Sister Mary Xavier Selway, Sister Mary Raphael, Sister Mary Jognes and Sister Antoinette Marie pose for an iconic Amtrak ad.

Sister Mary Xavier Selway, Sister Mary Raphael, Sister Mary Jognes and Sister Antoinette Marie pose for an iconic Amtrak ad. Photo via Amtrak's official blog

The Vatican said today that “Bishop Bling,” a.k.a. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, head of the German Diocese of Limburg, will be leaving his post for a while to spend more time with …

Well, no, that doesn’t work in this case. Basically, in the wake of the huge controversy over the bishop’s luxurious and costly renovations of his home and offices, Pope Francis told Tebartz-van Elst to take time off and make sure it is far away from Limburg. Where, we don’t yet know. Someplace nice, I suppose.

Francis appointed a new vicar-general to run the diocese while the church completes an investigation and presumably a final decision on the bishop’s fate is made.

Our own Cathy Grossman connects the dots:

The World Series starts tonight, between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Boston Red Sox, and St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson is betting Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley $100 that his Cardinals will beat the other cardinal’s Red Sox. Got it?

The money will go to Catholic Charities, which wins either way. CNN’s Eric Marrapodi is justifiably underwhelmed:

“Tikkun olam – and a mean slider.” Jewish fans have a Red Sox reliever to root for.

Hey, remember that adorable new Amtrak ad featuring four nuns in habits and suitcases getting ready to ride the rails? “Transporting over 31 million passengers and many, many Marys,” it reads.

Well, Rorate Caeli reports that the nuns are in fact members of a breakaway sect of traditionalist sisters, the Daughters of Mary Mother of Our Savior, who think the pope my not be legit, and not just the current one. Some Don Draper needed a religion writer.

The pope’s top doctrinal officer has thrown some cold water on hopes that church teaching that bars communion for divorced and remarried Catholics (without benefit of annulment) might be relaxed.

But the Vatican is expecting record crowds for the dual canonizations of John XXIII and John Paul II in April.

And speaking of crowd-pleasers, the Vatican daily has praised the Alfred Hitchcock classic “Vertigo,” though the reviewer doesn’t like the aggiornamento of the high-definition format in a recent re-release of the 1958 flick. (BTW, anyone know that Hitchcock was a Catholic?)

Not quite a segue, but those monks in Louisiana will be free to sell the handmade caskets they make after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from Louisiana funeral directors. And that’s a segue to the story of James Davis, the Alabama man who buried his wife in their front yard, as per her dying wish, while the town says that’s not legit. “I am not digging her up,” he tells the New York Times.

What do you think?

On to our Halloween roundup:

First up, in First Things, Timothy George eviscerates those “Hell House” displays some churches are putting on:

“It may be that some young people will find their way to genuine faith through such ghoulish shenanigans, but their overall import is a distortion of the Gospel. Those who indulge in such displays are taking something serious, eternal, and consequential and treating it with a finesse of a butcher doing brain surgery. In the process, they trivialize evil and domesticate grace.”

Second, also in First Things, Richard Mouw declares himself “ambivalent” over the evangelical opposition to Halloween that crops up this time of year:

“Part of me wants to tell my fellow Christians to lighten up a little, keeping the focus on a day when kids can have some fun. Given the present cultural realities, however, it is important to use the occasion to say some things to them about how Christ has overcome the powers of evil.”

Now for our Baptist roundup:

Dancing?! What’s next? Living with the poor! Oh, the Simple Way is doing that in Philly. Check out the latest in Shane Claiborne…

Boy, next thing you know the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary president will be speaking at Brigham Young University, the flagship Mormon school. Oh, Al Mohler did that this week.

The title of his talk: “A Clear and Present Danger: Religious Liberty, Marriage, and the Family in the Late Modern Age.” That’s common ground.

Robert Parham hasn’t converted to the Tea Party but does call out his fellow progressive Christians for having “a truncated moral agenda when it comes to economic debt.” And then he cites chapter and verse to back up his arguments. Interesting challenge.

The United Methodist Church’s Judicial Council gathers today in Baltimore and will face a growing rebellion by pastors opposed to the church’s policies against expanded roles for gays and lesbians.

Prince George, likely the future King of England, will be baptized today by Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby. Could the little prince start a trend?

In other trend news, support for marijuana legalization has reached a new high.

Has Facebook reached a new low? Not in its privacy settings, but in allowing gruesome videos

Finally, Pastor Kevin Swanson of Generations Radio is begging listeners not to buy Girl Scout cookies.

“I’d say you ought to say no the Girl Scout cookies too. I don’t want to support lesbianism, I don’t want to support Planned Parenthood and I don’t want to support abortion, and if that be the case I’m not buying Girl Scout cookies. “

He can’t mean the Thin Mints, though. Can he?

Be sure to sign up for the Daily Religion News Roundup below. Cheaper than Girl Scout cookies, and we’ll never ring your doorbell.

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.


  1. This Swanson guy is just another one of those religious fundalmentalist who believes most everything is sinful and those who do not believe as he does are going to “hell’. When I first heard of him and his exhortation to his followers to not buy Girl Scout cookies, I made a mental note to myself to be sure and buy multiple boxes of Girl Scout cookies. and one of those boxes will be one that is the most decadent, rich,sweet kind. I’m sure the Girl Scouts themselves would like to thank him for the free publicity. Perhaps he can go join the Phelps Klan and their hatred of everything and everyone not like them. Yeshua preached love, not hate. Tolerance and acceptance even if you don’t approve of a person’s lifestyle choices were also part of Jesus teachings. So, why is that so hard a concept to grasp for people like Swanson and Phelps? In a way I feel sad for them because they most probably learned that kind of hatred during their childhood.

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