostolic Visitors to hear the concerns of sisters and so the report lists challenges for religious institutes, many of which are not new but are put in a new and coherent context regarding our way of life in the church. But...

  • Dec 16 2014 - 7:06am
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    Catholic sisters in the United States can breathe a sigh of relief.  The final report of the Vatican investigation of American women’s religious orders, issued today, is a positive, sometimes adulatory, document, which praises the many contributions of women religious in this country.  It takes a generous approach and includes none of the critiques that many American sisters...

  • Dec 16 2014 - 7:00am
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    Never has so much been done for so few.

    That paraphrase of Churchill’s statement on Britain’s defense of England in World War II can be said about efforts of religious orders to draw new members in the last half century. The concern runs through the much-awaited apostolic visitation final report, dated Sept. 8, 2014, and released Dec. 16 in Rome.

  • Dec 16 2014 - 7:00am
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    Mother Mary Clare Millea, Superior General of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart, was appointed by the Vatican to lead the Apostolic Visitation to Institutes of Religious Women of the United States. She is a native of Connecticut and entered the Congregation of the Sacred Heart in 1965. She holds a doctorate in canon law from the Lateran University in Rome and was elected superior general of her congregation in 2004. Mother Millea discussed the...

  • Dec 12 2014 - 10:10pm
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  • Dec 12 2014 - 3:52pm
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    Two years after a school shooting in Newtown, Conn., horrified the nation, not much has changed in terms of U.S. gun laws and the number of weapons in circulation in the United States has only increased. Worst of all, according to one gun-control advocacy group, 94 other school shooting incidents have been recorded across the nation—nearly one every week. These school shootings resulted in 45 deaths and 78 non-fatal gunshot injuries. In 32 percent of these incidents at least one person died...

  • Dec 12 2014 - 11:10am
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    Update: It turns out that Pope Francis did not say that animals are going to heaven.  Paul VI said it.  The illuminating tale of how this supposed quote ended up on the front page of The New York Times is covered by David Gibson here at RNS.  It's an excellent piece of journalistic sleuthing.  The only way that story could get any more complicated is if in a fews...

  • Dec 11 2014 - 2:44pm
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    When President Obama spoke to the nation of Nov. 20, making his case for taking executive action on immigration, he turned to Scripture: “we shall not oppress a stranger, for we know the heart of a stranger. We were strangers once, too.” Even those with little familiarity with the Bible did not have to be told the story behind this verse (Ex 22:20), a story of exile and freedom invoked by the president as a reminder that we are a nation of immigrants.

  • Dec 10 2014 - 9:00am
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    Father Robert P. Reed is a Massachusetts-based priest of the Archdiocese of Boston and President of The CatholicTV Network since 2005. He attended Saint Johns Preparatory School and studied for the priesthood at the Pontifical...

  • Dec 9 2014 - 9:13am
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    A new troubling trend marks the U.S. church: the decline in Catholic funerals. It will affect Catholic life in the future if a basic tradition dies out. It also affects pastoral life now if people deprive themselves of closure after the death of a loved one.

    Those for whom funeral rites are not celebrated today have often been lifelong Catholics who presume their children will arrange a traditional funeral for them when they die. Some parents may want to alert offspring that they want...

  • Dec 5 2014 - 4:50pm
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    Given the state of race relations in our country, it may seem superfluous to be writing about the remembrance of a person who is popularly portrayed in the culture as a white bearded jolly fellow in a red suit and black boots with a sack overloaded with presents for expectant children waiting and dreaming of what they will find underneath a beautifully decorated tree on Christmas morning. In actuality, December 6th is the Feast Day of St.

  • Dec 5 2014 - 11:21am
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    One of this year’s critically acclaimed movies, “Boyhood,” directed by Richard Linklater, traces the life of a young boy and his family from the time he is a 5-year-old kid to the time he starts his freshman year of college as a young man. The movie is unique in that the same actors play the same roles over the 12 years that are covered in the film. In time-lapse fashion, the characters grow and change and age. The little...

  • Dec 5 2014 - 9:59am
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    The riots in Ferguson in the days following Michael Brown’s death were apparently spontaneous emotional outbursts. The looting and burning occurred mainly along several blocks of West Florissant Avenue. By November, some of the stores had reopened and others were still under repair. Perhaps a few would never be able to reopen. Then came the riots of Nov. 24, upon the announcement that the grand jury declined to indict Officer Darren Wilson. These riots damaged businesses over a much larger...

  • Dec 4 2014 - 11:07am
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    On Dec. 3 a Staten Island grand jury decided not to indict New York City police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, in the death of Eric Garner on July 17. The decision arrives less than two weeks after a grand jury on Nov. 24 reached a similar decision in the case of Ferguson, Mo., police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9.

  • Dec 3 2014 - 12:34pm
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    Bishop John Kudrick at a diaconate ordination in Indianapolis on Nov. 23 (St. Athanasius the Great Byzantine Catholic Church)

    Bishop John Kudrick has served as Byzantine Catholic ordinary of the Ruthenian Eparchy of Parma, covering several Midwestern U.S. states, since 2002. Born in Western Pennsylvania to a Byzantine Catholic father and Roman Catholic mother, he grew up with the Roman Catholic Mass...

  • Dec 3 2014 - 9:37am
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    A contemplative movement of Christian Centering Prayer is quietly (almost secretly) reviving religious life and faith in society. Here in the land of “the spiritual, but not religious,” and growing numbers of “Nones,” or non-church affiliated, a new form of evangelization is appearing. Centering Prayer is a practice of silent prayer that is a stripped-to-essentials form of Christian monastic contemplation. The current method was developed in the 1970’s by Trappist Father Thomas Keating...

  • Dec 2 2014 - 9:37pm
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    Cambridge, MA. The Vatican was today (December 2), International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, the site for an unprecedented gathering of religious leaders, signing together a Declaration of Religious Leaders against Slavery. You can read the Pope’s speech here.

  • Dec 2 2014 - 12:29pm
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    When we think of martyrs for justice in the world today, the beatitudes that immediately spring to mind may be “blessed are the peacemakers,” or even “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.” We likely don’t give much thought to the martyrs as the pure of heart.

  • Dec 2 2014 - 12:25pm
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    Soon after Georgetown’s adjunct faculty and administration modeled collaborative labor-management relations for the world in their recent contract negotiations, faculty at another Catholic campus have opted for union representation. Adjuncts at St. Michael's College in Vermont  have voted 2-1 to form a union.