Benedictions: The Pope in America

Actually, that may be “suo.” Is “blog” masculine? I trust this blog is. Perhaps Reggie Foster, the pope’s inimitable Latinist, can help out here. I don’t have enough Latin to know. And it’s not because I am a convert to Catholicism. As a post-Vatican II Catholic, I probably wouldn’t have learned enough Latin to know…

By David Gibson Religion News Service Central to the anticipation surrounding Pope Benedict XVI’s April visit to the United States is a widespread curiosity among U.S. Catholics about a pontiff whom they mostly know only through headlines and video clips. What he is like in person? And what he will say to his large and…

By Francis X. Rocca Religion News Service VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI will become the third leader of the Catholic Church to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York, following Pope Paul VI in 1965, and Pope John Paul II in 1979 and 1995. Vatican officials have not indicated what Benedict might…

Yet another papal paradox: The Pope who was expected to create such a stir among Catholics after his election has instead found his greatest controversies centering on his relations with Islam. First he met–in secret, until the word leaked out–with the late Italian author and avowed atheist and fierce critic of Islam, Oriana Fallaci. A…

So the popular Build-a-Bear company is getting in on the papal memorabilia craze, having won rights to market, yes, an official Benedict “Christ Our Hope” teddy bear t-shirt. Here’s the catch: The company is only selling the t-shirt in its Washington-area stores. That Build-a-Bear papal gear would not be respectful enough for the NYC church…

Don’t let all the talk (much of it mine) of a Gregorian chant-loving, Latin Mass-celebrating, professor-pope turning the April 15-20 visit into a five-day Vespers service. It’s impossible to quell the Jamboree atmosphere surrounding any pope’s visit to America, and the Archdiocese of New York isn’t going to try. Hence, the official Papal Skateboard Art…

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service WASHINGTON (RNS) Most Americans hold a favorable opinion of Pope Benedict XVI, but the vast majority confess they don’t know much about the pontiff, according to a new poll. Just weeks before Benedict’s first trip to the U.S. as leader of the Roman Catholic Church, 58 percent of Americans…

By Daniel Burke Religion News Service Asked about her church’s ban on artificial birth control, Emily Kunkel inhales deeply and pauses. “It’s hard because the church has had this stance for so many years, there’s so much tradition behind it,” she says. “But I think in certain circumstances condoms should be used.” Kunkel, a 20-year-old…

By Brittani Hamm Religion News Service WASHINGTON — With only two months to design and construct the altar that will be used for the giant outdoor papal Mass next month, two first-year grad students at Catholic University have relied on state-of-the-art machinery to get the job done. It’s the type of artistic technology that would…

By Tom Feeney Religion News Service This the official schedule for Pope Benedict XVI’s trip to Washington and New York April 15-20: TUESDAY, APRIL 15, 4 P.M. Arrival at Andrews Air Force Base. Greeting by President Bush and Mrs. Bush. Also present will be local dignitaries of the church and the apostolic nuncio, the pope’s…

David Gibson
about

David Gibson

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.

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