Benedictions: The Pope in America

Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) – April 17, 2008 Washington (dpa) – Pope Benedict XVI greeted leaders of other faiths in the United States in a meeting Thursday in Washington, continuing the interfaith contacts that have not always gone well in the first three years of his papacy. While declaring his intention to build on the work…

Benedict XVI has earned headlines and goodwill on this, his first visit as pope to the United States, by speaking out repeatedly about his anguish over the clergy sexual abuse scandal and yesterday meeting with a small group of abuse victims. The pope on Wednesday also told the American bishops at a meeting that some…

Below is the text of the pope’s speech to the U.N. just concluded. As expected, he’s a “natural” lawyer, and made the case very well. Also check out the CNS story.

In today’s Wall Street Journal I have a column on a thread that is increasingly emerging from the pope’s talks during this visit–namely, the need to recreate a new kind of Catholic culture, while at the same time not creating merely “cultural Catholics.” Not an easy one. Read more…

I saw this shot in Christianity Today recently, and couldn’t pass up a chance to post it. Yes, this blog is about Catholicism. But the pontiff took time out to say “Good yontif,” so we should as well. It’s a Google Earth perspective doctored to give us a new perspective on the age-old Exodus story–one…

It’s been a busy day, so let’s relax with some really useful trivia: Q: I’m confused when I hear “the Vatican,” “the Holy See,” and “Vatican City.” Are they all the same thing? Read more from the papal answer man, Chris Bellitto and his new book, 101 Questions on Popes and the Papacy.

So the pope’s surprise meeting with victims capped, and likely dominates, an intense and productive day for Benedict–and those following the visit. Interestingly, the expected priorities (or at least mine, and those of many others observers) did not pan out as expected. The mass at the stadium was the great outpouring, and also marked by…

Here is Benedict’s address to representatives of other religions:

Here is the Pope’s message to the Jewish community on the eve of Passover:

Check out Michael Paulson’s piece in the Boston Globe.

David Gibson

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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