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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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.

Oct 20, 2017

In this episode, NCR books editor Jamie Manson, feminist theologian Mary Hunt, and Dignity USA executive director Marianne Duddy-Burke talk about what LGBTQI Catholics need from the church, where they see an embrace of the gender and sexuality spectrums and what gives them hope.

Oct 13, 2017

NCR Bertelsen intern James Dearie makes his podcast debut to talk about the winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize. Later, NCR correspondents Josh McElwee and Heidi Schlumpf talk about what they're reporting on and who they're watching in the U.S. and abroad.

Oct 6, 2017

In this episode, NCR contributor Julie Bourbon explains kriya yoga and the Assisi Institute's inaugural kriya yoga conference. Devotees and teachers say that practicing this form of meditation can bring one into deeper relationship with God. Then, a conversation with theologian Deanna Thompson on her book “The Virtual Body of Christ in a Suffering World.” Deanna talks about how a journey through illness led her to embrace her digital connections as a vital example of the body of Christ.

Sep 29, 2017

NCR's Tom Roberts and David Gibson of Fordham University discuss an unsettling pattern of Catholic writers and scholars being disinvited from speaking engagements and adjunct positions due to intimidation from far-right Catholic groups.

Sep 22, 2017

In this episode, former NCR editor and publisher Tom Fox discusses Ken Burns' documentary series "The Vietnam War." Tom attended a screening of the series in Kansas City where Ken Burns and Lynn Novick spoke, as well as John Musgrave, a veteran prominently featured in the series. Tom also talks about his time serving as a civil volunteer in Vietnam during the war and the lessons he learned there.

Sep 15, 2017

Pope Francis on September 9 released Magnum Principium, a document announcing new canon law for liturgical translations. Msgr. Rick Hilgartner, former executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Office for Divine Worship, talks about what this means for the church. Later, NCR editor Dennis Coday and Celebration editor Denise Simeone discuss the historical perspective on liturgical changes and the importance of language in Catholic prayers.

Sep 8, 2017

NCR intern Maria Benevento discusses her recent article on Catholic peacebuilders and their ideas to bring stability to Afghanistan in the wake of the Trump administration’s announcement to drastically change U.S. strategy in the conflicted country. Later, Fr. Roy Donovan with the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland talks about his statement asking the Irish bishops to put a hold on the permanent diaconate until Pope Francis makes a decision on allowing women deacons.

Sep 1, 2017

NCR contributor Jonathan Luxmoore breaks down Cardinal Pietro Parolin’s visit to Russia. Michael Sean Winters explains what to look for as Congress resumes session on Tuesday. Global Sisters Report national correspondent Dan Stockman shares updates from sisters in the Houston area and how they’re reaching out to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.

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