Buongiorno! Let’s start this morning’s roundup with the latest from Rome, where the Italians have a saying that’s always good to remember: “That which a pope can do, a pope can undo.” Hence:
Pope Francis cleans house at the Vatican Bank
Just before he resigned a year ago, Pope Benedict XVI reappointed five cardinals to five-year terms overseeing the scandal-plagued Vatican Bank. Now, 11 months later, Pope Francis has replaced four of them.
Bargain basement saints?
The ledger-clearing doesn’t stop there, as Francis has also ordered a “spending review” to cap the often prohibitive costs — except for the wealthy or well-connected — of saint-making, aka canonization. Dorothy Day might welcome the move, though I still think she’d rather see the money spent on the poor rather than her memory.
Clergy sex abuse: The Never-Ending Story
The pope’s emissaries at the U.N. in Geneva will face a grilling for the first time over the Vatican’s handling — or not — of clergy sex abuse cases. The Associated Press has a comprehensive look at what’s behind it, and what’s in store. Meanwhile, Chicago’s Cardinal Francis George is bracing for criticism as the archdiocese prepares to comply with a court order and release its clergy abuse files today. Wild guess: It won’t be pretty.
When a female Methodist pastor anoints a Roman Catholic cardinal
It happened in Massachusetts, at an ecumenical service with Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and the Rev. Anne Robertson. He asked her to include him in the holy water anointing, and she thought, “Wow.” And did it. Per the Patriot-Ledger: “What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him,” she said. “It was him being willing to accept that from my hand – to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that.”
Turn your church’s “cry-room” into the “judgment room”?
Andrew Kim has tried to understand the reactions of those “Janies” who get upset at the bleats and bodily eruptions of babies during worship services, but he’s kind of tired of them spending all their time focusing on their issues with kids, and he doesn’t want to be exiled into the “Catholic penalty box.”
(I)f one must have some special room for a select group to be singled out as different from the rest, and if one’s church already has a cry-room in its design, then perhaps one could just change the name of it to the judgment room. All the Janie’s of the world can go in there and seal themselves off from the distractions that vex them so. For the Janie’s are not fully involved in the Mass any way. They are too busy working up just the right combination of glare and sigh to express their frustration at whoever was rude and inconsiderate enough to bring their children to Mass that day.
Well, imagine the looks you’d get if they found out a newfangled womb transplant had produced that kid.
Speaking of ethical dilemmas…
As CNN reports, a New Mexico judge has ruled that terminally ill, mentally competent patients have the right to get a doctor’s help in ending their lives by having the doctor write a prescription for drugs that would kill them. Not quite euthanasia, but don’t expect that to quell the debate.
Survival of the Fittest?
Southern Baptist honcho Al Mohler takes on USA Today writer Tom Krattenmaker over evolution and belief:
There can be no doubt that evolution can be squared with belief in some deity, but not the God who revealed himself in the Bible, including the first chapters of Genesis.
Is the “High Church” the Christianity of the future?
Speaking of evolution, Gracy Olmstead says that Millennials are drawn to liturgy, which bodes well for the old-time churches:
The millennial generation is seeking a holistic, honest, yet mysterious truth that their current churches cannot provide. Where they search will have large implications for the future of Christianity. Protestant churches that want to preserve their youth membership may have to develop a greater openness toward the treasures of the past. One thing seems certain: this “sacramental yearning” will not go away.
American Evangelicalism as high school
More in this vein: Erik Parker, the “Millennial Pastor,” is helping real people through real life dramas and tragedies and is tired of watching Evangelicals waste all their time on arguments over “Duck Dynasty” and the like:
All Christians in North America, if they are paying attention, are forced to watch the Evangelical tribe as it rumbles and quakes about whatever is the issue of the day is. And I cannot help but see it all as some grandiose high school drama.
His dramatis personae are worth the read: “The Football Team,” e.g., and “The Rich Kids.”
Nigeria’s campaign against gays grows
Olmstead’s colleague at the American Conservative, Rod Dreher, stresses that as an Orthodox Christian he is no fan of same-sex relations, but he calls out the growing campaign against gays in Nigeria for what it is: “An abomination.” Rod writes:
I hope there are Christians in Nigeria who have the courage to hide gay men and women when the police come for them. I wouldn’t presume to speak for Islam, of course (Nigeria has a large Muslim population, in case you didn’t know), but to fellow Christians in Nigeria: Is this really how you witness to orthodox Christian truth? Really?
Ed West at the Catholic Herald weighs in too: “Nigeria’s new laws contravene Catholic teaching – and we should say so…”
The theology of Battlestar Galactica
Barrett Owen and his wife are on maternity leave and binge-watching “Battlestar Galactica.” He discovers the geeky joys of sci-fi theology that many of us may have forgotten:
When a planet is destroyed and 50,000 refugees take to roughly 10 star ships to conduct life, it’s easy to see why space becomes such an issue. In cramped, decaying quarters, the humans must find resolve and hope in an ancient, canonized prophecy that speaks of a promised land called Earth. They suffer insurmountable odds holding on to the hope of a better tomorrow. With this renewed faith, seemingly insignificant spaces become launching pads for holy encounters.
Take that, you Hobbit-lovers.
And the Best of the Rest from RNS:
- Top 12 pastor stunts: Living as an atheist is just the latest ministry gimmick;
- Tony Campolo to shutter the evangelical ministry he started 40 years ago;
- Kansas City rabbi grows a congregation of Latin American Jews;
- 5.3 billion people face harsh religious freedom restrictions;
- Kerry + Francis 4 Mideast Peace
And that’s it for now. Stay tuned to the site for the day’s latest news later in the day, and sign up for the daily religion news roundup in the box below — free, and easy.