NCR In Conversation

In Conversation is an in-depth look at the week's Catholic news as seen by the staff at National Catholic Reporter. Hosted by NCR engagement editor Brittany Wilmes, In Conversation features the top thinkers and journalists who report on the life of the Catholic church in the world. National Catholic Reporter is an independent newspaper based in Kansas City, Missouri. Read more at
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NCR In Conversation


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Apr 13, 2018

On Monday April 9, the Vatican announced the release of a new papal document titled Gaudete et Exsultate, or “Rejoice and Be Glad!” NCR's Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee and Marymount University theologian Brian Flanagan discuss the document on the call to holiness in today's world.

Apr 6, 2018

NCR contributors Patricia Lefevere and Alex Mikulich talk about Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life and legacy and the shared inspiration that drove King and Thomas Merton to do parallel work for equality.

Mar 30, 2018

NCR columnist Melissa Musick Nussbaum and her daughter Anna Keating are the co-authors of The Catholic Catalogue: A Field Guide to the Daily Acts That Make Up a Catholic Life. Published by Image in 2016, the book breathes fresh life into the Catholic calendar. Melissa and Anna share their traditions of keeping the Triduum and the Easter season and talk about how these practices have strengthened their families and their faith lives.

Mar 23, 2018

One national ministry has had massive success reaching out to college-age Catholics: the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, or FOCUS. Today on the show, Heidi Schlumpf and Kevin Ahern, assistant professor of religious studies at Manhattan College and the editor of the forthcoming “God’s Quad: Small faith communities on campus and beyond,” discuss FOCUS and its influence on American Catholic students.

Mar 16, 2018

NCR's Joshua McElwee and Michael Sean Winters talk about Pope Francis' leadership and the legacy of his papacy, five years in. 

Mar 9, 2018

NCR contributor Kelly Stewart and Episcopal priest Kira Schlesinger discuss Kira's book “Pro-Choice and Christian: Reconciling Faith, Politics and Justice.”  Later in the show, we share excerpts of stories told by Catholic sisters during Standup Sisters, an annual event held during National Catholic Sisters Week.

Mar 2, 2018

On Tuesday, hundreds gathered on Capitol Hill for a Catholic Day of Action for Dreamers where they spoke, prayed, and sang. NCR contributor Julie Bourbon talks about the event in Washington, D.C. and how it might create momentum for immigration reform.

Later, film critic Sr. Rose Pacatte shares her favorite films of the year and her predictions and hopes for the Academy Awards.

Feb 23, 2018

NCR books editor Jamie Manson talks about three upcoming books from prominent theologians: "The Unmoored God," by Paul Crowley, SJ; "Creation and the Cross" by Elizabeth Johnson and "Resurrecting Easter" by John Dominic Crossan.

Feb 16, 2018

Nancy Sylvester, founder and director of the Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue, talks today about contemplative reflection. She talks about why this practice is more important now than ever, and she’ll teach the setup for starting your own contemplative practice.

Feb 9, 2018

Chris Herlinger traveled to Haiti last year, where he met Sisters of St. John the Evangelist who run a shelter for children in danger of being trafficked. Chris also shares some updates from the United Nations, where Catholic sisters advocate for anti-trafficking laws and regulations.

Franciscan Sr. Sarah Kohles and St. Joseph Sr. Susan Francois are two of the 13 contributors to a new book written for young women contemplating vowed religious life. The book, In Our Own Words, was published Jan. 25 by Liturgical Press

Feb 2, 2018

Today on the show, Dr. Tim Uhl, the superintendent of Montana Catholic Schools and host of the podcast Catholic School Matters. We talk about how he started his podcast and what about Catholic education challenges and inspires Tim.

Jan 26, 2018

NCR contributor Julie Bourbon reports on a study of "nones" — that is, n-o-n-e-s, or young adults who don’t identify with any organized religion. Later, NCR Bertelsen intern Maria Benevento and Suzanne Gladney, founder of the Migrant Farmworkers Assistance Fund provide an update on immigration issues, including chain migration and the latest on the DACA debate and those living in the U.S. under Temporary Protected Status.

Jan 19, 2018

NCR staff writer Brian Roewe has been reporting on an excommunication case in Nebraska with a lot of history behind it. Last year, members of the Lincoln chapter of Call to Action met with Bishop James Conley in a series of dialogue sessions. These sessions have led to an agreement of sorts to have the 1996 censure lifted for individual members.

Jan 12, 2018

NCR’s Vatican correspondent Joshua McElwee talks about Pope Francis' upcoming trip to Chile and Peru. The papal trip takes place January 15-21, 2018. Joshua also recaps the pope’s recent State of the World address to diplomats. Later, sociologist Michele Dillon explains the trends in a new survey of American Catholics and talks about how the data show a refreshed enthusiasm among American Catholic women.

Jan 5, 2018

Retired priest Bill O'Malley shares some of his resolutions for 2018. Now 86, Fr. O'Malley draws on his decades of creativity and teaching experience to reflect on what the coming year may hold. 

Dec 29, 2017

Today, Sr. Linda Romey talks about how “bad theology” perpetuates gender inequality and the role that women religious play in this #MeToo moment. Later, NCR columnist Jamie Manson and film critic Sr. Rose Pacatte talk about the dangers of unchecked power in any system and what they envision happening next in Hollywood and the Catholic Church. 

Dec 22, 2017

In this episode, NCR columnist and blogger Tom Carney argues that the mystery of Christmas is drowned out by the commercial holiday. Tom talks about how to recapture the spiritual foundation of Christmas and how he celebrates the coming of Christ. Later, Soul Seeing editor Mike Leach talks about how the holiday has evolved for him with different seasons of life. He’ll also share recommendations for listeners looking for some extra Christmas hope this year. 

Dec 15, 2017

Global Sisters Report staff writer Dawn Araujo-Hawkins talks about how congregations of women religious are working to make amends for historically buying into a culture of racism. Later, NCR Bertelsen interns Maria Benevento and James Dearie provide updates on faith-based efforts to stem the tide of gun violence through initiatives like the Gun Violence Prevention Sabbath and a guide to non-violent holiday gifts for children.

Dec 8, 2017

Global Sisters Report international correspondent Chris Herlinger talks about reporting in difficult locations like South Sudan and how sisters and priests deal with trauma as they’re ministering to people also processing traumatic experiences. Later, Young Voices columnist Mike Jordan Laskey talks about this year’s short Advent calendar and how to make the most of this overlooked season of waiting and preparation. 

Dec 1, 2017

In this episode, NCR editor Dennis Coday stops by the studio to talk about recent news, including the pope's visit to Myanmar and Bangladesh, the extradition of a Salvadoran former colonel, and tax reform and sexual assault news in the U.S.

Nov 23, 2017

NCR contributor Melissa Musick Nussbaum speaks about liturgical traditions that remember the dead and how Catholics can start their own traditions to remember loved ones gone before them. Later, Fr. Chris DeGiovine shares his reflections on the month of November as a period of remembrance. He shares inspiration from Scripture and other Catholic thinkers as well as his thoughts as a pastor on the great mystery of life after death.

Nov 17, 2017

This week, Joshua McElwee, NCR Vatican correspondent, reports from a recent high-profile conference at the Vatican on nuclear disarmament. He’ll explain what Pope Francis said about nuclear weapons, and whether the world is listening to Catholic leaders. Later, NCR’s Michael Sean Winters and Heidi Schlumpf are back with a recap of the bishops meeting in Baltimore earlier this week. They talk about what election results mean for the future of US church leadership. The conversation also touches on some noteworthy action items from the meeting, including the vote to create a pastoral plan on marriage and family life. 

Nov 10, 2017

This week's episode starts with a segment from the Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. Nearly 2,000 Jesuit-educated high school and college students traveled to Washington, D.C. last week to attend social justice-oriented sessions and hear from keynote speakers including Fr. Bryan Massingale and Sr. Patricia Chappell. Students went to Capitol Hill on Monday to meet with legislators and advocate on behalf of the marginalized. Some of these students spoke to NCR about what brought them to the Teach-In and what they’re taking back to their schools.

Later, NCR national correspondent Heidi Schlumpf and columnist Michael Sean Winters talk about the upcoming meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. They explain what to expect from addresses and elections and give some background on the conference and its importance to US Catholic leadership.

Nov 3, 2017

In this episode, host Brittany Wilmes is joined by some NCR reporters who are looking at key political issues a year after the presidential election. Global Sisters Report staff writer Dawn Araujo-Hawkins talks about women becoming politically involved after the women’s march. NCR staff writer Brian Roewe and Bertelsen interns Maria Benevento and James Dearie talk about their reporting on the environment, immigration, and foreign policy.

Oct 28, 2017

This week, NCR Vatican correspondent Joshua J. McElwee talks about a recent public correction Pope Francis made to an article by Cardinal Robert Sarah. Later, Global Sisters Report national correspondent Dan Stockman talks about a treasure trove of newly available information: the vast results of a 1967 survey, answered by a majority of the country’s Catholic sisters in active ministry as they were grappling with Vatican II reform.

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