Benedictions: The Pope in America

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is not likely to fade into the woodwork anytime soon, but while we’re in the midst of l’affaire Wright and its toll on Barack Obama, it is worth considering another unsettling lesson in all of this: That for all the talk of closing the “God gap,” episodes like this one–and battles…

Steve Waldman and Deal Hudson are having a debate about why Clinton is winning the Catholic vote and Obama is not–an interesting development given that the two candidates share most social justice views that might appeal to Catholics, as well as being pro-choice and pro-gay rights and such. Steve argues that “in the Democratic primaries,…

Rudy is at it again. Anyone watching the papal mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 19 must have been surprised to see Giuliani–twice-divorced (once annulled), thrice-married, pro-gay rights, pro-abortion rights–take communion. Rudy hadn’t done this before, in my experience–neither at the Central Park Mass in 1995 with John Paul, nor at O’Connor’s funeral in…

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is back in the news, delivering some fiery (the indispensible adjective with the Rev. Wright) rhetoric yesterday at the close of a meeting of the NAACP’s Detroit branch. Wright’s unrepentant talk and prophetic style are likely to make you smile if you are a black Christian or Hillary Clinton, and if…

Great headline on a Catholic World News report citing a German study linking religiosity and the number of children: “Women of faith found more fertile” Think of all the money you could save on IVF, huh? Well, actually, CWNews is right that the study is a no-brainer: religious observance does correlate to larger families. But…

Can’t get enough of Benedict? Or was il papa not your taste? You might try this curiosity–a pope made out of pizza dough. Prudence Emma Staite is a British (did I have to add that?) experimental food artist (don’t ask me) who recently exhibited various Roman icons made out of pizza crust. As the Daily…

They are the majority of worshipers every Sunday (and through the week), and they make up some 80 percent of the more than 30,000 lay ministers (and growing fast) serving in the nation’s 19,000 parishes. There are more of them working in U.S. churches than there are priests. They distribute communion, raise the next generation…

Two refrains often lost amid the accolades for the papal visit is that the trip itself was, as Pope Benedict said, a chance for a new beginning, a first step, not the end of a process. The second refrain was the critical role of advocacy groups like Voice of the Faithful (VOTF)–as well as the…

Tim Reidy at America magazine, the flagship Jesuit weekly and a must-read for serious Catholics, had me over for a podcast about the pope’s trip, and it is now on-line at the magazine’s website. Whether it is a “must hear” is debatable. Listen in here…

Q: Did a pope really condemn Galileo for saying the Earth revolves around the Sun? Read more from the papal answer man, Chris Bellitto and his new book, 101 Questions on Popes and the Papacy.

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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