pope francis

Pope Francis waves from the pope-mobile during his inauguration Mass at St. Peter’s Square on Tuesday (March 19) at the Vatican. RNS photo by Andrea Sabbadini

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The human pastoral quote machine known as Pope Francis was at again today, and at his weekly public audience – which coincides with World Environment Day – he took the message of ecology and waste of every kind to the house:

“A person dying is not news, but if the stock markets drop ten points it is a tragedy! Thus people are disposed of, as if they were trash.”

And pow:

“We should all remember … that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, the hungry!”

People are loving it, so it’s perhaps no surprise that Timothy George says Francis is a Pope for Evangelicals, too! (Question: Do Evangelicals need one?)

Ohio State needs a new president since Gordon Gee’s snarky comments about Catholics seem to have been the last straw. The WaPo’s Liz Tenety wonders if this means you can’t joke about faith anymore. (Which would leave us religion writers with a lot of time to fill.)

Ohio Catholics may be cheering Gee’s departure, but they have to be in mourning over the exit of the woman formerly known as Sister Mary Assumpta, who was a habited fixture at Cleveland Indians games. She is leaving religious life and going to Oregon to minister to the dying. It was, as the Plain Dealer wrote, “a free-agent move no one saw coming, least of all her.”

“God is calling me to live my spiritual life in a different way,” said Maryhelen Zabas, who for all of her adult life was known as Sister Mary Assumpta. “God works in strange ways. My whole life has been spiritually led, and I wouldn’t be true to myself if I didn’t follow the spirit.”

So a nun and a bishop walk into a UCC church to debate gay marriage, and it’s no joke. In fact, some in the audience seemed kind of angry when Bishop Paprocki blamed the “gay activist lobby” for everything.

Should Robert P. George be a U.S. Senator? There is a Twitter campaign (so it must be serious) to have New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie name the conservative Princeton prof and leading Catholic culture warrior as an interim replacement until an election can be held in October to fill the vacancy left by Frank Lautenberg’s death.

It would certainly make the Senate more interesting. But don’t hold your breath. I’m from Jersey. I can say that.

Buzzfeed has a fascinating look into a schism that has divided “America’s Most Conservative, Most Christian Political Consulting Firm.” Writer McKay Coppins calls it “a bitter dispute that is, at its heart, over what it means to be truly Christian in American politics.”

Here’s what it means to be Mayor of Vero Beach in Florida: it means you can snub “Humanist Recognition Week” and “refuse to support any organization that does not believe in Jesus Christ,” as Craig Fletcher told the city council.

While we are on the topic, Missouri’s governor vetoed an anti-Shariah bill on the grounds that it could impede couples from adopting children from abroad. That allowed Gov. Jay Nixon to avoid making the argument that the bill is nonsensical.

Southern Baptists meet next week for their annual convention and First Things has a good primer on the SBC. (They left out the part about having a Pope.)

Since that Southern Baptist Convention is in Texas, the delegates may want to download a handy new app called “Texas Bible” that replaces “you” with “y’all.” As in:

“Do y’all not know that y’all are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in y’all?” (1 Cor. 3:16, if you didn’t recognize it right off.)

Speaking of Texas, is another Kermit Gosnell abortion case brewing in the Lone Star state? Jonathan Merritt explores.

Another reason to back immigration reform: religious groups are caught in an absurd Catch-22 (redundancy?) when trying to hire non-citizens, which happens pretty frequently. Mark Silk is on the case.

I finally caught the notorious recent episode of “Game of Thrones,” you know the one they call “Red Wedding.” As if that doesn’t give it away. My story pondered whether Christians can watch the show without losing their souls. Now I wonder if anyone can watch without losing their lunch. But, yes, there is something redeeming in there. I think.

Jewish federations in North America want Israel to provide a place for women to pray at the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

A 100 students from Brooklyn Yeshiva just wanted to get to Atlanta but were kicked off an AirTran flight because they wouldn’t turn off their phones or get in their seats so the plane could leave. And you knew what came next:

“They treated us like we were terrorists,” one student told CNN. “I think if it was a group of non-religious kids, the air stewardess wouldn’t have dared to kick them off.”

Rob Bell said a bad word. Good thing there’s no hell, right?

Atheists are starting a toll-free, 24-hour hotline for religious doubters to ask their tough questions anonymously. Gee, I wonder what kind of answers they’ll get…

Two final notes:

Read the obituary of the Rev. Will D. Campbell, a renegade preacher and civil rights activist – an amazing life, as the NY Times writes:

“A civil rights advocate who drank whiskey with Klansmen, a writer who layered fact and fiction, and a preacher without a church who presided at weddings, baptisms and funerals in homes, hospitals and graveyards for a flock of like-minded rebels that included Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Dick Gregory, Jules Feiffer and Studs Terkel.”

And be sure and read Adelle Banks’ conversation with former Southern Baptist chief Frank Page about the suicide of his daughter, which Page discusses in an affecting new book.

Keep calm, and carry on.

David Gibson

Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He is a national reporter for RNS and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI.


    • Can someone make any sense of anything in Northern California? Isn’t it psychosis when they have no sense of reality? But if they are all psychotic then isn’t that a “bell curve” norm. Their malady became their reality.

  1. Sure you can have faith, just don’t try to force it on anyone like the Vero Beach Mayor is doing. The Pope stills seems to be reaching out instead of pushing away as more than some would have him do. Like it, so far.

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