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Pontifications

Pontifications

Bio

DAVID GIBSON is an award-winning religion journalist, author, filmmaker, and a convert to Catholicism. He came by all those vocations by accident, or Providence, during a longer-than-expected sojourn in Rome in the 1980s.



Gibson began his journalistic career as a walk-on sports editor and columnist at The International Courier, a small daily in Rome serving Italy's English-language community. He then found a job as a newscaster and writer across the Tiber at the English Programme at Vatican Radio, an entity he describes as a cross between NPR and Armed Forces Radio for the pope. The Jesuits who ran the radio were charitable enough to hire Gibson even though he had no radio background, could not pronounce the name "Karol Wojtyla," and wasn't Catholic. Time and experience overcame all those challenges, and Gibson went on to cover dozens of John Paul II's overseas trips, including papal visits to Africa, Europe, Latin America and the United States.



When Gibson returned to the United States in 1990 he returned to print journalism to cover the religion beat in his native New Jersey for two dailies. He worked first for The Record of Hackensack, and then for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey, winning the nation's top awards in religion writing at both places. In 1999 he won the Supple Religion Writer of the Year contest, and in 2000 he was chosen as the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year. Gibson is a longtime board member of the Religion Newswriters Association and he is a contributor to ReligionLink, a service of the Religion Newswriters Foundation.



Since 2003, David Gibson has been an independent writer specializing in Catholicism, religion in contemporary America, and early Christian history. His work has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Boston Magazine, Commonweal, America, The New York Observer, Beliefnet and Religion News Service. He has produced documentaries on early Christianity for CNN and other networks and has traveled on assignment to dozens of countries, with an emphasis on reporting from Europe and the Middle East. He is a frequent television commentator and has appeared on the major cable and broadcast networks. He is also a regular speaker at conferences and seminars on Catholicism, religion in America, and journalism.



Gibson's first book, The Coming Catholic Church: How the Faithful are Shaping a New American Catholicism (HarperSanFrancisco), was published in 2003 and deals with the church-wide crisis revealed by the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The book was widely hailed as a "powerful" and "first-rate" treatment of the crisis from "an academically informed journalist of the highest caliber."



His second book, The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and His Battle with the Modern World (HarperSanFrancisco), came out in 2006 and is the first full-scale treatment of the Ratzinger papacy--how it happened, who he is, and what it means for the Catholic Church. The Rule of Benedict has been praised as "an exceptionally interesting and illuminating book" from "a master storyeller."



Born and raised in New Jersey, David Gibson studied European history at Furman University in South Carolina and spent a year working on Capitol Hill before moving to Italy. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter and is working on a book about conversion, and on several film and television projects.

The Templars and the Shroud?

posted by David Gibson

No, this isn’t a “Da Vinci Code” post about the upcoming “Angels & Demons” schlockfest. Seriously, it seems the Templars–the Forrest Gumps of history and conspiracy theories–were custodians of the Shroud of Turin centuries back. Secretly, of course. CNS has […]

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Is Easter pagan? Or was it?

posted by David Gibson

The subhead of this informative Christian History essay says it all: “The historical evidence contradicts this popular notion.” But it’s worth reading the whole thing should you be called on to give reasons for your beliefs, which has been known […]

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Wait till next year? Nah. Play ball!

posted by David Gibson

So maybe God isn’t a Catholic–or maybe she is, but felt Catholics could use a lesson in humility (another one?!) and thus Villanova had to lose, badly, in the Final Four and North Carolina had to continue its dynastic ways […]

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“Only loss is universal…”

posted by David Gibson

The full quotation, from a NYT op-ed this morning about the great Italian novelist Ignazio Silone and his experience of a devastating 1915 earthquake like that which struck the Abruzzo yesterday, runs: “Only loss is universal, and true cosmopolitanism in this […]

Another kind of Passion…

posted by David Gibson

The toll in the earthquake that struck the beautiful Abruzzo region of Italy is nearing 100, with another 1,500 injured and 40,000-50,000 homeless. NYT report here… The epicenter was in L’Aquila, a picturesque Medieval fortress hill town, where most of the […]

Illuminations of Faith

posted by David Gibson

Also via dotCommonweal, two posts from Father Joseph Komonchak, a church historian at Catholic University of America and a man with a keen eye and pen: The first regards an article in the Washington Post on an exhibit at the National […]

Packed pews on Palm Sunday But who are those people?

posted by David Gibson

That’s the question Peggy Steinfels posed in a post-Passion Sunday post over at dotCommonweal. She was casting about for fellow curmudgeons, but found surprisingly few despite her set-up: Every year I forget that half the church is full of people […]

The Vatican and Notre Dame

posted by David Gibson

What has Rome said about the Notre Dame controversy over the Obama invitation? Nothing. And that’s the useful point that CNS’s Vatican buro chief, John Thavis, makes in this blog commentary. There’s been no Vatican statement, and the Vatican newspaper […]

Notre Dame solution: Rename the University!

posted by David Gibson

And Bishop Thomas G. Doran of the Diocese of Rockford, Ill., has a couple of suggestions in the letter of protest he sent to Fr. Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. After expressing his outrage (old hat by now), Bishop Doran […]

“Blessed” John Paul? Not yet. But patience…

posted by David Gibson

On this, the fourth anniverary of the death of Pope John Paul II, a time that brought millions into the streets of Rome chanting “Santo subito!“, the beatification process is moving, but not as quickly as some might hope. Benedict […]

Apostasy afoot on Quebec

posted by David Gibson

Some would say this has been happening for a while in the once thoroughly Catholic province, but a few recent stories out of the Vatican seem to have pushed some Catholic Quebecois over the edge and into formally disavowing the […]

Playmobil Passion? Nein!

posted by David Gibson

So get this: An evangelical pastor in Germany does a little “customizing” of some of those popular Playmobil toy figures to make Bible scenes–including a Passion–and the company wants to shut him down. Unfair? Or unfair use? The National Post […]

Barack Obama: Our first Muslim president?

posted by David Gibson

That’s the positive spin one could put on a new survey from the Pew Forum which shows that 11 percent of Americans still believe Obama (who is a professed and profesing Christian) is a Muslim. That’s almost unchanged from last […]

Speaking of March Madness…

posted by David Gibson

Here is a moving story about the storybook Villanova guard, Scottie Reynolds. The unbelievable story of Scottie Reynolds begins some years ago with a decision made by a young and scared teenage woman. She was from Alabama and pregnant with […]

March Madness? Follia di Marzo? April Fools’?

posted by David Gibson

Actually, a blog post from CNS previewing the first volleyball rally ever to be played in St. Peter’s Square. Three hundred kids aged eight to 11 were to play on 16 makeshift courts in the square between 8:30 and 10 a.m., […]

iFaith…Yes, an Archdiocesan iPhone app…

posted by David Gibson

It’s an iPhone application from the Archdiocese of New Orleans. From the release: Want to know what’s going on in the Archdiocese of New Orleans? Fire up iFaith and tap “latest news” to read all of the latest Archdiocesan news […]

Notre Dame outrage update: Cardinal George, Archbp Quinn, et al

posted by David Gibson

America magazine, as promised, has the official, redacted version of Fr. Cleary’s letter to President Obama here. It is much more successful, I think, largely thanks to editing. Better still, from my point of view, FWIW, is a commentary on the […]

Holy Cross head writes to Obama re Notre Dame

posted by David Gibson

When I first saw the text of the 13-page letter from U.S. Father Hugh W. Cleary, Holy Cross superior general in Rome, to President Obama, regarding Obama’s scheduled commencement address at Notre Dame, I couldn’t make heads or tails of it. It […]

Full text of Holy Cross head’s letter to Obama

posted by David Gibson

Here is the full text of the 13-page letter (click at the end of this page for the rest) to President Obama from the Rev. Hugh W. Cleary, C.S.C. Superior General of the Congregation of Holy Cross, which oversees Notre […]

No “Capitol punishment” on communion

posted by David Gibson

There have been a growing number of reports that Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann has asked Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington (and Bishop Paul Loverde of nearby Arlington, Va) to bar former Kansas governor and future Health and Human Services chief Kathleen Sebelius […]

The pope on condoms: What he could have said…

posted by David Gibson

And it’s already been said, quite well, by the U.S. bishops, in their 1987 statement “The Many Faces of AIDS.” Father Tom Reese points to it in his post at “On Faith,” when he writes: “After clearly stating that the […]

Pope: Investigate the Legionaries of Christ

posted by David Gibson

The Vatican has officially launched an investigation of the Legionaries of Christ, the controversial, scandal-ridden order whose late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, was last year found to have fathered a child out of wedlock. He is also suspected of […]

Equal opportunity bishops: RNC’s Steele is boycotted

posted by David Gibson

Michael Steele, the ostensibly pro-life Catholic and, also ostensibly, the new hope of the GOP–though that’s dimmed considerably since he won election as head of the RNC–is being boycotted by Bishop Gerald Gettelfinger of Evansville, Indiana. Steele is to be the keynoter at the local […]

“Who painted it?”

posted by David Gibson

Hillary’s first major gaffe as Secretary of State! It’s not fair, but this is a blog. And the icon of Our Lady of Guadalupe is one of the most famous miracles in the church, the pride of Mexico (and beyond) and […]

Catholics skew liberal–even the churchgoers

posted by David Gibson

That’s the upshot of a Gallup Poll analysis just released here hooked to Obama’s upcoming Notre Dame commencement address. On the “moral acceptability” of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, Catholics mirror the wider populations, with 4 in 10 saying abortion can […]

Ayres and Obama, together again…sort of.

posted by David Gibson

The former Weather Underground activist/terrorist/educator/paller-around was invited by a student groups to speak at Boston College–but the event was canceled, as The Globe reports. At First Things, they see irony–in their inimitable way (and really, don’t try to imitate it)–as […]

Really early warning on abusers: “Even an island is too good for these vipers”

posted by David Gibson

That is just one of the remarkable and poignant quotations from Tom Roberts’ new story at NCR on a old topic–clerical sexual abuse–and an even older warning, from back in the 1950s. In correspondence Roberts dug up between Fr. Gerald […]

Three saints of the day: Climacus, Rahner, Bowman

posted by David Gibson

Or would-be saints, perhaps “will-be” saints, in the case of Karl Rahner, who died 25 years ago today, and Sr. Thea Bowman, the African-American Franciscan, who helped to found the Institute of Black Catholic Studies at Xavier University in New Orleans. […]

Villanova beats Duke: There is a God…

posted by David Gibson

And he is obviously Catholic. But the proof of her existence will come tonight if Gonzaga beats North Carolina. Read it and weep. Brackets here…

Superstition and Religion: My take at the WSJ

posted by David Gibson

From today’s “Houses of Worship” column, which is titled “Is One Man’s Faith Another’s Superstition?” I try to explore the difference between religion and superstition, or witchcraft, an issue that the pope raised in Angola last week. An excerpt: The […]

“Ressourcement” or “Aggiornamento”? A final note on condoms

posted by David Gibson

Well, let’s hope it’s final. Just as a bit of housekeeping, it seems that after editing and changing some of Pope Benedict’s comments on condoms when he was in Africa–and prompting an uproar–the official text is back to what the pope […]

A shout-out for “Shouts in the Piazza”

posted by David Gibson

Many of you know Rocco Palmo’s “Whispers in the Loggia.” Well now you can visit Fr. Guy Selvester’s “Shouts in the Piazza,” which he has resucitated by popular demand. Father Guy in a parish priest in my native New Jersey […]

The Archbishop regrets…

posted by David Gibson

“Never mind.” That seems to be Archbishop Burke’s take on his explosive interview with Randall Terry of Operation Rescue in which he took Obama voters and his brother bishops in the U.S. to task for being softies. Rocco has the […]

Phoenix Bishop says Notre Dame prez “disobedient”

posted by David Gibson

A remarkable development in the Obama-to-Notre Dame saga, via Thomas Peters, the “American Papist”: Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has sent Fr. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, an email saying his invitation to Obama to speak at the May 17 […]

Archbishop Burke to Terry: Be liberal in denying communion

posted by David Gibson

That’s the thrust of Archbishop Raymond Burke’s message to Operation Rescue’s Randall Terry, who released video of his interview this week. Terry, who is leading one of the more eye-popping campaigns against Obama’s Notre Dame appearance, had promised “candor and clarity” […]

Notre Dame’s exit strategy: Invite Gingrich instead

posted by David Gibson

Hey, the former House Speaker, pro-death-penalty, thrice-married, GOP comeback kid is making it official and becoming a Catholic this Saturday at St. Joseph’s Church, the venerable Capitol Hill parish. The WaPo’s Chris Cillizza has The Fix. Media Matters details Gingrich’s […]

Terrible beauty

posted by David Gibson

I saw this photo while flipping through The Times this morning, and at first I thought it might be a new installation by the artist Richard Serra. Instead, it is an image, beautiful yet terrible, of a recently completed section […]

Obama’s stem cell qualifiers…clarifying?

posted by David Gibson

In his press conference last night President Obama took a question from The Washington Times’ John Ward about his controversial stem cell decision last month–an announcement that left me, and many others, rather cold. Obama’s response was intriguing in that he […]

Bishop D’Arcy to boycott Obama at Notre Dame

posted by David Gibson

Bishop John M. D’Arcy of the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, which includes Notre Dame, has released a statement on the university’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the main commencement address and receieve an honorary degree on May 17. (Full […]

Text of Bishop D’Arcy’s statement on Obama at Notre Dame

posted by David Gibson

Here is the text of Bishop John M. D’Arcy’s has released a statement on Notre Dame’s invitation to President Obama to deliver the main commencement address and receive an honorary degree on May 17: Concerning President Barack Obama speaking at Notre Dame graduation, […]

The turtle [tortoise] stays in Africa

posted by David Gibson

But I think they finessed it pretty well. John Thavis has a blog post, and auto-corrects that it is a “tortoise” not a turtle. If you don’t know the difference, you are probably not interested in this story anyway. At […]

Notre Dame and Obama: Of Absurdities and Ayatollahs

posted by David Gibson

Father Tom Reese, SJ, a well-known commentator and savvy political scientist of the church, makes the pointed point that objecting to the Obama invite on the grounds that it violates the bishops’ document “Catholics in Political Life” is “absurd. He […]

“Casting the first stone”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the title of the latest column by Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, in which he laments the polarized state of discourse in the Church–and begins to sketch a remedy by using an effective illustration: At a recent clergy gathering, the principal celebrant […]

Notre Dame students (heart) Obama

posted by David Gibson

While the CNS (Cardinal Newman Society, not Catholic News Service) starts a petition against Obama delivering the commencement address at Notre Dame in May, and while commenters at this blog and elsewhere vent that this is the end of support […]

Religion or Superstition?

posted by David Gibson

In his homily Saturday in Luanda, the pope confronted the delicate question of superstition in African culture: Today it is up to you, brothers and sisters, following in the footsteps of those heroic and holy heralds of God, to offer […]

Obama to give commencement address at Notre Dame

posted by David Gibson

This should get the Irish fighting, along with lots of other Catholics. Or am I wrong? Via The South Bend Tribune: Obama will be the principal speaker and the recipient of an honorary doctor of laws degree at the university’s […]

Benedict connects with Africa

posted by David Gibson

That seems to be the upshot of coverage. Having dispensed with condoms, he has spoken strongly and movingly about the great social problems facing the continent, and the specific countries he has visited–first Cameroon and now Angola. NCR’s John Allen […]

He got a turtle!

posted by David Gibson

The pope gets treated, well, like a pope. A group of Pygmies showed up as Benedict XVI was leaving Cameroon in an unscheduled visit with an unexpected gift: a live turtle to take back to the Vatican. John Thavis of CNS reports: The […]

Brazil church officials defend approach to child rape victim

posted by David Gibson

The excommunications surrounding the abortion resulting from the case of a 9-year-old girl raped by her abusive stepfather and impregnated with twins were correct and the pastoral care of the child caring and sensitive…And the Vatican official who publicly criticized […]

Pope in U.S. dominated religion coverage in 2008

posted by David Gibson

Nothing else was close. Benedict’s April visit to the U.S. took up 37 percent of the religion newshole, while religion stories from the campaign accounted for 21 percent, according to an analysis of the mainstream media in 2008 conducted by […]

The Feast of St. Joseph

posted by David Gibson

As noted before, I’ve developed a great affection for St. Joseph, whose feast day is today. It is also, of course, Joseph Ratzinger’s name day (or onomastico, in Italian), and Benedict XVI, as we now call him, took note of that […]

Natasha Richardson dies at 45

posted by David Gibson

It had seemed inevitable for some hours, but still terrible now that it is confirmed. The New York Times coverage is here, the WaPo here. Prayers for Liam Neeson and their two sons and the family.

UDATE on pope-condom comments

posted by David Gibson

THURSDAY UPDATE: John Thavis has a good look at the whole Vatican “redaction temptation” issue as regards the pope’s “official” comments.  It’s called, “There they go again…” PREVIOUS ENTRY BEGINS HERE: As the pushback against the pope’s statements about condoms worsening the spread of […]

Benedict in Cameroon, Day 1: Pope Leo?

posted by David Gibson

Not to worry–unlike the feisty cub the pope sported with in the Vatican last month, this one at right (AP foto via Rocco) isn’t going to hurt a bit. Such are the marvelous incongruities of a papal visit to a […]

An evangelical supporter’s disappointment in Obama

posted by David Gibson

David P. Gushee, a well-known and widely-respected ethicist and evangelical voice who supported Barack Obama, expresses what sounds like some buyer’s remorse in a March 16 column at USA Today titled, “Mr. President, we need more than lip service”: “I […]

Study: Believers fight death to the last

posted by David Gibson

But is it fear or faith that makes them do it? A new study from The Journal of the American Medical Association does not go into the motivations, but its findings are drawing notice: As The Times account has it: Terminally ill […]

The Irish according to The Simpsons…

posted by David Gibson

“It always comes down to transubstantiation versus consubstantiation.” Leave it to Lisa to sum it all up. Last one for the day. Couldn’t stop myself. Tip to the Dish. Erin Go Bragh!  

Pope and condoms: The Full Monty

posted by David Gibson

As usual, CNS’s John Thavis has the fullest and best account in this analysis: YAOUNDE, Cameroon (CNS) — Pope Benedict XVI’s declaration that distribution of condoms only increases the problem of AIDS is the latest and one of the strongest […]

Natasha Richardson injured skiing, and rumors abound

posted by David Gibson

 Actress Natasha Richardson apparently suffered some sort of head injury while skiing north of Montreal, but after dire reports that she was in critical condition or worse, it seems she’s now taken a plane back to New York with her […]

The Cardinal blasts, then meets, the President

posted by David Gibson

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, leader of the U.S. bishops conference, yesterday warned that Obama’s move to lift a last-minute Bush “conscience clause” regulation for health-care workers would be “the first step in moving our country from democracy to despotism.”   […]

Was the Pope right about condoms and AIDS?

posted by David Gibson

Following up on the previous post about Benedict saying condom distribution aggravated the AIDS epidemic, here are a few references: Richard Owen’s Times of London report on Benedict’s comments today note that when a Vatican official made similar claims a […]

Pope: Condoms make AIDS epidemic worse

posted by David Gibson

During the in-flight newser to Cameroon for his first African trip, Benedict XVI responded to six questions, one regarding the urgent issue of AIDS in Africa. His response, via CNS: “One cannot overcome the problem with the distribution of condoms. […]

Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day–without a hangover!

posted by David Gibson

At BustedHalo, Mike Hayes–son of Irish immigrants, he knows from Irish, tells you how, with five ideas. Before anything, of course, avoid green beer. But who would drink that anyway? You’d be sure to wind up driving the porcelain bus like the […]

St. Patrick: Did he exist? What did he look like? Does it matter?

posted by David Gibson

At America magazine, author Jon M. Sweeney examines what we know of the Saint’s life, and what is fanciful–but perhaps just as important. Both the hard facts and the fanciful legends about Patrick have the power to fascinate and instruct; […]

Christine Quinn: Not Irish enough–or too gay?

posted by David Gibson

The speaker of the New York City Council, a pretty powerful and savvy lass, is also about as Irish as they come. But she’s openly gay, too. Which means she can’t march in New York’s annual March 17 Eire-extravaganza up Fifth Avenue […]

More excommunications miscommunication

posted by David Gibson

Another coda to the terrible story of the 9-year-old girl in Brazil whose serially abusive stepfather impregnated her with twins, leading her mother to take her for an abortion on the advice of doctors who said her life was at […]

Rock and a hard place: Pope says laity can’t fill priest vacuum

posted by David Gibson

Benedict XVI today announced a “Year for Priests”– a fine idea, though one that apparently also comes with a tough message for lay people dealing with a shortage of priests, and the Eucharist. First, the announcement. According to the Vatican […]

“Cheney Asserts Obama Has Raised Security Risks”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the headline on the Times story regarding Cheney’s remarks on CNN on Sunday. Former Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that President Obama had made the country less safe, asserting that the new administration’s changes to detention and interrogation programs […]

SSPX leader (heart) Pope Benedict

posted by David Gibson

I may not have loved the pope’s letter explaining his views and action regarding the SSPX controversy (as many have noted here) but the SSPX gave it two thumbs-up. Via Zenit.org, here is the full text of the statement from the superior-general […]

Stem cell decision: “People need a fairy tale.”

posted by David Gibson

That is one quote that Peter Steinfels cites in his excellent column today, “In Stem Cell Debate, Moral Suasion Comes Up Short,” about Obama’s stem cell decision. (My critique here). A taste of Peter’s focus: The more challenging objection — again, not […]

The conservative future…?

posted by David Gibson

The second story from the Sunday Styles is “Little Mr. Conservative,” about 14-year-old Jonathan Krohn–the hot-ticket on the conservative circuit after his thrilling three-minute performance at the Conservative Political Action Conference. Bigger than Rush? Jonathan, a slight, home-schooled only child […]

The liberal past…?

posted by David Gibson

The “Sunday Styles” section of the NYT had two stories out front, which present stark contrasts, both unsettling. One is “Where to pass the torch?” about 70s-era abortion rights activists seeing the ambivalence or indifference of the younger generation of women, […]

The “invisible hand” of market-based morality

posted by David Gibson

Newt Gingrich wants to pay pregnant teenagers to take prenatal vitamins and stay healthy so the government avoids expensive costs when babies end up in neonatal intensive care units.He also wants to pay poor children to read, and says the […]

Vatican spokesman on the SSPX letter

posted by David Gibson

Here is the official account of the statement by Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, that accompanied the pope’s letter of explanation on his remittance of the excommunications of the SSPX bishops: FR. LOMBARDI: POPE FEELS HIS RESPONSIBILITY AS PASTOR […]

Michael Steele, RNC chair–and pro-choice Catholic?

posted by David Gibson

GOP chairman Michael Steele has had his share of woes in the weeks since he was elected with the aim of re-making the party. He bowed down to Rush, got skewered by Comedy Central (and has yet to show up […]

New NYT op-ed columnist: Young, Catholic, and really smart

posted by David Gibson

He’s Ross Douthat, erstwhile Atlantic editor and blogger and a serious upgrade from William Kristol, who started badly–not entirely unexpectedly–and went down from there during his year-long stint, which ended–not entirely unexpectedly–a couple months back. I’d hoped that Douthat would get […]

Cardinal Egan on celibacy: “A perfectly legitimate discussion.”

posted by David Gibson

New York’s Cardinal Edward Egan a closet liberal? Who knew?! Well, he’s out now. In a 30-minute interview with a NY radio show–part of Egan’s valedictory tour as he prepares to leave office–His Eminence did indeed say that celibacy is “a […]

Pope on the defensive…and it’s not pretty

posted by David Gibson

Benedict XVI’s letter to the world’s bishops (official text released today) was a good idea and probably inevitable, as no one was happy and the furor was not going away, inside the church from the highest echelons to the lowest. Did […]

Pope’s letter on SSPX excommunications: The official text

posted by David Gibson

The official text, published today by the Vatican: LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE BENEDICT XVI TO THE BISHOPS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH concerning the remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre Dear Brothers in the […]

“Assisted suicide” or “Assisted homicide”?

posted by David Gibson

In Georgia, a sting operation snares members of the “Final Exit Network.” The Times has the story, and it doesn’t sound like euthanasia. On emotional issues like this, an over-the-top case can change the national discourse is this such a […]

Coulter v. Maher: The Blond leading the Blind

posted by David Gibson

Or is it vice versa? I guess we’ll have to wait for video of the 2009 Speaker Series, which features right-wing harridan Ann Coulter against left-wing God-baiter Bill Maher. Now there’s a choice. The NYT has a story (and photos […]

Obama’s stem cell flop

posted by David Gibson

How many ways did Barack Obama go wrong in yesterday’s policy change on stem cell research? Here are a few of the larger themes, and some able dissections of them: ONE: Why didn’t Obama say more about the promise of […]

Brazil abortion story update: “We are killing childhood”

posted by David Gibson

Catholic News Service has the best coverage I’ve seen (no surprise) that clears up many of the confusions of the previous coverage (and in my post) about the nine-year-old Brazilian gril who was raped by her stepfather, impregnated with twins (she […]

Portrait of Shakespeare? Funny, he doesn’t look Catholic…

posted by David Gibson

Is this the only image of the Bard from life? Time magazine reports on the portrait, unveiled today in this newly-discovered–or rather attributed–portrait of William Shakespeare, whose likeness had heretofore never been rendered. (The NYT has a news update.) Shakespeare is […]

Obama as a Nazi? Bill Donohue goes there…

posted by David Gibson

The Catholic League statement was prompted by today’s stem cell research order. According to League president Bill Donohue: “Obama has stepped on a slope so slippery that many of his supporters may eventually regret he did so. It is not […]

GOP chairman Michael Steele (sort of) on SNL…

posted by David Gibson

…He gives an answer to the earlier question, “Whose party is it, anyway?”   Hat tip: dotCommonweal

Obama splits the baby. And denounces cloning.

posted by David Gibson

So in the earlier thread on Obama’s stem cell order today, “Reaganite” took me to task for wondering about the possible paths Obama would choose: “Please don’t pretend to us that there is any doubt or suspense in your mind […]

ARIS 2008: Americans are faith freelancers–Catholic adherence in decline

posted by David Gibson

“Believing without belonging” has been the American religious mantra for years, and the real-time effects of that anti-“religion” (or anti-institution?) bias was never so apparent as in the latest American Religious Identification Survey. ARIS 2008 surveyed more than 50,000 Americans […]

A Purim spiel

posted by David Gibson

Monday at sundown marks the start of the Jewish festival of Purim, drawn from the story of Queen Esther and recounting the deliverance of the Jews from disaster at the hands of the Persians. As The Jewish Encyclopedia notes, this is […]

Stem cells: WWOD?

posted by David Gibson

What will Obama do Monday morning when he announces a lifting of the ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research? He could add some conditions, which would perhaps mitigate some of the blow-back from the Christian (not Mormon–they […]

Nine-year-old girl raped by step-dad, has abortion: He is spared, excommunications for everyone else

posted by David Gibson

That’s the upshot of a story that is roiling Brazil, as a nine-year-old girl who was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant with twins received an abortion. There are conflicting reports as to whether the girl was excommunicated–this Irish Times […]

Faith as Stress-buster? See, Lent is good for you!

posted by David Gibson

The latest neuroscientific study (such research may be the economy’s lone growth industry) indicates that religious faith can help people chill when things go wrong–and that they will go wrong is one of life’s few guarantees these days. According to this story […]

Why Catholics fast–and why others do, too…

posted by David Gibson

An article in the Arkansas Catholic, the paper of the Diocese of Little Rock, talks to Scripture scholars and others on why we fast and what we gain from the practice. It is called “Fasting out of love: God doesn’t want a fulfilled […]

Thoughts for this Friday in Lent:

posted by David Gibson

I gave a parish talk last night on conversion, and what it means–to me as a convert, to us as Catholics (especially during Lent), to the modern world, and what it meant to the first Christians of Jesus’ day. Conversion […]

Vatican on Sebelius? Pax Romana…

posted by David Gibson

The Holy See doesn’t seem to be getting its rochet in a twist–yet–over Kathleen Sebelius. Religion News Service’s man in Rome, Francis X. Rocca, writes in an RNS blog post titled “Vatican [heart] Obama?” that items in L’Osservatore Romano on […]

Naumann v. Sebelius: The Battle of the Kansans heats up

posted by David Gibson

Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Naumann devotes his weekly column to Obama’s choice of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-choice Catholic, to be secretary of Health and Human Services. The column pretty well summarizes his disappointment and the history of their […]

Now here’s a real stimulus package…

posted by David Gibson

David P. Goldman says we need to procreate ourselves back to prosperity. At First Things, Goldman chides Republicans for all the failed and weak-kneed responses to the outrage that is (in his view) the Obama economic program. The cause of […]

Conservatives are a crackup!

posted by David Gibson

Well, only if you’re not a real conservative…For everyone else, it’s a bit like watching–well Comedy Central. The Rush-Steele matchup (Rush by TKO in the first, if you were out getting a snack) is the driving narrative, thanks also to […]

Mahony: Williamson is persona non grata in LA

posted by David Gibson

Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles has announced that Richard Williamson, the Holocaust-denying bishop of the right-wing SSPX sect, is “hereby banned from entering any Catholic church, school or other facility, until he and his group comply fully and unequivocally with […]

Welcome, Amy Welborn

posted by David Gibson

Okay, so we got (or are getting) Newt Gingrich, we lost (or are losing) Lindsay Lohan, but the day finishes with the biggest free agent signing of the off-season as Beliefnet snares blogger extraordinaire Amy Welborn. Amy’s longstanding site, “Charlotte […]

Win some, lose some: Lindsay Lohan, born Catholic, to become Jewish

posted by David Gibson

So we get Newt, and now lose Lindsay. I’m still trying to weigh the merits of the swap. Here’s the story via The Daily Mail: Lindsay Lohan is converting to Judaism in a bid to prove her devotion to Jewish girlfriend […]

Saint Newt? Gingrich to swim the Tiber

posted by David Gibson

It’s one heckuva parenthetical aside buried in the NYT Magazine’s lengthy profile of Newt Gingrich. But here it is, in its entirety: (A Baptist since graduate school, Gingrich said he will soon convert to Catholicism, his wife’s faith.) Wow. I’d […]

Whose party is it, anyway?

posted by David Gibson

The new RNC chairman Michael Steele got into a smackdown with Rush Limbaugh over who is the de facto leader of the GOP. Guess who backed down? Mr. Steele bristled after a questioner on CNN referred to Mr. Limbaugh as […]

Saint Barack?

posted by David Gibson

  Hey, they’ll help cut down on the utility bills we can’t pay… Andrew Sullivan has the “Face of the Day”: An image of U.S. President Barack Obama depicted as a saint is seen on a ten inch tall votive […]

Designer Babies: Beyond “Octo-Mom”

posted by David Gibson

Signs of the Apocalypse: The LA fertility clinic that is advertising its ability to give you the baby you’ve always wanted. Blond hair? No problem? Blue eyes? No sweat. Well, maybe they can’t do anything about sweating. But the owner […]

Catholic conundrum: Conservatives like Obama

posted by David Gibson

Obama’s choice of Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius to be HHS secretary was long-rumored after Tom Daschle’s withdrawal. But now that it’s a fact it is likely to set off another round of the Catholic Culture Wars, since Sebelius is a […]

The Fall of Rome? NY and sex abuse payouts

posted by David Gibson

Behind all the justifiable hosannas for Archbishop Timothy Dolan as he prepares to take over as leader of the Archdiocese of New York is a looming financial crisis in the form of a bill in Albany that would lifte the […]

Ideas for Lenten Practices

posted by David Gibson

For many years this site, “Sacred Space,” a ministry of the Irish Jesuits, has been one of my preferred sites for contemplation and prayer. Well, really the only one. Its simplicity and Ignatian orientation draw me back time and again, […]

Faces for a day of Fasting

posted by David Gibson

Job losses are mounting everywhere, and this sight–employees of The Rocky Mountain News reacting to word that today’s edition would be the last for the 150-year-old paper–is all too common. But I hope I always find it deeply affecting. And less common.

SSPX Bishop Williamson apologizes. Sort of…

posted by David Gibson

The Holocaust-denying schismatic Traditionalist was just kicked out of Argentina, which seems unjust to me, despite Williamson’s noxious views. Today, back in his native England, Wiliamson issued an apology, via ZENIT (an arm of the Legionaries, which has had its […]

Carnevale cocktail: A final Dolan mixer before Lent

posted by David Gibson

I’m not much for Mardi Gras–too old, too tired, too many hangovers. And that’s just the French Quarter. I, however, can’t take much forced revelry, either. But before Ash Wednesday strikes, let me point you to a Tim Dolan post I missed […]

Pope Benedict criticizes the criticizers

posted by David Gibson

The pontiff is taking unnamed critics to task, as per this CNS story, “Pope cautions against destructive polemics in the church.” The pope, speaking in German at his noon blessing Feb. 22, asked for prayers to St. Peter so that […]

Lenten recession reflection: Jim Martin on “The Colbert Report”

posted by David Gibson

Stephen Colbert wants to know why he should “jump on the poverty bandwagon” with the rest of us–and with those vowed religious who are ahead of the poverty curve (oh, and there’s chastity and obedience, too). Jesuit Father Jim Martin […]

And the winner is…Tim Dolan! (Who knew?)

posted by David Gibson

In perhaps the worst-kept secret in recent church history, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan was named to succeed Cardinal Edward Egan in New York. Dolan confessed that he’d known for 9 or 10 days, which is a long time to keep […]

“Your Scaredest Moment”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the hedder on Father Komonchak’s post at dotCommonweal, asking about readers’ scariest movie memories. His Oscar-week post was prompted by stumbling on the original “Alien” movie again while channel-surfing. That’s a good choice. Mine is below. Saw it in […]

The liturgical reforms of “30 Rock”

posted by David Gibson

“Col-lapsed” Catholic Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin’s character on “30 Rock,” goes to Mass in a recent episode and is forced to improvise. Hilarious. I keep telling myself I have to start watching. My only must-see TV these days is “24.” […]

Bishop Tobin’s chat with Obama: Did he really say that?

posted by David Gibson

The journalistic device of the imaginary interview with a VIP or celebrity or dead person who you’ll never be able to talk to in real life is a risky one, even for the best writers. Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin […]

Sebelius to HHS: Pro-lifers on alert?

posted by David Gibson

The New York Times is reporting that the mass-attending, barred-from-communion, pro-choice Catholic governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, is President Obama’s pick to run the Department of Health & Human Services. She replaces Tom Daschle, another pro-choice Catholic–but with reservations–whose nomination […]

Mickey Rourke’s guardian angel

posted by David Gibson

Lord knows the troubled actor needs one, and in one of the least-covered pre-Oscar stories you’ll see in the runup to the Sunday night movie awards, Rourke tells Our Sunday Visitor about the New York priest who helped turn him […]

WHAT were they thinking?

posted by David Gibson

You’ve likely read the story about the crazed chimp that went ape and critically mauled a woman in Stamford, CT (where such creatures are considered house pets). Police had to shoot and kill the poor simian. This morning, in an […]

Pope meets Pelosi: Something for everyone

posted by David Gibson

In a much-anticipated encounter, Benedict XVI met House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in a private meeting at the Vatican. No photos–officially–and just a 15-minute chat after his weekly public audience. (Besides, Pelosi already got her baciamano shot last April.) And as […]

Holy Cards: The latest collectible

posted by David Gibson

An Italian fellow named Graziano Toni from the northeastern Italian city of Faenza has catapulted holy card collecting into a serious hobby–he has 50,000 cards in his personal collection and has compiled about 2,000 of his finest ones in a […]

Is this any way to run a railroad?

posted by David Gibson

The Church’s revenge on journalists? The paranoid in me suspects that’s what is at work in the never-ending, almost-here, gotta-be-today anticipation of the announcement of a new New York archbishop. Today was DEFINITELY it. Rocco expected it: “Good morning…you might […]

Be careful what you pray for: Salma Hayek’s tale

posted by David Gibson

Revenge of the Good Catholic Girl: Movie star Salma Hayek tells why prayer works, and why you should never doubt the power of holy water. Key line: “Please God, give me some breasts. And he gave me them!” Hat tip–or […]

Is the Devil in the details?

posted by David Gibson

What do you see when you look at this picture of Pope Benedict XVI? I swear I didn’t get it, and had to ask for help. But Catholics with more sensitive (or suspicious) eyeballs saw Devil’s horns on the pope’s […]

Vox populi moves Vatican: New Linz bishop withdraws

posted by David Gibson

The Austrian priest whose appointment earlier this month caused an uproar due to his earlier remarks about Katrina being the fault of sinful Lousianians (among other things he said) has asked that his nomination as the new auxiliary bishop of […]

Cross Purposes

posted by David Gibson

Is Boston College Catholic? No, that’s not a joke, at least not to those whose hackles start raising at the phrase “in the Jesuit tradition.” But it seems BC, and specifically its president, Fr. William P. Leahy, SJ, are moving […]

Does love conquer all? Religious affiliation still matters

posted by David Gibson

About one in four Americans (27 percent) who are married or living with a partner are in “religiously mixed” relationships. That’s the word for this Valentine’s Day from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, which mined data from […]

Pitchers and catchers report! Maybe A-Rod can take up golf…

posted by David Gibson

Ah, spring training starts this weekend. Yes, hope springs eternal, even for a woeful Mets fan like me. Of course the ritual springtime melodrama of the crosstown Yankees is usually enjoyable for me–practically a season highlight, lately–except that with the […]

SSPX: Did tough talk win papal concessions?

posted by David Gibson

A fascinating in-house SSPX interview with Bishop Bernard Fellay, head of the schismatic right-wing order, shows he was taken by suprise by Benedict’s sudden lifting of the excommunications. Why? As Reuters’ Tom Heneghan has it in this FaithWorld post, Fellay […]

Reax to Pope to Jews: “Could do better…”

posted by David Gibson

That is certainly my sense of Benedict’s address at the Vatican this morning to U.S. Jewish leaders. The meeting was the latest and probably last high-profile effort to soothe Jewish-Catholic relations in the wake of the pontiff’s outreach to the […]

Text of Pope’s meeting with U.S. Jewish leaders

posted by David Gibson

The official text, delivered in English, today: Dear Friends, I am pleased to welcome all of you today, and I thank Rabbi Arthur Schneier and Mr Alan Solow for the greetings they have addressed to me on your behalf. I […]

Prologue to Pope’s meeting with Jewish leaders

posted by David Gibson

In this story Reuters’ Vaticanista Phil Pullella has the lowdown ahead of Thursday’s critical meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and American Jewish leaders. Read transcripts of Pullella’s interviews with leading members of the Jewish delegation, and see a timeline on […]

Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes

posted by David Gibson

Today is also the date, in 1858, that the Virgin Mary first appeared to Bernadette Soubirous in a grotto in Lourdes, in southwest France. During subsequent apparitions, Our Lady of Lourdes–as she came to be known–revealed various messages to Bernadette, […]

Buon compleanno, Citta’ del Vaticano!

posted by David Gibson

“All I want is a small corner of the earth where I am master,” Pope Pius IX said in 1871, when the reunification of Italy had finally overwhelmed church resistance and the Papal States were no more. And a small […]

Second thoughts: LA abuse story and Iraq vet

posted by David Gibson

Last week I linked to a story from the LA CityBeat paper that was making the rounds indicating that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles was engaged in an awful-sounding legal strategy to deny a possible abuse victim recourse to the […]

What do musical tastes tell about a Bishop?

posted by David Gibson

That’s the question I was asking as I tried to parse the latest blog posting from Bishop Richard Williamson, the un-excommunicated SSPX bishop who has become the focus of p.r. efforts by both the Vatican and his own confreres, who […]

Williamson removed as head of SSPX seminary

posted by David Gibson

SSPX leaders are continuing to quarantine the Holocaust-denying bishop, Richard Williamson. The Italian daily La Repubblica reports today that Williamson has been removed from the seminary in La Reja, outside Buenos Aries, which he had headed since 2003. What next?

Pope to meet Jewish leaders, Vatican source says

posted by David Gibson

In an important and I would think necessary step toward healing the Catholic-Jewish rift over the papal outreach to the SSPX, Benedict XVI is reportedly to meet next Thursday with leaders of the major Jewish organizations. A meeting with the […]

Has the purge begun?

posted by David Gibson

Not only has the SSPX started removing questionable texts on Jews from their websites, but word is now that clergy who refuse to adopt a new line are also getting the boot. Rorate Caeli cites Italian sources reporting that Father […]

Do they really want to go there?

posted by David Gibson

In Los Angeles, the U.S. attorney, Thomas O’Brien, has opened a federal probe of Cardinal Roger Mahony that is based on some questionable legal reasoning. Even Mahony’s foes concede that. But now it seems the LA Archdiocese is engaging in […]

“Recant?” Text of the Vatican statement on SSPX

posted by David Gibson

News reports of the latest Vatican statement on the SSPX Traditionalists and their standing and what they must do to enter true full communion centered on the Holy See’s demand that Bishop Richard Williamson, the most overt Holocaust denier, “recant.” […]

“The Mystery of the Jews” is no more…

posted by David Gibson

The SSPX “Tradicals,” whose anti-Semitic concoctions have landed their would-be new best friend, Pope Benedict XVI, in hot water, have apparently begun scrubbing the web of their worst musings. One article, “The Mystery of the Jews,” which I posted about […]

Update: The CAPTCHA has left the Blog!

posted by David Gibson

The Beliefnet Bosses have responded to laments about the difficulty of posting comments and the “captcha” system–which requires typing in the letters you see distorted in a box so your comment can go live–has been dropped, at least for now. […]

Egan leaving? “The piano is still here…”

posted by David Gibson

The buzz is a roar. The race to succeed Cardinal Edward Egan is nearing the finish line. And the winner is…! “Who knows?”, by a mile! Well, one sure bet is that the long-awaited announcement is nigh–Egan (he’s the one […]

Georg Ratzinger: “Lay off my brother!”

posted by David Gibson

Or that is more or less what the papstbruder told a German newspaper. Bild has the details on what Joseph’s protective older brother said in the interview. (Georg is three years older; a sister, Maria, died in the early 1990s.) […]

Vaticanista Sandro Magister blames the Curia

posted by David Gibson

This is how the preeminent Italian Vatican-watcher frames it: Double Disaster at the Vatican: Of Governance, and of Communication This is the upshot of the lifting of the excommunication for four Lefebvrist bishops. The isolation of Pope Benedict, the ineptitude […]

Bill Donohue blames “German guilt” for attacks on Pope

posted by David Gibson

That’s the typically pugnacious take of the head of the Catholic League in its latest release: “No one has been worse than the Germans. Reeking with guilt over the Holocaust, we now have the spectacle of German Chancellor Angela Merkel […]

Michael Dubruiel, RIP

posted by David Gibson

Michael Dubruiel, Catholic author and husband of the popular author and blogger Amy Welborn, father to their children, collapsed and died yesterday morning. As Amy wrote in a brief post last night: Michael collapsed this morning at the gym and […]

Cardinal George on Bishop Williamson: “Deeply offensive”

posted by David Gibson

More reaction from the hierarchy, this time Stateside. Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the USCCB, issued this statement today: Statement of Cardinal Francis George, President USCCB Pope Benedict XVI has lifted the personal penalty of excommunication incurred by four […]

Father Maciel scandal: A father to more than his flock?

posted by David Gibson

The late Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, the venerated and vilified founder of the powerful conservative Catholic order, the Legionaries of Christ, may have been a father in the biological as well. At American Papist, Thomas Peters confirms rumors circulating in […]

The Pope and the Jews: A failure to communicate?

posted by David Gibson

The Catholic “silence” over Benedict XVI’s self-made SSPX fiasco was raised earlier, with a focus on the relative absence of strong American voices. But overseas, at least, and from the Pope’s native Germany in particular, objections are being raised as […]

Pope to Israel? An “optimistic” Jewish voice

posted by David Gibson

Raymond Cohen, a top expert on relations between Israel and the Holy See, thinks Benedict’s planned visit this May to the Holy Land could happen. Cohen, a professor of international relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is at Boston College […]

Confessions of an ex-Traditionalist

posted by David Gibson

This does not come from an angry ex-con-turned-lib, but from Austin Ruse, a stalwart of orthodoxy who writes regularly at The Catholic Thing. His latest column, “Up from Traditionalism,” is a must-read in light of the SSPX-Pope Benedict XVI controversies. […]

America’s new national pastime?

posted by David Gibson

I mean football, not Catholic-bashing–though any faithful Catholic should be outraged at this morning’s Super Bowl headlines announcing “Steelers beat Cardinals.” I will look for Bill Donohue’s righteous anger at some point today. (“Would The New York Times have allowed […]

“Katrina was New Orleans’ fault”–another new Benedict bishop

posted by David Gibson

Oy vey. Benedict has just appointed a new auxiliary bishop in the Austrian diocese of Linz–the Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, 54, who thinks Katrina was punishment for New Orleans’ sins (and he hates “Harry Potter”, too). As Rocco notes, Linz […]

Silence and the SSPX: Where are the Catholic voices?

posted by David Gibson

Given the never-ending debate over Pope Pius XII and whether he was “silent” during the Nazi extermination of the Jews–or just prudent, as other claim–one woud think bishops across the world, and especially in the United States, would be speaking […]

SSPX: A “pattern of anti-Semitism”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the only conclusion one can come to, I think, and that’s the one Fr. Jim Martin arrives at in his post examining a sampling of the “gibberish” (Cardinal Kasper’s words) on the SSPX sites. Fr. Martin links to one […]

Galileo gets his due…

posted by David Gibson

Pope John Paul II had already “rehabilitated” the astonomer, condemned by the Inquisition in 1633. But as we approach his 450th birthday on Feb. 15, the Vatican is pulling out the stops for Galileo Galilei, the Italian scientist who proved […]

Bishop Williamson: From the Whale’s Mouth

posted by David Gibson

Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four newly-rehabbed Rad-Trad bishops at the heart of the furor over their anti-Semitic, Holocaust-denying views and Pope Benedict’s outreach to them, has apologized–sort of. Williamson has written to Cardinal Castrill√≥n Hoyos, Benedict’s point man […]

FOCA Follies

posted by David Gibson

In the wake of Barack Obama’s election victory, the pro-life movement seemed thoroughly disorganized, if not dispirited–until salvation arrived in the form of the Freedom of Choice Act, a.k.a. FOCA–a bill that would coerce Catholics into performing abortions, force the […]

Another Holocaust-denying SSPX leader

posted by David Gibson

This time an Italian priest with the inimitable name of “Abrahamowicz.” (As they say in the newspaper biz, you can’t make this stuff up–hard as we might try.) Indeed, Fr. Floriano Abrahamowicz, a pastor and spokesperson for the Society of […]

Bishop Williamson: We win!

posted by David Gibson

That’s more or less the sense one gets from reading the latest column, “The Re-Incommunication,” from the most notorious of the rehabilitated schismatic bishops, Richard Williamson. Williamson, an English-born convert from Anglicanism, has been the poster bishop for the ultra-Tradtionalist […]

And now for something completely different…

posted by David Gibson

Over at dotCommonweal, Fr. Komonchak started a caption contest for this shot from Wednesday’s General Audience. The lion cub came courtesy of the Medrano Circus, whose acrobats apparently performed a little something for the pontiff. Amy Welborn also has a […]

Catholic-Jewish relations continue to deteriorate

posted by David Gibson

The Chief Rabbinate of Israel has broken ties with the Vatican. Though there may be some hope in light of the pope’s comments earlier today. Here’s the AP story: JERUSALEM – Israel’s chief rabbinate severed ties with the Vatican on […]

Benedict XVI explains his SSPX strategy–such as it is

posted by David Gibson

The post below focused on accounts of Benedict XVI’s statements vis-a-vis Judaism and the SSPX rehabilitation effort which has ocassioned such controversy and pain. But the CNS story that just moved focuses on his remarks at the general audience on […]

Elie Wiesel: “The Vatican did it intentionally.”

posted by David Gibson

“What the intention was, I don’t know.” That’s the reaction from Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel, in an exclusive interview with Reuters about the furor over the rehabilitation of the anti-Semitic Traditionalists. Powerful stuff, strong words that need to […]

Pope in damage control mode

posted by David Gibson

At today’s weekly general (public) audience, Pope Benedict XVI weighed in with remarks aimed at distancing himself from the Holocaust denials of one of the recently un-excommunicated ultra-right “Tradical” bishops. Here’s the AP account: VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI […]

Kasper not so friendly to Williamson

posted by David Gibson

Cardinal Walter Kasper, the German prelate who heads the Vatican’s ecumenical office, has called Holocaust-denying statements by one of the newly-rehabbed right-wing bishops “stupid” and “unacceptable.” Cardinal Kasper–a pastorally-minded man who was touted as “Kasper the Friendly Pope” by oddmakers […]

Traditionalists and anti-Semitism: Hardly strangers

posted by David Gibson

Much of the furor over the rehabilitation (of sorts) of the right-wing schismatic bishops by Pope Benedict XVI has focused on anti-Semitism, particularly the Holocaust-denying statements of Bishop Richard Williamson. (And he has some other quirks, like denying that two […]

Pope Benedict and Vatican II: Another view

posted by David Gibson

Did anything happen at the Second Vatican Council? That’s the debate underlying the burgeoning disputes over the pope’s latest moves–the lifting of excommunications on four far-right schismatic Traditionalist bishops. In the post below on the topic, I cited comments by […]

Chief Rabbi: Vatican must examine its conscience

posted by David Gibson

A sharp call from head of the first Orthodox center to engage in religious dialogue with Rome: Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, reacting to the uproar over Pope Benedict’s reinstatement of four right-wing schismatic bishops, one of whom is a Holocaust-denier, took […]

Rewriting history: Vatican II gets a makeover at 50

posted by David Gibson

Fifty years ago today, Sunday, January 25, 1959, “Good” Pope John XXIII anounced to a small group of cardinals at a prayer service in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls to close the week of prayer for Christian […]

Obama’s Mexico City repeal: A pro-life policy?

posted by David Gibson

President Obama today fulfilled a campaign promise by repealing the so-called “Mexico City policy” that prohibits U.S. funding for overseas non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that provide abortion as part of their services or as part of their maternal care counseling. (Hence […]

Cardinal to President: Outlaw adultery and divorce!

posted by David Gibson

Well, that’s one way to read Cardinal George’s Jan. 13 letter to Obama, in the post below. In the letter (ZENIT text here) Cardinal George writes: “We stand firm in our support for marriage which is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong […]

Bishops’ strategy on Obama: Good Cops, Bad Cops?

posted by David Gibson

So the Catholic hierarchy in the U.S., through its president, Chicago Cardinal Francis George, welcomes the incoming President-elect just before his inauguration with a respectful, constructive letter, dated Jan. 13, setting out hopes for collaboration and working together on a […]

Pro-Life Day’s “Battle of the Ads”

posted by David Gibson

Today’s annual “March for Life” on the Mall in Washington marks 36 years since the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion and it takes place against concerns about “abortion fatigue” among the public, and “battle fatigue” among the troops, as […]

Bishop Gene Robinson’s prayer

posted by David Gibson

Sarah Pulliam at Christianity Today has video of the prayer of the gay Episcopal bishop, whose inclusion in inaugural events was expected to be as controversial as Rick Warren’s. But Warren could do worse than Robinson. Though we almost weren’t […]

Grading Obama

posted by David Gibson

Even more than most inaugural addresses, today’s speech by the new president will be greatly anticipated but, like most of these addresses, little remembered. Though who knows, Obama could join the ranks of JFK, FDR, and even Lincoln (especially the […]

Of Protestants and Presidents…

posted by David Gibson

Tomorrow’s inauguration will be historic for many reasons, the most obvious being the installation of the nation’s first African-American president. What will not change, however, is the Protestant monopoly of the event. The new president is a Protestant (though in […]

Secret Agent Man, RIP

posted by David Gibson

Patrick McGoohan has died, the actor best known (well, to me) for his role in the 1960’s CBS serial, “Secret Agent,” which is today perhaps best remembered by others for the unforgettable Johnny Rivers theme, “Secret Agent Man.” McGoohan (and […]

Israel in Gaza: “The Boss has lost it.”

posted by David Gibson

That phrase is from Ethan Bronner’s NYT analysis this morning of Israel’s strategy going into the Gaza campaign, which has now been suspended. It is meant to be a boast of sorts, not recognition of a mistake. It comes from […]

Allegations: Alaska is a dumping ground for predator priests

posted by David Gibson

A long-simmering story has burst into the open with the filing of a lawsuit alleging that the Jesuit order used Alaska as a “dumping ground” for abusive priests. According to coverage in the Anchorage Daily News, this week’s lawsuit is […]

Should we invade Canada?

posted by David Gibson

The jet splashdown in the Hudson yesterday was one of those riveting spectacles, such that I almost felt sorry for George W. Bush since no one seemed to pay attention to his farewell address. (Okay, I didn’t feel too bad.) […]

The Vatican likes Facebook, too…

posted by David Gibson

And not just because Jesus has his own page. An Italian priest writing in the Vatican-approved Jesuit journal, La Civilta’ Cattolica, says that “Basically, Facebook incarnates a utopia: that of always staying close to those people we care about in […]

“Jesus added you as a friend on Facebook…”

posted by David Gibson

Are you friends with Jesus? Jim Martin, my Jesuit friend, is. Finally. Yep, here’s the Big Guy’s page…And here’s what Father Jim has to say about it over at America’s blog: On the one hand, I was delighted. Who wouldn’t […]

The 111th Congress: We’ll know who to blame

posted by David Gibson

A Pew Forum survey of the religious make-up of the new Congress shows that the 535 members generally reflect the country’s religious demographic, though Catholics–24 percent of the population–comprise 30 percent of the House and Senate. But here’s the kicker: […]

“Life and death for people in Gaza is the same…”

posted by David Gibson

Those are the words of Fr. Manuel Musallam, a parish priest in Gaza, in an interview with Caritas Internationalis following the destruction of a Caritas health clinic by an Israeli F-16 fighter jet. According to a Caritas release, which also […]

Bishops who should resign: VOTF names names

posted by David Gibson

The leading national church reform group has issued a release calling on five U.S. bishops to step down from their job, and for former Boston archbishop, Cardinal Bernard Law, to resign his various ecclesial offices in Rome. The reform group […]

Gaza News Flash! “Joe the Plumber” is on the case…

posted by David Gibson

Only now he’s Joe the Journalist. (Well, he wasn’t really a plumber, either.) As Sarah Pulliam reports, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. “Joe the Plumber” of campaign fame, told a local Ohio TV station that he plans to report from the […]

Catholics and Jews and Gaza, Part Two

posted by David Gibson

Fellow Beliefnet blogger Brad Hirschfield of “Windows and Doors” takes issue with aspects of my post about a Vatican official’s explosive comparison of Gaza to “a big concentration camp.” Brad is at his civil best–no mean feat considering the topic–but […]

Gaza Strip=Concentration Camp?

posted by David Gibson

The Vatican’s chief spokesman on justice and peace issues, Cardinal Renato Martino, has made waves (and added to doubts over a May papal visit to the Holy Land) by comparing the Gaza Strip to “a big concentration camp.” (CNS has […]

Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

posted by David Gibson

Father Neuhaus, the founder of the conservative ecumenical journal of religion and politics and culture and everything else, First Things, died this morning. The magazine longtime second-in-command, Jody Bottum, has this announcement: Fr. Richard John Neuhaus slipped away today, January […]

Pope’s popularity: Is the thrill gone?

posted by David Gibson

The number of pilgrims and tourists coming to see Benedict XVI is declining steadily, raising alarms about the pontiff’s diminished appeal. According to this CNS story, figures released by the Vatican show that just over 2.21 million people saw Benedict […]

Quote of the Day

posted by David Gibson

“I don’t golf. As a matter of fact it leads many people to wonder if I’m really validly ordained.” — Detroit’s Archbishop-elect Allen Vigneron, in an interview upon being introduced to succeed Cardinal Adam Maida, who is still widely remembered […]

Mother of God: No easy job

posted by David Gibson

Today’s Feast of the Epiphany marks (in the Western Church) the revelation of God in human form–Jesus–to the world, through the symbol of the Magi, the Wise Men or Kings from the East who come to the manger bearing gifts. […]

SCANDAL? Catholic teacher fired for marrying a divorced guy

posted by David Gibson

That’s the story out of San Antonio and the Express-News (via the DMN blog). It seems that less than a week before her Nov. 22 marriage, 25-year-old Marquis LaFortune (pictured with her husband-to-be) was told she would be fired from […]

Haight update: Vatican action “not definitive”

posted by David Gibson

According to a Jesuit spokesman in Rome, via this CNS story, the action against Fr. Roger Haight reported below is “a suspension” rather than a final punishment. The process is ongoing, as a committee of three (unnamed) U.S. Jesuit theologians […]

Is the Vatican pro-Hamas?

posted by David Gibson

Or just pro-Palestinian? Or anti-Israel? Or are they distinctions without a difference? As the violence continues in Gaza the prospects for a papal visit to the Holy Land, anticipated for May, grow more remote. In his weekly analysis, Vaticanista Sandro […]

Vatican issues “punitive” measures against NY Jesuit

posted by David Gibson

Over at dotCommonweal, I have posted a report on further Vatican penalties against the Jesuit theologian, Roger Haight: Now Haight is barred from writing at all on theology, and he can’t even teach at a non-Catholic school. Which means he’ll […]

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posted 2:38:01pm Aug. 27, 2012 | read full post »

Moving on, and many, many thanks...
So...my recent vacation and related absences also coincided with an offer from PoliticsDaily.com to cover religion for them, as editor Melinda Henneberger announces here in her roundup on the site's very successful first 100 days. That ...

posted 8:29:24pm Aug. 02, 2009 | read full post »

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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