A green parrot cartoon illustration

A green parrot, courtesy Shutterstock. courtesy Shutterstock

We begin with the ongoing saga of The Pope and the Birds, take IX:

After his dove release went terribly awry, Francis blessed and held a green parrot named Amore that was offered to him by his owner. Yes, the bird parroted the word “Papa.”

More from the Vatican: One of the earliest Christian cemeteries near St. Peter’s Square has been painstakingly excavated and will open to the public offering glimpses of ancient burial traditions.

Elsewhere in Catholic news: Archbishop Joachim Meisner of Cologne, a German cardinal, was roundly criticized by Muslims when he was caught saying this to members of a conservative Catholic group: “I always say, one of your families to me makes up for three Muslim families.”

This is what you learn from reading RNS’ international news: More than 90 percent of Irish primary schools are run by the Roman Catholic Church in cooperation with the government. Now some atheists, and probably those of other faiths, want to change that.

In South Sudan, church leaders are urging all parties to the conflict to respect places of worship, after rebels attacked and looted church compounds in the town of Malakal.

Could Noah’s Ark have been round? A newly decoded cuneiform found in Iraq tells of a divinely sent flood and a sole survivor who takes all the animals onto an ark to preserve them. Except the ark is round.

Israelis in a lather:  An  affair between Yair Netanyahu, son of Prime Minister Benjamin, and Sandra Leikanger, a blond Norwegian, is giving rabbis heartburn because the girl is …gasp!… not Jewish. Self-appointed Tevyes are shouting, “Tradition! Tradition!”

But how bad can it be if French choreographer Benjamin Millepied, the husband of Jewish actress Natalie Portman, is converting to Judaism?

Also in Israel, at a time when prominent rabbis have voiced vehement objections to young Orthodox women enlisting in the army, the Israeli Defense Forces reports that the number of religious females electing to enlist is higher than ever.

Taiwan is leading a quiet, yet powerful movement that has turned traditional Buddhism on its head, converting many Buddhists into doers, not just believers. Going to temples is low priority. The focus now is on what the Taiwanese call “humanistic Buddhism” — caring for others and for society.

Back on these shores: In Scottsdale, Ariz., the Rev. Bob Larson is giving possessed people the option of having their demons banished from their bodies via Skype. A 60-minute Skype exorcism costs $295.

The nation’s top brass say they’re not aware of any bias against military chaplains, countering charges from some activists that chaplains have been muzzled or forced to follow policies they disagree with.

The Oscar nomination for original song from the movie “Alone Yet Not Alone,” performed by evangelical Christian author and singer Joni Eareckson Tada, was rescinded Wednesday. It seems that Bruce Broughton who wrote the music promoted the song giving “the appearance of an unfair advantage.”

And more on Oscar nominees: Actress Scarlett Johansson has quit her ambassador role with the humanitarian group Oxfam following criticism over her decision to star in an advertising campaign for SodaStream, the fizzy drinks company which owns a factory in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. Oxfam opposes all trade in goods produced by Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories.

Good reads: Pakistan’s blasphemy law is increasingly becoming a potent weapon in the arsenal of Muslim extremists. Although Pakistan has never executed anybody under the law, vigilantes frequently entrap and sometimes kill adherents of minority religions accused of blasphemy.

The New Yorker takes a look at the ongoing rebellion among United Methodist pastors over gay and lesbian inclusion.

Anne Lamott on her reading habits: The writer says she reads an excerpt from theologian Fred Buechner every day. “He has been a very important theologian in my life—so authentic, fresh, human, funny, honest, and so deeply in love with God. And every Thursday I rush to the grocery store for the new People magazine.”

You don’t have to rush to the grocery store to get the Roundup: Just click below and read it in your jammies.


  1. I am a Messianic Jewish Rabbi which means that I believe Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah of the Jewish people and savior of the nations. (I am also a lawyer as well.) I found your article on Netanyahu’s son to be offensive and lacking understanding as to why Jewish people would be upset about intermarriage. We have couples of both backgrounds (Jewish and Christian) who are welcomed in our congregation and make no distinction between them and couples who are both Jewish. But that people are upset is not news because you could have the same reaction in Catholic, Muslim or even Baptist families. So your “gasp” is inappropriate and will be used by anti-Semites as just another example of how weird Jews are. Lighten up on those who strongly hold their family values even if they may be exaggerated to some or many. My two shekels. David

  2. I think Yonat was just summarizing what’s appeared in the press. Her “gasp!” is very mellow compared to what I read. (Apparently Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now denying his son is dating a non-Jewish Norwegian woman.) But here’s the reaction covered by Haaretz:

    Shas leader Aryeh Deri told an ultra-Orthodox radio station, Kol Barama, that if true [that both are indeed dating], Netanyahu and wife Sara would experience “great heartache.”

    Deri said the criticism was not an attack against the premier, but rather an issue of national concern. “I try not to raise personal criticism, but if, heaven forbid, this is true, it is no longer a personal matter – it is a symbol of the Jewish people.”

    The Shas leader went on to describe the great efforts being made to prevent assimilation, saying, “I have friends who invest tens of millions, hundreds of millions to fight assimilation throughout the world. If, heaven forbid, this is true, woe is us. I hope it is not true….”

    Other religious politicians came out against the reported relationship, including hardline Likud MK Moshe Feiglin and other members of Shas.

    The Israeli organization Lehava, which says it aims “to prevent assimilation in the Holy Land,” urged Netanyahu on its Facebook page “to prevent this relationship,” AFP reported.

    Whether these people can represent the majority of Jewish people is another matter, but Yonat never said they did. As a writer, I have come across many Jewish congregations in the US that advocate a similar teaching. It’s understandable; in Israel, however, such reactions are to be expected.

  3. As is frequently the case, there is more to this story. Seems that the movie involves many folks involved with the defunct Vision Forum and its disgraced leader Doug Phillips. Mr. Phillips has issues with marital fidelity, amongst others. Mr. Phillips apparently had a role in the film until edited out after his misadventures were “exposed”. You can read more about these connections at: http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/alone-yet-not-alone-the-tangled-web-of-the-academy-nomination/
    and connections to the Dominionist movement here: http://jensgems.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/alone-yet-not-alone-the-tangled-web-of-the-academy-nomination/

  4. “More than 90 percent of Irish primary schools are run by the Roman Catholic Church in cooperation with the government.”

    A perfect captive audience for indoctrination. Here’s a page from an old Irish Catholic school book.


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