The Arab Spring is turning into a very hot summer for the Muslim Brotherhood as millions turned out in massive demonstrations in Egypt against President Mohamed Morsi, who a year ago became the country’s first democratically-elected leader.

Several people have been killed in clashes, but the death of American student Andrew Pochter is hitting home here – a young man inspired by his Jewish values to help build democracy in the Middle East. He was teaching young kids English in Alexandria.

Secretary Of State John Kerry is making the biggest push in years to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and claims progress. We’ll see.

An Israeli is under arrest for the vandalism of a Christian monastery in the occupied West Bank last year.

The Vatican confirmed that a Franciscan priest in Syria had been killed a week ago during an attack on a monastery by rebels. But church officials in Syria say Father Francois Mourad was not one of those beheaded on a video that has been making the rounds on the Internet.

The Vatican on Friday will release Pope Francis’ first encyclical, which is generally considered a foundational statement for what we can expect from the new papacy. But this encyclical, titled “The Light of Faith,” is really a completion of an encyclical that Pope Benedict XVI was writing when he resigned in February.

Francis himself has called it a “work of four hands,” and he’s probably glad for the help as he’s not much interested in making grand theological pronouncements. We shall see.

Speaking of following Benedict’s example, Francis has cited his predecessor’s controversial decision to resign as an example of “courage” in following one’s conscience. Does this mean Francis could one day take that same route? Not too soon, please – we are still recovering from the March conclave.

The pope also has his work cut out trying to clean up the Vatican bank and monsignors caught trying to launder piles of cash.

“Prepare to be shocked.” That is Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki’s warning to Catholics ahead of today’s anticipated release of thousands of pages of personnel files and depositions on cases of priests who abused children.

Headlines you don’t see every day: “A divorced father of two becomes Seattle’s newest priest.”

The Rev. Matt Malone, editor of American magazine, the prominent Jesuit weekly, is still generating buzz for barring the terms “liberal” and “conservative” from its pages – at least when it comes to describing Catholics.

Wherein I tweak Father Matt: Conservative Catholics don’t seem to like the Obama administrations final rules on the contraception insurance mandate, and liberal Catholics can find reason to cheer now that donations to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development are rebounding.

That Texas abortion bill filibuster by Wendy Davis was no Alamo for abortion opponents. State lawmakers are back in session to try to pass the ban again.

At Religion Dispatches, Christine Wicker thinks Davis’ 13-hour talking marathon was “like a prayer.” Discuss.

Cross words: The Tribune Media Syndicate is apologizing for using “Shylock” as a clue for the word “Jew” in a crossword puzzle distributed to Sunday papers around the country. Well, now we’ve got a new answer for the clue “stupid.”

Christopher Eisgruber, who becomes Princeton’s president today, was born Catholic, married Episcopal, and became “non-theist.” Now he’s discovered his family is actually Jewish.

Phil Robertson, camo-clad patriarch of A&E’s smash hit reality show, “Duck Dynasty,” is out with a new book and one that talks about his Christian vocation, not his duck calling. Keeper quote:

“I know I might look like a preacher, but I’m not. Here’s how you can tell whether someone’s a preacher or not: if he gets up and says some words and passes a hat for you to put money in, that’s a preacher. This is free. This is free of charge, which proves I’m not a preacher.”

Actually, Phil doesn’t look like too many evangelical preachers I know – that’s too bad, I think.

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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.

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