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Pontifications

Pontifications

January 1970 Archives

Obama’s abortion reduction packaging

posted by David Gibson

The debate over the President’s “common ground” approach is focusing on two aspects: reducing abortion by supporting pregnant women, and reducing unintended preganancies by promoting sex ed and contraception. With the package of legislation having been hashed over, the divide […]

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Year of St. Paul ends with revelations…

posted by David Gibson

First, Benedict XVI confirms that tests done on bone fragments from a tomb venerated as that of the Apostle–but often considered more legend than fact–belonged to a man who lived between the first and second century. “This seems to confirm the […]

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Obama’s new church: St. Elsewhere’s?

posted by David Gibson

Or St. Nowhere’s? In a report disputed by the White House, TIME’s Amy Sullivan writes that the much-anticipated decision on where the Obama’s would worship has been settled, and instead of joining a congregation in Washington, Obama will do like W. and […]

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Nixon on Catholics: “Split down the middle”

posted by David Gibson

And that was back in 1973! Another fascinating bit of transcription from recently-released tapes of conversations between Nixon and Billy Graham, this time focusing on Nixon’s take on Catholics of the day. At America magazine’s blog, Jim Martin has the […]

Michael Jackson…Pop theologian?

posted by David Gibson

Anthea Butler makes the case at ReligionDispatches: We loved the music, but the trash sold much more. Yet, for all of the crass tabloid fodder, Michael was his best when singing these hopeful songs that called listeners to become better […]

Michael Jackson’s faith

posted by David Gibson

The pop icon was raised a Jehovah’s Witness, but according to some accounts had been “disfellowshipped” for various infractions. Last fall it was reported that Jackson had become a Muslim and changed his name to Mikaeel: The 50-year-old singer, who has […]

Michael Jackson, tortured genius

posted by David Gibson

Sad life, sad death–great music. So much people are saying, but the music says it best. YouTube has a site dedicated to his videos here, and it’s interesting that the most popular ones are of a later vintage. Many are superb. […]

Farrah Fawcett, RIP

posted by David Gibson

The actress who began as everyone’s favorite pinup (mine, too–I’m of that vintage) has died after a long and public battle with cancer. Hers was a remarkable journey, really, from those blow-dry feathered hairdos to really superb acting roles to the latest […]

Sarah Palin: Last (wo)man standing?

posted by David Gibson

Now that the GOP hopefuls are flaming out, is Sarah the saviour? A new Pew poll shows Palin well ahead of Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich among Republicans, with 73 percent favoring her as opposed to 57 and 55 percent […]

GOP infidelity month: Gov. Mark Sanford

posted by David Gibson

From the “Department of What Was He Thinking?!” here comes South Carolina’s Republican governor and a GOP hopeful for president, admitting that his five-day off-the-radar escapade was to visit his Argentine lover–not to hike the Appalachian Trail, as aides said. Unbelievable. […]

Notre Dame’s fundraising: Thank you, Obama?

posted by David Gibson

As part of the protests over Barack Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame, one alum, David DiFranco, launched a website to get ND pres Father John Jenkins fired and to tally donations withheld from the university as a way of quantifying […]

Benedict XVI and Barack Obama

posted by David Gibson

Together again, for the first time, on July 10: VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI will welcome U.S. President Barack Obama to the Vatican July 10 for an audience scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. Obama will visit Italy […]

Was Nixon anti-abortion?

posted by David Gibson

Well, sort of. Newly released tapes show that in the wake of the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Tricky Dick worried that legalized abortion would lead to “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw abortion as “necessary” […]

Is Neda a martyr?

posted by David Gibson

The simplest answer to that question is “yes.” Neda Agha-Soltan died terribly and publicly while at a protest for freedom against a repressive regime. Her story has spun around the globe, drawing broad support and rallying the reform cause at […]

The Christian Right channels Obama

posted by David Gibson

First it was Focus on the Family’s new CEO saying he wanted to “see more families like Obama’s,” and now it is Ralph Reed invoking the President as a role model of sorts. Reed, the wunderkind behind the Christian Coalition […]

Banning burqas: France’s secular dogmatism

posted by David Gibson

French president Nicholas Sarkozy wants to ban burqas–the head-to-toe covering worn by some very conservative Muslim women. The burqa, he says, is a symbol of “enslavement,” adding: “I want to say solemnly that it will not be welcome on our territory.” […]

The Bishops according to Bill

posted by David Gibson

William Donohue, the outspoken head of the right-tilting Catholic League, has a neat thumbnail sketch of the politics of the bishops conference. It is contained in an email message he sent to USNews’ Dan Gilgoff, apropos of Dan’s post arguing […]

Was Pius XII a saint? More Jewish-Catholic tensions

posted by David Gibson

The canonization process for the wartime pontiff is an ongoing source of drama–and tension. The latest dust-up concerns remarks by Fr. Peter Gumpel, the Jesuit promoter for Pius’ cause for sainthood, who blamed Jewish pressure for the delay in the controversial pope’s […]

Happy Father’s Day! Here’s what you missed…

posted by David Gibson

No doubt you Dads got wonderful gifts and lots of love, but will any of you smell like a Holy Father? You could if the family had thought to buy Fred Hass’ private formula, The Pope’s Cologne, the recreation of […]

Promoting fatherhood: Obama’s family values

posted by David Gibson

If the new Focus on the Family CEO loved Obama’s family values a few days ago, how much more will he love him now that he’s pushing so strongly for responsible fathers? “When fathers are absent, when they abandon their […]

Ken Starr (hearts) Sonia Sotomayor

posted by David Gibson

From the WaPo, via dotCommonweal: Kenneth W. Starr – investigator of President Bill Clinton and longtime pillar of the conservative legal establishment – has endorsed President Obama’s choice for the Supreme Court. During a question-and-answer session after a speech Thursday […]

“Hell-raiser in a collar”

posted by David Gibson

That’s how this Plain-Dealer profile describes the Rev. Bob Begin, Cleveland’s “rebel priest,” who has grown savvier as he has grown older, but still with the same zeal on behalf of his flock. The story focuses on Begin’s campaign to fight Bishop […]

“We want to see more families like Barack Obama’s.”

posted by David Gibson

Who said it? Not Focus on the Family’s old lion of the religious right, but his successor as CEO, Jim Daly. (Pictured at right in a Denver Post photo.) As the Denver Post reports (via Dan Gilgoff at US News), Daly’s remarks […]

Pope to clergy: “After God, the priest is everything!”

posted by David Gibson

Benedict XVI, in his letter today proclaiming a “Year for Priests,” puts forth Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney–the Cure’ d’Ars–as the model, since this year is also the 150th anniversary of the death of that remarkable French pastor. On the other hand, centering the Year […]

Osservatore editor stands by Obama comments

posted by David Gibson

The editor of the Vatican daily has taken a lot of heat for his coverage of Barack Obama and his comments that Obama is “not a pro-abortion president.” In a lengthy Q-and-A with Delia Gallagher (a veteran Vatican hand, formerly […]

Notre Dame gets a pass from Bishops

posted by David Gibson

Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, a Chicago native and in line to be the next president of the U.S. bishops conference, foresees some informal discussions about the Notre Dame-Barack Obama invite flap, but nothing substantive or punitive. I suspect some side […]

The Bishops’ Dispirited Agenda

posted by David Gibson

That’s the title of an “On Faith” column by Tom Reese, the Jesuit political scientist cited in the post below on the bishops spring meeting in Texas. Father Reese’s take is that the bishops’ agenda “will keep it busy but […]

Bishops meet: Leadership from a flock of shepherds

posted by David Gibson

The U.S. hierarchy gathers for its spring meeting tomorrow, in San Antonio, in the wake of one of the most divisive and ugly stretches the Catholic Church has seen since, well, Joseph Bernardin was alive. And the bishops themselves have […]

Decommissioning Latin: Killing a dead language?

posted by David Gibson

Rome should switch from Latin to English, Thomas G. Casey, SJ, argues in this America essay, “Ave atque Vale.” Casey, an Irish Jesuit and professor of philosophy at the Gregorian University in Rome, notes that Italian is understandably the Vatican argot, but Latin […]

Iran: Revolution on?

posted by David Gibson

Watching history unfold is one of the great benefits of modern media. The Daily Dish has wall-to-wall updates, including links to neocons apparently pleased with Ahmadinejad’s “victory”–spare no effort to confirm one’s bias. The NYT is here with the latest on supreme […]

Sex selection comes to America

posted by David Gibson

The New York Times reports on apparent evidence of sex selection among Asian immigrants, a cultural holdover from their home countries: The trend is buried deep in United States census data: seemingly minute deviations in the proportion of boys and […]

Vatican employees: No rest for the…weary?

posted by David Gibson

Q: How many people work at the Vatican? A: About half of them. Ba-da-boom! Only that rimshot was reportedly delivered by Pope John XXIII himself. Though I’ve never found the citation, it is–as we say at the tabloids–too good to […]

Internal Vatican grudge match: Who you calling a relativist?

posted by David Gibson

The excommunications surrounding the abortion for a nine-year-old Brazilian girl who was raped and impregnated with twins by her stepfather continues to roil Rome. Back at the time, a top Vatican official, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Academy […]

Quote of the Day, Part II: “Serpentine secularism”

posted by David Gibson

Pope Benedict XVI has a way with words, but also sound bites (who knew?!), from “the dictatorship of relativism” slogan on the eve of the conclave to this formulation from his homily for the Feast of Corpus Christi: “Today there arises […]

Quote of the Day, Part I: The “responsible” white separatist

posted by David Gibson

“The responsible white separatist community condemns this. It makes us look bad.” –John de Nugent, an acquaintance of James W. von Brunn, who opened fire at the Holocaust Museum. Via Steve Waldman via The WaPo. PS: De Nugent also called […]

Carrie Prejean, Miss California slacker?

posted by David Gibson

Donald Trump has fired her for not fulfilling her duties. How tough is a beauty queen’s job? “This was a decision based solely on contract violations,” Keith Lewis, the executive director of Miss California USA said in a statement, citing […]

Who speaks for the GOP?

posted by David Gibson

Rush and Dick and Newt are in a dead heat. No Dubya, no Sarah. Is that good or bad news? Read the USA Today/Gallup survey for more details: Gingrich as the standard-bearer of the Republican religious bloc? He just became […]

SF Catholics facing a Holocaust?

posted by David Gibson

The write-up is from CWNews, via the San Francisco Chronicle: A week after the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the constitutionality of a 2006 San Francisco Board of Supervisors resolution “urging Cardinal William Levada, in his capacity as […]

Tiller’s clinic to be anti-abortion museum?

posted by David Gibson

From the NYT: Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, said on Wednesday that his group, which had long fought to close the clinic, was considering trying to buy the squat, beige building to perhaps turn it into a memorial […]

More right-wing violence: Holocaust Museum shooting

posted by David Gibson

An 88-year-old man, James W. von Brunn, who is apparently known as a white supremacist, shot a security guard at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington this afternoon–near the Smithsonian and across the Mall from the White House. The Washington Post has […]

Obama Catholic official: TOO pro-life

posted by David Gibson

That is the judgment of Frances Kissling, she of Catholics for a Free Choice, now rebaptized Catholics for Choice, on the appointment of Alexia Kelley as Director of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services. Kelley […]

A Catholic judge’s response

posted by David Gibson

Re the post below on the “problem” with Catholic justices on the Supreme Court…Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal points to a response that Judge John T. Noonan (who gave the Laetare “address” at Notre Dame) provided when he was petitioned to […]

Historian’s verdict: Catholic justices can’t be trusted

posted by David Gibson

That headline is perhaps too blunt a summation of an argument by the UCLA professor emerita of history, Joyce Appleby–but not by much. In a column in the Tallahassee Democrat, Appleby argues that Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination raises concerns because six of nine Supreme Court […]

Tiller abortion clinic closing permanently

posted by David Gibson

That’s the story from Tiller’s family, via the laywers. So can the argument be made that suspected killer Scott Roeder’s act was effective and perhaps justifiable? The pro-life movement is worried: Even some abortion opponents, who had long devoted their efforts to […]

Barack Obama: Prophet of our civil religion

posted by David Gibson

And he’s channeling Abraham Lincoln. At least that’s my angle, in a piece at PoliticsDaily titled, “The Gospel According to Barack.” Secularists worry that Obama has imbibed Bush’s faith-based Kool-Aid, conservatives rail that he’s (again) exalting himself as a false […]

Douthat’s abortion distinctions

posted by David Gibson

Ross Douthat’s column in today’s Times, “Not all abortions are equal,” goes where other Catholic pro-lifers often do not: In arguing that law and policy must make distinctions on abortions, as people do. “The argument for unregulated abortion rests on the […]

iMessiah 3.0: The Third Coming

posted by David Gibson

Can you take still more sensuality and spirituality from the blog? The third generation of the iPhone is indeed here. The adepts at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco have seen the revelation: The new iPhone 3GS goes on sale […]

Eastern erotica for a Monday morning…

posted by David Gibson

Apropos of my earlier post on the death of David Carradine in somewhat ambiguous circumstances in Bangkok comes today’s NYT book review: It is on “The East, the West, and Sex: A history of Erotic Encounters” by Richard Bernstein, a fine […]

A pastor’s lesson in dying, and living

posted by David Gibson

“I’m not busy dying. I’m living better.” That’s one of several moving takeaways from Michael Paulson’s story in The Boston Globe–and brief video below–about Father James A. Field, a parish priest who is dying of pancreatic cancer. Everything about him speaks […]

Scott Roeder and Osama bin Laden…

posted by David Gibson

The abortion doc killer and the 9/11 “mastermind”…More strange pairings? Maybe not. Bin Laden has been stuck in a cave in Waziristan or thereabouts for a few years, sending out audiotapes of threats periodically when he feels he needs attention–such […]

David Carradine and Thomas Merton…

posted by David Gibson

Both were well-known Westerners associated with Eastern spiritual traditions, both died accidentally in their rooms in Bangkok. That, it appears from news reports, is where the similarity ends, sadly: BANGKOK, June 5 — Thai police officers investigating the death of David […]

Vatican steps back on Obama love?

posted by David Gibson

Concerns that the Vatican seems to like President Obama a lot more than the U.S. hierarchy seem to be behind a rowback of sorts as L’Osservatore Romano. As RNS’s Francis X. Rocca reports: VATICAN CITY (RNS) The official Vatican newspaper emphatically […]

Activist: Tiller killing “biblically justified”

posted by David Gibson

So says the publisher of Prayer and Action News, an anti-abortion newsletter and Web site that slay suspect Scott Roder liked. Dave Leach tells the Des Moines Register that Tiller’s murder could be biblically justified as a way to prevent what he […]

Be (gay) afraid (gay). Be (gay) very (gay) afraid (gay)…

posted by David Gibson

Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council is keeping count: “If, as the saying goes, people are policy, then we have no doubt where this White House stands. At last count, the Obama administration employed 36 open homosexuals.” As opposed […]

Saint Francis and Obama

posted by David Gibson

And the connection? Islamic Cairo, 800 years ago. My colleague Paul Moses, a religion writer and journalism professor, is set to publish a book about Francis of Assisi’s encounter with the sultan of Egypt, Malik al-Kamil, during the Fifth Crusade […]

Radicalizing pro-lifers: The line from “Roe” to Randall Terry

posted by David Gibson

Why is anti-abortion violence spiking–with George Tiller’s death at the hands of alleged shooter Scott Roeder just the latest and most high-profile episode? Jon A. Shields, an assistant professor of government at Claremont McKenna College and author of an intriguing […]

Tiller’s killing: Necessary…but unlawful?

posted by David Gibson

In a commentary today, First Things editor and Creighton theologian R.R. Reno parses the justifications for killing an abortion doctor like George Tiller, and finds that alleged murderer Scott Roeder came up short–though barely. Reno says that “The blanket condemnation [by […]

Benedict’s kiddie kaffeeklatsch

posted by David Gibson

The pope meets with children every year about this time, taking a few questions and providing rare–and affecting–personal insights that he doesn’t offer up elsewhere. Last Saturday he met with 7,000 children from the Holy Childhood Association, which is affiliated with […]

Will Obama resurrect the Catholic left?

posted by David Gibson

“Liberal Catholicism is an exhausted project,” Chicago Cardinal Francis George famously said more than a decade ago. As noted earlier, the eminent church historian John O’Malley argues that Barack Obama could be reviving the “spirit of Vatican II” that is associated with a “progressive” Catholicism […]

Scott Roeder’s mystery religion

posted by David Gibson

That Scott Roeder is mentally unstable, a devotee of right-wing, anti-government extremism, and a fierce opponent of abortion seem to be a few of the hard facts  we have on him. But the suspect in the killing of Kansas abortion doctor […]

Obama and the spirit of Vatican II

posted by David Gibson

There have been several efforts to tease out connections between Barack Obama and Catholicism–not surprising given many clear affinities, if clearly not a wholesale overlap. Some have been more adept than others. John O’Malley, the Jesuit historian of the church whose […]

“You cannot prevent killing by killing.”

posted by David Gibson

“If anyone has an urge to kill someone at an abortion clinic, they should shoot me. … It’s madness. It discredits the right-to-life movement. Murder is murder. It’s madness. You cannot prevent killing by killing.” – John Cardinal O’Connor. It’s […]

George Tiller: Portrait of a…serial killer?

posted by David Gibson

You fill in the blanks. And many are, with varying answers. Here’s Bill Donohue’s take: “The Catholic League unequivocally condemns the killing of serial killer, Dr. George Tiller.” Okay…Donohue goes on to condemn what he sees as the “politicization” of […]

Scott Roeder: Portrait of a zealot

posted by David Gibson

Anti-abortion and anti-government, Scott Roeder appears to be a bomb with a short fuse. The Wichita Eagle has the best profile up so far: The suspect in custody in connection with the slaying of abortion doctor George Tiller was a […]

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Calvin at 500, Calvinism 2.0
If you thought you knew John Calvin--who turned 500 last week--you probably don't know enough. For example, that he was French, born Jean Cauvin. And if he was in fact scandalized by dancing, he was also a lot more complex than that. I explored ...

posted 11:53:35am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

Apologia pro vita sua...Kinda
 In my defense, I've had computer outages and family reunions and a few days of single-parenthood, which is always a bracing reminder of what many parents go through all the time. And this weekend it's off for a week's vacation. Anyway, ...

posted 10:51:36am Jul. 16, 2009 | read full post »

When Benny met Barry: "I'll pray for you!"
The first word via Vatican Radio and first image (that I saw) via Rocco: Speaking to Vatican Radio, Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi said "moral values in international politics, immigration and the Catholic Church's ...

posted 12:54:28pm Jul. 10, 2009 | read full post »

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