With his new 25,000-word encyclical, "Mater et Magistra”, Pope John XXIII  joined two other pontiffs whose encyclicals on social problems constitute the greatest documents of their kind in the modern history of the church. Religion News Service file photo

With his new 25,000-word encyclical, “Mater et Magistra”, Pope John XXIII joined two other pontiffs whose encyclicals on social problems constitute the greatest documents of their kind in the modern history of the church. Religion News Service file photo

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So what exactly did Pope Francis tell the woman in Argentina who said her parish priest barred her from communion because she wasn’t married in the church? We have the latest here with the Vatican confirming the call but tossing cold water on the woman’s recounting of it all.

One thing Francis did say this morning: there are “bat-like Christians” who “prefer the shadows to the light of the Lord’s presence.” Nobody can resist the vampire theme these days, it seems. That’s a good one, though, pontifex.

Now, more from Rome and the rest of the religion news:

All popes, all the time

With the unprecedented dual canonizations of John Paul II and John XXIII set for Sunday, speculation is focusing on whether retired Pope Benedict XVI will make it a papal foursome with Francis or be a party poper, so to speak:

Meanwhile, NCR’s Josh McElwee passes along a report that Paul VI will be beatified — the penultimate step to sainthood — in July. So, like, what’s up with all the pope-saints after a millennium when we hardly had any? Here’s my answer.

And Peter Smith of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the Headline of the Day:

“Pope John Paul II leaves legacy as sex educator”

Not everyone is ecstatic about the canonizations

It’s not just MoDo at the NYT who is down on JP2. Vandals in John Paul’s own hometown went and defaced a memorial to him. Prophet in his own country, as they say. But a lot of people are using this occasion to express their criticisms of John Paul, or just note that they have canonization fatigue. The Rev. Jim Martin knows how you feel, but says we still need saints.

Not just Popes: Nuns get their own reality TV show

As if the investigation by the Vatican hasn’t been drama enough, Lifetime has greenlighted a reality show that will follow five women as they discern whether or not to go the distance and take vows. No location or convent for “The Sisterhood” has been firmed up yet, so how this will come off remains to be seen. “The Sisterhood” comes from Hot Snakes Media, which brought you “Breaking the Faith” and “Breaking Amish.”

Not just Nuns: Is Jesus a “Top Chef”?

An Italian priest thinks so. Catholic News Service has the story of the book, “La Cucina del Risorto” (The Cooking of the Risen One), by the Rev. Giovanni Cesare Pagazzi, an Italian theologian. Editrice Missionaria Italiana, the book publisher, describes it as a “small evangelical guide” to the relationship between Christ and cooking based on the premise that “Jesus knew how to cook, practiced the culinary arts, and knew its secrets and traditions.”

New Hampshire priest gets four years, sins on display

“Breaking Bad” is more like it for Msgr. Edward J. Arsenault III, the priest who once ran St. Luke’s, a facility for clerics with addiction and sexual problems. Turns out that Arsenault had plenty of his own issues, and as he was sentenced to four years in prison this week for stealing lots of money prosecutors also revealed the seamier side of his personal life.

Meanwhile in Michigan, a former pastor and parish manager have been charged with stealing $700,000 in church funds.

Victims advocates turns sights on Southern Baptist leader

SNAP, the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, has been known chiefly for trying to force the Catholic Church to come clean on abuse among clergy. Now the group is taking aim at the SBC, and in particular is asking former SBC head Frank Page to apologize for his “hurtful comment” in 2007 when he wrote that their group was “nothing more than opportunistic persons motivated by personal gain.” SNAP also wants to address the Southern Baptist Convention when delegates meet in Baltimore this summer.

A report on the Southern Baptist “sex summit”…

And in other news, Ruth Graham has all you need to know about the Southern Baptist leaders talking sex (and a bit about the abuse crisis) at their meeting this week — in Nashville, of course.

Three American medics at Christian-run Afghan hospital killed

Breaking news out of Afghanistan, where an Afghan security official opened fire Thursday at an American-run Christian hospital in Kabul, killing three medical personnel. The hospital, CURE, is part of an international network of hospitals run by a Pennsylvania charity. The hospital largely focuses on providing medical care to needy children, the WaPo reports.

Five Hasidic Jews charged with beating a gay black man

Yes, you read that right. The five say they were part of a neighborhood watch group that was stopping a guy they caught vandalizing. The cops aren’t buying that story, though prosecutors say they can’t charge the five with a hate crime. The neighborhood watch group is distancing itself from the suspects.

Is economic injustice the cause that saves the Religious Left?

Pivoting off of a new Brookings report, the Washington Post’s Michelle Boorstein asks a great question and delivers a fine story in this morning’s must-read category: “There’s a strong case that the current moment looks far more like the era leading up to civil rights activism than to the period that ushered in the religious right,” the report says.

Cedarville University shutters an “underground” student newspaper

The fact that a Christian campus has an underground press may be an indication of preexisting conditions, but Warren Throckmorton is “sad to hear about this and about the drift to the far right which seems to be gripping the school.”

Tweet of the Day

Via our pal Ed Stezter:

Interesting. Thoughts?

That’s all for now. Stay tuned to these pages for the latest. Peace.

PS: I just realized that it’s “Take Your Child to Work Day.” Or rather my daughter reminded me and said she didn’t need to go to school. But really, is what I do work? Is the way I do it instructive? Don’t answer.

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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