That giant sucking sound you hear is the world’s media legion decamping from Rome after the installation of Pope Francis … and heading to Israel, where Barack Obama has landed for his first trip to the Holy Land as president.
Obama cited the Bible on his arrival (the book, not the movie), saying that here, “sons of Abraham” and “daughters of Sarah” are fulfilling a “dream.” Does that include Muslims and Christians as well as Jews?
He even showed off the Hebrew no one knew he could speak: “Lihiyot shuv ba’aretz.” (What, you need a translation? H/T to the Forward: “It’s good to be back here in Israel.”
He won’t visit the Western Wall, security reasons they say. Some say he shouldn’t for other reasons.
Okay, wish we were still talking about the new pope? Our superb gallery of original photos from his installation is a good way to refresh your memory.
With Francis, hope springs anew this spring for Catholic “greens,” says Fr. Drew Christiansen.
And what about gays and lesbians? Our Blog Post of the Day: “Pope Francis, a pastor for gay Catholics?”
CORRECTION: All those who said the presence of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew was the first time the Orthodox leader has attended a papal installation (or enthronement, in days of olde) since the Great Schism of 1054 are likely wrong: it never happened before that either.
Francis wants “a poor church, for the poor.” How poor is the church now? Or at least the Vatican part of it? NCR’s John Allen makes a comparison:
The Vatican has an annual operating budget of under $300 million, while Harvard University, arguably the Vatican of elite secular opinion, has a budget of $3.7 billion, meaning it’s 10 times greater. The Vatican’s “patrimony,” what other institutions would call an endowment, is around $1 billion. In this case, Harvard’s ahead by a robust factor of 30, with an endowment of $30.7 billion.
The new pope has been getting some heat over his role during Argentina’s notorious “dirty war” of government-sponsored killings against perceived subversives – now add this to the mix: He gave the go-ahead to the process for canonizing some of the priests and other Catholics who were murdered.
He has confirmed that he will be traveling to Rio de Janeiro in July for World Youth Day. He used to tango. Time to samba?
Dr. Livingstone, we exhume: A missionary icon turns 200.
Clever Mormons: If you liked the musical of the “Book of Mormon,” they want you to try the book. (Paging the History channel.)
F. Scott Fitzgerald said there are no second acts in American lives, but he must have been on the Appalachian Trail when he wrote that. Former South Carolina governor Mark Sanford, on the other hand, may have found redemption and a path back to power via a congressional seat.
Sanford’s paramour, by the way, is Argentine – just like Pope Francis. Coincidence?
Interesting: Can the Supreme Court save Republicans from their gay marriage conundrum?
Why Lent can make us happier, according to the positive psychologists, not the pastors.
Good Big Read: Before he died last month, the renowned legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin sent The New York Review an excerpt of his new book, “Religion Without God.” Here’s how it starts:
“The familiar stark divide between people of religion and without religion is too crude. Many millions of people who count themselves atheists have convictions and experiences very like and just as profound as those that believers count as religious.”
Somehow this all ties together, but I’m too jet-lagged to figure it out. Put your email in the box below to receive the Religion News Roundup every morning and maybe we’ll have figured it out by tomorrow. No promises.