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Pontifications

Pontifications

Pop Culture Archives

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.

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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 […]

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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 […]

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“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

“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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

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: […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Church: The Best Hangover Cure!

posted by David Gibson

Feeling a little hangdog this morning? Overindulged last night? Bubbly? Booze? Any other “Killer Bs”? So you swear this is the dawning of a new day. It is a new year, after all. And right on cue, here’s your surefire […]

Jump into the 2009 “Catholic Pool”!

posted by David Gibson

Inspired by William Safire’s annual Office Pool of predictions for the coming year, I am herewith inaugurating a “Catholic Pool” for 2009. Safire’s 2009 NYT pool column ran last Sunday, and you have to hand it to him for keeping […]

Rescuing the housing market AND the souls of stock traders

posted by David Gibson

The latest report shows housing values continue to plummet. And the misdeeds of swindlers like Bernie Madoff continue to proliferate. What to do? The German town of Augsburg–of the famous Lutheran Confession–has a very Catholic response: Dirt cheap rents ($.23 […]

The “myth” of holiday suicide rates

posted by David Gibson

I thought the old saw that suicides increase during the holidays–the result, it was assumed, of isolation and despair deepened by the camaraderie ostensibly being enjoyed by everyone else–was an Urban Legend that I was the last to catch on […]

Fr. Richard McBrien: Liberal? Try “broad centrist”…

posted by David Gibson

Notre Dame’s well-known, highly-regarded–though not in some circles–theologian and commentator Richard McBrien spoke recently with the Globe’s Michael Paulson and, not surprisingly, fireworks ensued. Yet as often happens, it wasn’t so much anything McBrien said, as much as the apoplexy […]

Recovering St. Joseph

posted by David Gibson

As a father of only a few years duration, I have developed an especial affection for St. Joseph, who always intrigued me given the short shrift he gets in the Gospels. And that leads to such odd devotions as burying […]

Which Christmas? Luke or Matthew?

posted by David Gibson

In this U.S. Catholic interview, scripture scholar Sr. Laurie Brink, OP provides some very sensible, scholarly, and faith-based pastoral answers to questions you may have wondered about the Gospel accounts of Christmas–but were afraid to ask. For instance: Why do […]

Yes, Virginia, there WAS a Santa Claus…

posted by David Gibson

But he’s not quite like you’ve been told. He was St. Nicholas of Myra, in fourth-century Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), and as Kim Lawton of Religion & Ethics Newsweekly shows, some Americans are re-discovering a truly profound Christmas character: “St. […]

REALLY Original Sin

posted by David Gibson

Scandals galore, the Fall of Man, the Pope on Original Sin (as per Cathleen Kaveny at dotCommonweal)–how did it all happen? Answer: Evolution made us do it. From Natalie Angier’s science column in the NYT: Deceitful behavior has a long […]

The Hokey Pokey is anti-Catholic? So THAT’S what it’s all about!

posted by David Gibson

Yes, I knew about the anti-papist origins of “hocus pocus,” a riff on the formula of consecration in Latin in the Mass, hoc est corpus meum, or “this is my body.” But it turns out the “Hokey Cokey,” as the […]

Christmas Quiz: How much do you really know?

posted by David Gibson

Take the “Christmas Quiz” at Christian History. Ten questions, among them: Apart from a famously repetitive carol, what do the “twelve days of Christmas” refer to? Which of the following best describes the origin of the candy cane? When did […]

A Theory of “Devolution”?

posted by David Gibson

Turns out dinosaurs were stay-at-home dads. According to this Washington Post story: Did oviraptor daddies look forward to trips to the park? Alas, that’s a question the fossil record can’t answer. But it does appear that many dinosaur fathers spent […]

Last-minute gifts!

posted by David Gibson

Yes, if you’re really stumped, you can get (or get me) a Sarah Palin wall calendar! Or not. Perhaps a “Calendario Romano 2009″ with the “Priests of Rome”–one clerical hunk per month? I got these every time I went, as […]

Is iPrayer a Killer App?

posted by David Gibson

. It had to happen: The iPhone–a.k.a. the Jesus Phone–gets an iBreviary, and with a Vatican imprimatur. The Times of London has the story: The Vatican has approved a computerised prayerbook for a new generation of gadget-loving Roman Catholic priests. […]

Farewells, Part One: A Brooklyn Monastery

posted by David Gibson

In my corner of the Catholic Church–the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region generally, Brooklyn specifically–parish and church and monastery closings are practically part of our ritual. A big part of the problem is the vocations crisis, also the economic crunch, and […]

Soft-core alert! Virgin Mary on Playboy cover

posted by David Gibson

The good news is that the Chicago-based publisher has offered “sincerest apologies” for the cover, which came out in the December edition, timed for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the Nativity–pretty much the Big […]

Humbug: Old Fogey, SJ

posted by David Gibson

I had just finished ordering our annual sheaf of seasonally tacky and nicely inexpensive Christmas cards–my three-year-old on a carousel in various stages of glee, below her a wish for joy to the world and peace in 2009 and all […]

Economic recession–Evangelical Boom. Catholic bust?

posted by David Gibson

The Times’ Paul Vitello had an interesting piece yesterday on how churches are seeing a surge in attendance as the economy tanks. But it is mainly the “enthusiastic” denominations of Evangelicalism and Pentecostalism that are doing well. Even Jehovah’s Witnesses […]

Is the Shroud of Turin real?

posted by David Gibson

The Discovery Channel opens up what many–including the Vatican–had taken to be a settled question, namely whether the famous Shroud of Turin is truly the burial cloth of Jesus. “Unwrapping the Shroud: New Evidence,” airs Sunday (today), Dec. 14, at […]

The Devil and Brooklyn’s Catholic Channel

posted by David Gibson

Sound like an odd couple? Not the way the new TV czar for my own Brooklyn diocese does it. Deacon Greg Kandra, a longtime CBS News and “60 Minutes” writer–and author of The Deacon’s Bench blog–was recently hired by Bishop […]

Thomas Merton, 40 years on…

posted by David Gibson

1968 was a true annus horribilis, as the Queen (upending Dryden) might have said, with the assassinations of Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the social upheavals surrounding the Vietnam War ramping up. Then, on Dec. 10, 1968, came […]

Can Catholics read the Bible?

posted by David Gibson

The short answer is, Yes, finally. The somewhat longer answer, as I detail in this cover story for America magazine, “A Literate Church: The State of Catholic Bible Study Today,” is “Yes–but they’re not doing it enough.” Check it out, […]

Rome of the early Christians: You are there…

posted by David Gibson

Google has captured the future. Now it is taking over the past. But that’s not such a bad thing, when it provides new features like this “Ancient Rome 3D” marvel, which, as the NYTimes story shows, has re-created the Rome […]

Apologies for the Lacuna

posted by David Gibson

I haven’t posted for much of the past week, thanks to various plagues running through the house (Toddler=Petri Dish) and a family visit to New Orleans. I was hoping to post from there, but family visits being what they are… […]

Koncelebration 4 Kids!

posted by David Gibson

Answered prayer. Just came across this–the perfect Christmas gift for my daughter AND the perfect solution to the vocations crisis: My Mass Kit, the “flagship product” from a new Catholic toy company called Wee Believers™. According to the website, “Children […]

Cringe alert! Mike Huckabee in stilettos

posted by David Gibson

Yes…that could be Huck’s next campaign poster. Since election day, failed GOP contender and true-blue (or is that red?) evangelical, Mike Huckabee, has been settling some scores, as this TIME magazine piece on his new book shows. Now it has […]

UPDATE: Lennon needed no “forgiveness”–at least not from the Vatican

posted by David Gibson

Updating yesterday’s Beatles post…A letter to the editor in today’s NYT, clarifying that while the Osservatore Romano was trying to be generous, they still didn’t quite ” get” what Lennon was saying: November 25, 2008 You Can Make It O.K. […]

Vatican “forgives” Lennon…

posted by David Gibson

That’d be John, not Vladimir. (Yes, I know, and it’s Lennon, not Lenin.) And “forgive” would be the hedder on the Reuters version of the story about L’Osservatore Romano’s remarkable appreciation of The Beatles on the 40th anniversary of The […]

Obama NOT “aggressive, disruptive and apocalyptic”? Cardinal Stafford reconsidered…

posted by David Gibson

Or that’s what NCR columnist John Allen tries to do in his weekly column out today. You’ll recall the outcry after the initial report of Cardinal Stafford’s remarks at CUA in Washington. Today, Allen argues that Stafford’s remarks must be […]

Newsflash: Catholics read the Bible!

posted by David Gibson

…But still not enough of us, or often enough. The tools are there, even if the recent Synod on the Word in Rome didn’t deploy them. Here’s a Wall Street Journal piece I wrote for last Friday’s paper that may […]

Syrup with your Saviour?

posted by David Gibson

Yes, after the hullaballo over the “Jesus Cheeto,” we now have Christ in the crust–French Toast crust, that is. Read on… Troy Eckonen was eating breakfast at Mack’s Cafe in Pompano Beach last Tuesday when he spotted Jesus’ face on […]

Top Ten Catholic blogs on Blogs.com: Check ‘em out!

posted by David Gibson

So we move from the Top Ten Religion blogs compiled for the mega-aggregator, Blogs.com, to the Top Ten specifically Catholic blogs… I excluded Pontifications, which I thought a supreme act of humility. But I am willing to be contradicted. Also, […]

Wahlberg to the “Pew-parazzi”: Never on a Sunday!

posted by David Gibson

Mark Wahlberg is a movie star, producer of the HBO series “Entourage,” and a Catholic, and fame and faith seem to overlap–even at Mass. “I go to church and people ask me if they can be on ‘Entourage,’ what’s gonna […]

Prayers for Andrew Greeley

posted by David Gibson

The Chicago priest, novelist, sociologist, newspaper columnist, friend of importunate Catholic writers like me and many others, remains in critical but stable condition at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge. Father Greeley fell and fractured his skull last Friday […]

Top Ten religion blogs on Blogs.com: Check ‘em out…

posted by David Gibson

Blogs.com asked me to compile a list of the Top Ten blogs on religion on the web–no easy task, and I’m David Gibson, not David Letterman. Nonetheless, check out my take–and feel free to leave suggestions or criticisms. (Need I […]

Vatican embraces Freud: Anything for a gay-free priesthood!

posted by David Gibson

…A major component of the new document, reported today by CNS, is to screen out men who, as Rome put it before, “are active homosexuals or who have “deep-seated” homosexual tendencies.” The document says psychological testing was appropriate in “exceptional […]

Is Halloween Catholic? Father Jim explains it for you…

posted by David Gibson

The gang at BustedHalo is up to their usual high jinks, and it is a treat to watch, with some nice tricks at the end. Really, you’ll learn something, and be entertained….

Tony Hillerman…Catholic novelist. Who knew?

posted by David Gibson

The mystery novelist is dead at 83, after a long and successful life. I never read him, but may start. The Times obit was good as far as it went, but I didn’t know about his Catholic faith and its […]

Can Bono save The New York Times?

posted by David Gibson

The rock star and humanitarian has been asked to write occasional Op-Eds for the Gray Lady, according to today’s NYT. Catherine J. Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company, said, “We have asked Bono to write an occasional […]

As the Rays go…So goes Obama?

posted by David Gibson

Yes, Tampa Bay lost game one of the World Series to Philadelphia. Does that mean Obama will lose to McCain? Hey, who expected either the Rays or Obama to be here, anyway? Well, Nate Silver did. The genius behind FiveThirtyEight.com […]

“Religion of the Word” vs. “Religion of the Book”?

posted by David Gibson

Or, “Catholics aren’t like Jews or Muslims…” That is one of the divides emerging during the current Synod on the Bible being held at the Vatican. (The formal title of the meeting of some 250 bishops and sundry experts is […]

Saintly Sex: Thank God!

posted by David Gibson

When Louis Martin and Zélie Guérin, devout Catholics both, got married in 1858, they didn’t have sex. Nope. Not for 10 long months, until Zélie (God bless her) dragged her new husband to an old priest who straightened him out […]

Saint Sean’s first miracle?

posted by David Gibson

The Red Sox stunned the Rays with an amazing 8-7 comeback win last night! Joy in Beantown! Faith at Fenway! Read the Globe coverage here. But was it perhaps something else that forestalled a renascent Curse? Such as this man, […]

Were Adam & Eve vegans?

posted by David Gibson

Hey, the Bible tells me so…After all, it was fruit (though not necessarily an apple) that Eve picked, causing all that trouble. (Just kidding.) But CNS’ Cindy Wooden, covering the Synod on the Word currently going on in the Vatican […]

Remembering the “other” John Paul

posted by David Gibson

John Paul I, born Albino Luciani, has unfortunately become something of a forgotten figure. He himself, in typically self-effacing fashion, too the combined name of his two predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI, and his successor–elected after John Paul I’s […]

Donna Brazile: A good Catholic girl lets loose…

posted by David Gibson

…And says what I wish more Catholic leaders would about the ugly, angry–and yes, race-baiting–tone of the McCain/Palin campaign. Watch the video from a recent New Yorker campaign symposium…She’s not going to the back of the bus anymore!  

Latin Lives! Thanks to Harry Potter…

posted by David Gibson

Yes, the Boy Wizard apparently strikes again. His latest spell: enchanting young people (at least here in New York) with his Latin-ish spells to take up the “dead” language. “Dead” being a relative term (pardon the pun), as Pope Benedict […]

High Noon: The campaign as a Western movie

posted by David Gibson

But who are the Good Guys? John McCain and Sarah Palin think they are, and in this piece in the current issue of The Tablet of London, I try to explain the campaign to Britons through the lens of the […]

Yom Kippur

posted by David Gibson

Today is the Day of Atonement, which concludes the High Holy Days. The 1901-06 Jewish Encyclopedia (which might be comparable in tone and content to the 1914 Catholic Encyclopedia, but still fascinating if outdated in some respects) is online. Here […]

“Ethic Soup”

posted by David Gibson

That’s the name of a new blog from Sharon McEachern in Denver. Sharon cross-posted to our “Eugenics” story out of Louisiana, and takes it a few levels deeper–as she does with many other ethical issues of our day. They challenge […]

The Empty Tomb: Cardinal Newman’s last laugh

posted by David Gibson

Was Cardinal Newman gay? Or (as the joke has it) simply divine? That was the controversy that dominated the dust-up over exhuming John Henry Newman, the great nineteenth-century English convert to Rome, in order to move his body to a […]

Paul Newman: From “The Silver Chalice” to “Dashboard Jesus”

posted by David Gibson

In the week since Paul Newman died I’ve been looking for the Catholic “hook” to write something here about the great movie star. Providentially, and not surprisingly, thanks to its punchier new style, the Vatican’s official newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, gave […]

Sarah Palin: Religionless Christian?

posted by David Gibson

Who’s afraid of Sarah Palin? And her faith? I’m one of those who thinks all the hand-wringing about her supposedly ideological right-wing faith is way overblown. Could she be a right-wing religious ideologue if in office? Perhaps she’d follow the script […]

Inside Obama’s God Ops

posted by David Gibson

Barack Obama is not giving up on faith-based voters. While polls seem to show voters stuck in same pattern as 2004, despite the Democrat’s persistent outreach and God talk, the campaign is redoubling its efforts and rejecting suggestions that the […]

Abortion? Gay marriage? It’s the (stupid) economy!

posted by David Gibson

Do the hot-button culture war issues like abortion and gay marriage matter? If you read only blogs or the news coverage (such as this NYTimes story, “Abortion Issue Again Dividing Catholics”) you might get the impression that these are the […]

Among the Unbelievers: New poll shows secularist strength

posted by David Gibson

Results from the huge American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) of 2000 stunned many and led to heated debates when it showed some 14 percent of Americans embracing some form of secularism. Preliminary numbers released today from the upcoming 2008 ARIS […]

Sorry, no “Father” Brad Pitt. How about Philip Seymour Hoffman?

posted by David Gibson

A couple of weeks ago I picked up on the entertaining news, via Jim Martin at “In All Things,” that Brad Pitt would be playing Father Emilio Sandoz, a Jesuit scientist, in the film version of Mary Doria Russell’s “The […]

Did you hear the one about the Pope and the Prophet?

posted by David Gibson

Joking about the Holy Father isn’t always funny, or a wise idea in Italy. An Italian comedian, Sabina Guzzanti, said nasty things about the Holy Father at a recent rally in Rome and according The Times of London account is […]

Christian-omics?

posted by David Gibson

The turmoil on Wall Street is continuing, and even though it is closer to me than even Russia is to Alaska, I understand less than little about economics. And yet the human toll of the crashes and crises is poignantly […]

Orthodox: Right belief–wrong word?

posted by David Gibson

Has the term “orthodoxy” lost its meaning? It means “right belief,” or “correct doctrine.” But among Christians it has become a fighting word, and the media has misconstrued it–especially in the contested Catholic context–as a pejorative or, worse, a secular […]

“Biker chicks” was one thing. But “Nuns on Hogs”?

posted by David Gibson

Yes, Catholic News Service has the story: MILWAUKEE (CNS) — Don’t let their veils and name — Sisters of Charity of St. Joan Antida — deceive you. Members of the Milwaukee order aren’t just brides of Christ. They’re biker girls. […]

Jumping the shark? Frog on a cross is one animal the Pope doesn’t care for…

posted by David Gibson

Pope Benedict XVI is quite an animal lover (as we noted here). But he is also quite the esthete, and this sculpture, in a museum in Bolzano, the northern Italian town near where the pontiff vacations, apparently went too far […]

“Miss Understanding”! Sorry, but the nuns’ beauty pageant is a bust…

posted by David Gibson

I got the news–and that headline (well, the first half)–via RNS, which reported that the beauty contest for religious women that I wrote about the other day has been cancelled. “My superiors were not happy. The local bishop was not […]

“Palin’s pregnant!” Easy, easy…It’s only her unwed 17-year-old daughter.

posted by David Gibson

I had thought the terrifying onslaught of Gustav and the efforts by the GOP to dodge the Katrina bullet–or turn it to McCain’s benefit–would be the story of the day, but the bombshell news that Sarah Palin’s 17-year-old daughter Bristol […]

Doug Kmiec: “The better question is how could a Catholic not support Barack Obama?”

posted by David Gibson

Doug Kmiec, the former Reagan/Bush official and abortion-opposing Catholic who is supporting Barack Obama, has been the topic of much discussion, here at Pontifications and elsewhere. In today’s NYTimes, columnist Peter Steinfels interviews Kmiec. Here’s one of many fascinating–and likely […]

Picking Palin: McCain’s Folly, or “crazy like a fox”?

posted by David Gibson

John McCain has certainly revived his maverick label by picking–or plucking from obscurity–freshman Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running mate. (WaPo coverage here, and NYT coverage here.) Like every candidate, there are pluses and minuses with her. On the […]

Brad Pitt, SJ

posted by David Gibson

Yep, the Society of Jesus gets all the good ones…Over at “In All Things,” the blog of America magazine, the flagship Jesuit weekly, Father Jim Martin–an author of no minor celebrity himself, reports that Brad Pitt has been cast as […]

Check out this “Nun’s Story” A beauty pageant for women religious…

posted by David Gibson

According to The Times of London, yes, indeed, an Italian priest (where else?) is holding an online beauty contest to find the best-looking nun. Father Antonio Rungi, of Mondragone, near Naples, said he expected at least 1,000 nuns to enter […]

Confess! Do U txt in Church?

posted by David Gibson

Okay, add to the list of modern annoyances in sacred spaces checking email and texting. Part of the Crackberry, er, Blackberry culture (which I have recently joined) I guess. Lord, save me. It may be hard. AOL’s Fourth Annual Email […]

The Inflatable Church!

posted by David Gibson

Perhaps it doesn’t beat what they’re building for “Angels & Demons,” but a diligent reader dug up a photo of the famous Inflatable Church that we spoke about here earlier. Check out a cool gallery of pictures here. And note […]

FLASH! Dan Brown starts his own church!

posted by David Gibson

Evidently tired of dragging down the Catholic Church, blockbuster novelist Dan Brown has apparently decided to found his own religion–and yet it looks an awful lot like the one he has accused of everything that has ever gone wrong in […]

Beach Blanket Bingo, too…?

posted by David Gibson

Check this out this Reuters piece about a blow-up church (real deal, Catholic and consecrated) and convent for a bit of beach ministry in Italy: ROME (Reuters) – Catholic nuns and priests in Italy are following their flocks to the […]

The “papstbruden” on holiday

posted by David Gibson

Write your own caption below. (CNS/L’Osservatore Romano photo via Reuters from the USCCB home page.)

Praise Cheesus!

posted by David Gibson

Or rather, the Jesus Cheeto, as it’s being called. Yes, we’ve found Mother Teresa in a cinnamon bun (until it was stolen) and of course the Virgin Mary everywhere (check out this gallery). Now we have Jesus in a Cheeto, […]

Pope’s fur faux pas

posted by David Gibson

When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected Benedict XVI, one of the first–and perhaps more surprising, given its liberal bent–endorsers of the choice was PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. PETA has never been shy about invoking Christianity in its […]

Batman and Lambeth?

posted by David Gibson

Never thought you’d see that connection, eh? Well, think again. I’d forgotten in my earlier Batman post to refer to one of my favorite superhero pastimes, figuring out the religious affiliation of comic book characters. ReligionLink.org has an edition dedicated […]

Catholic Channel surfing: John Paul & Howard Stern?

posted by David Gibson

Any satellite radio subscribers out there? I’m not–yet–but I’ve been on the Catholic Channel on Sirius Radio a couple of times, mainly with Fr. Dave Dwyer and the Busted Halo crew, who are probably more my speed than the channel’s […]

The soul of “The Dark Knight”

posted by David Gibson

It is a dark soul indeed, and that is what makes the movie–which I saw last (k)night–so powerful. I can’t qualify as a comic-book or action-hero or sci-fi geek (though my geekiness is evident in other areas), and I am […]

The Gospel of Saint Oprah?

posted by David Gibson

Speaking of book clubs, Oprah Winfrey has not only inspired a cult-like following–and a book by my religion writing colleague Marcia Nelson, called “The Gospel According to Oprah”–but now she has the sort of Christian critics that real cult leaders […]

Summer reading: A can’t miss suggestion

posted by David Gibson

In my humble opinion, at least–the suggestion would be “Say You’re One of Them,” a collection of short stories from Uwem Akpan, a Jesuit priest from Nigeria who is, remarkably and courageously, teaching at a seminary in Zimbabwe, at least […]

The end of the world as we know it?

posted by David Gibson

Or more of the same? Only I haven’t been paying attention–in fact, this brief item in a recent NYT was the first I’d heard of a program called “Baby Borrowers.” To wit: The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry […]

Heck with the swallows–let’s all go back to Capistrano…

posted by David Gibson

A nice Orange County Register piece about the fifth anniversary of Father Art Holquin’s ministry at Mission San Juan Capistrano, the premier historic mission in California, dating back 232 years. Tradition couldn’t keep the mission in decent shape, however, and […]

Faith and Prayer: The untold side of Ingrid Betancourt’s hostage drama

posted by David Gibson

The dramatic rescue of Ingrid Betancourt and others held hostage by Colombia’s FARC thugs riveted the world for days (which is an eternity of sorts in media years). But a signal aspect of her captivity–and her survival–was her intense devotion. […]

Is the iPhone Catholic? Is the PC Protestant?

posted by David Gibson

These and other questions will press in on the true believer as Apple releases its new and improved version of the iPhone. Or perhaps this “Second Coming,” as the NYTimes’ tech writer David Pogue puts it in his column, isn’t […]

Richard John Neuhaus for President!

posted by David Gibson

OMG! Damon Linker was right! First Things is the center of a vast theocon conspiracy! And RJN is its leader! Check out the news story clip here… (H/T: First Things blog.)

Indiana Jones move over: A real blockbuster find in biblical archeology

posted by David Gibson

Fascinating story just moved by The New York Times on a stone tablet which apparently came from the Dead Sea area and speaks of a messiah who will rise from the dead after three days…and it is dated to decades […]

The newest Popemobile?

posted by David Gibson

“Funky” and “Pope Benedict XVI” generally aren’t found in the same news item, but they are in this CNS blog post about the pontiff receiving a gift of a pair of Piaggio Ape-Calessino three-wheel, two-stroke putt-putt of the sort that […]

“Christ Almighty: Tangy, yet nauseating?”

posted by David Gibson

The misbegotten blog-confession (there must be a juicy neologism in there) of the Washington Post’s “On Faith” co-founder, Sally Quinn, that she took communion at the funeral of her friend Tim Russert has provoked a pretty healthy web-storm. As it […]

FASHION UPDATE! Pope does NOT wear Prada

posted by David Gibson

L’Osservatore Romano, the official Vatican newspaper, confirms rumors that those nifty red loafers Benedict XVI has worn since the day after his election are not name brand, but personally cobbled by some Vatican Geppetto. According to the AP: “Obviously the […]

Everyone’s selling something…

posted by David Gibson

Even the Swiss Guards, it seems, are into the marketing racket. As readers of this blog know, and as I explain in my “Pontifications” introduction, I like to roam the broad realm of Catholic faith and culture, from the sublime […]

Last chance? Or last laugh? It’s here: Post-Rapture spam…

posted by David Gibson

Seriously. As ABC News reports, a 49-year-old supermarket shelf-stocker from Cape Cod has come up with a brilliant idea: A website called Youvebeenleftbehind.com which enables the saved to store e-mails and documents that will be sent to up to 63 […]

Wars of Religion (Kitsch)

posted by David Gibson

Speaking of souvenirs–as I like to do–while the Presbyterian Church (USA) is discussing (arguing) homosexuality at their meeting in San Jose, they are making great inroads against the Catholic Church. According to the omnipresent Gary Stern of the Westchester Journal […]

George Carlin, R.I.P.

posted by David Gibson

The potty-mouthed, acid-tongued, but often hilarious comedian George Carlin has died, and with him another product of a bygone Catholic culture–the parochial school “class clown” (as he styled himself) who rebelled against all those strictures but got his revenge by […]

Russert update

posted by David Gibson

The public mourning for Tim Russert is going on today with a viewing at the St. Albans School, the Episcopal school his son attended in Washington. The private funeral mass will be held tomorrow (Wednesday) at Holy Trinity Church, the […]

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Thank you for visiting Pontifications. This blog is no longer being updated. Please enjoy the archives. Here are some other blogs you may also enjoy: Faith, Media and Culture Prayer, Plain and Simple Happy Blogging!!!  

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 means, in short, that I'll have to sign off from blogging h

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 the new look Calvin in an essay at PoliticsDaily, "Patr

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, hence the long absence. Apologies to those who have chec

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 contribution in developing countries" were key topics of discussio

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

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