Man and Woman Relaxing With Dog. Image by Nina Buday via Shutterstock

Man and Woman Relaxing With Dog. Image by Nina Buday via Shutterstock(Image source)

I think he’s finally done it. I think Pope Francis has managed to offend:

Pope: Pet-focused childless couples are selfish

Do not, the pope said, be one of those couples who lavishes love on dogs and cats instead of children. Oh dear. I do think the pope — who managed to make fast friends even across the lines dividing Israelis and the Palestinians last week — may finally have sparked some indignation. On Monday, as he celebrated Mass with 15 married couples, Francis criticized those who choose not to reproduce.

You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be carefree . . .  It might be better — more comfortable — to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or not? Have you seen it?

The moral counter argument from Erica Gies, written before the pope was pope.

Now let’s talk about birth control

The Obama administration’s contraception mandate, to be specific. A new poll says four in 10 Americans are good with this most controversial part of the Affordable Care Act. But more people are comfortable with the mandate when the field of those who must comply is narrowed to public and private corporations, such as Hobby Lobby. The Christian-owned business will get an answer from the Supreme Court this month on whether they get an exemption from the law.

Pope: And don’t rush the Catholic-Orthodox Summit

Some say a lovely year for such a gathering would be 2025, to mark the 1700th anniversary of the first church council held in Nicea in 325 A.D. But despite the warm meeting between Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew of Constantinople in Jerusalem just days ago, the Vatican says 2025 event has not been confirmed, writes our own Josephine McKenna.

The bearded father of the released POW

Even friends have raised questions about Robert Bergdahl, whose soldier-son was just released from the clutches of the Taliban. Bergdahl-the-Dad not only grew a Taliban-looking beard, but learned Pashto and also studied radical Islamic philosophy. Then there are the tunics and the loose pants. Friends say the conservative Presbyterian remains true to his Christian convictions. But they also say they felt moved to ask if he had crossed a line.

Dragging your infant down the aisle

A woman from Tennessee tied her one month old to her wedding dress train and dragged the kid down the aisle. Then she posted the photo on Facebook, provoking all kinds of outrage. Her response:

The answer is we do what we want when we want long as Jesus on our side everything worked out fine and gone continue to be fine.

Here’s the pic.

The Osteen empire expands

The Rev. Joel Osteen preaches to 40,000 at his Lakeland Church in Houston and broadcasts on Trinity TV. Now he gets his own channel on Sirius XM radio, which will air a call-in show Osteen will host with his wife Victoria, and replay his sermons. The channel will be in place to air Osteen’s sermon at Yankee Stadium on Saturday.

FBI: Terror suspect targeted returning U.S. soldiers, Shiites

Mufid Elfgeeh is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Yemen who used Twitter to praise al-Qaeda as the “true Muslims” and to vent his hatred for the U.S. Counter-terrorism agents said he planned to kill U.S. soldiers and Shiite Muslims in Rochester, N.Y., where he managed a convenience store.

Nine killled in church attack in Nigeria

Police are accusing Boko Haram of spraying a church service with gun fire in northeastern Nigeria, and then fleeing in a car and on motorcycles into the Gwoza hills, a stronghold of the militant Islamic group. In related news, the Nigerian government has banned some demonstrations by those frustrated that the more than 200 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram last month.


A biker gang is going to protect Maya Angelou’s funeral from Westboro Baptist Church protesters.

The Westboro Baptist Church has its own version of “Let It Go,” the song from Frozen that rails against gay marriage. I’m not including the link because I’ve given them too much attention already.

Ailing top 40 host Casey Kasem has been removed from his wife’s care. Her response was to throw raw meat at Kasem’s daughter, screaming something about “King David” and “to the dogs.” Anybody know what she’s talking about?

– Lauren Markoe

In tribute to Casey, those are the top religion news stories for today. Join us here for the countdown every weekday morning. Sign up for the free, spamless Religion News Roundup every day in your inbox.

Categories: Beliefs

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe

Lauren Markoe covered government and features as a daily newspaper reporter for 15 years before joining the Religion News Service staff as a national correspondent in 2011. She previously was Washington correspondent for The State (Columbia, S.C.)


  1. FYI :-)

    Dr. Gilead Sasson

    Department of Talmud, Center for Basic Jewish Studies, and Safed College

    There is a tradition that King David died on the holiday of Shavuot. The story of his demise appears in two different versions, one in the Babylonian Talmud, the other in Midrash Ruth Rabbah, which comes from the land of Israel. Below we shall try to explain the differences between the versions in light of the specific biases of the narrators.

    We find one version of the story in Tractate Shabbat, in the context of a sermon by Rabbi Tanhuma bar Abba. [1] Rabbi Tanhuma was asked if one may put out a lamp on the Sabbath in order to ease the plight of a sick person, on the grounds of piku’ah nefesh, i.e., a life-threatening situation. Taking advantage of this question, he embarks on a sermon dealing with the value of life and the attitude towards the departed. The text which he expounds is Ecclesiastes 9:4: “Even a live dog is better than a dead lion,” from which he proceeds to tell the story about King David’s death.

    The story has two parts: the first is a conversation between David and the Lord at some unknown point in time, in the course of which David attempts to find out details concerning the day of his death from the Almighty. The second part tells of King David’s death and Solomon’s behavior after his father’s passing. We are primarily interested in the second part of this story (Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 30a-b):

    Every Sabbath David used to sit and study the entire day. On the day that he was to die, the Angel of Death came to him but could not kill him, for his [David’s] mouth never ceased from his recitation. He [the Angel of Death] said: what shall I do to him? He [David] had a garden behind his house; so the Angel of Death came and made the trees rustle, and David came out to see. When David descended the stairs [to the garden] a step fell out from under him, he was silenced, and his soul departed. [2]

    Solomon sent to the Beit Midrash [asking]: My father has died [on the Sabbath] and is lying out in the sun, and the dogs of father’s house are hungry; what shall I do? They sent back [an answer]: cut up a carcass and place it before the dogs; as for your father, place a loaf of bread or a baby on him, and carry him away. Did not Solomon put it aptly: “Better a live dog than a dead lion”?

    The verse from Ecclesiastes says that a dead lion is of less value than a live dog, and the story about David’s death serves to confirm this verse. David is described as a Torah scholar who never ceased his studies, yet despite his greatness, after death he was like a dead lion, the dogs being more important than him. Confirmation of this claim is found in the laws of the Sabbath that prohibit handling a dead person, since after his soul has departed he is no longer a human being, but simply a useless vessel.

    The Carcass and the Corpse

    The rabbis of the Sanhedrin were sitting in the Beit Midrash and were addressed by Solomon with a halakhic question: what should he do with his father’s corpse, since there was a danger that hungry dogs would harm it? Solomon first asked concerning his deceased father, who was close to his heart, and afterwards about the dogs. The rabbis of the Sanhedrin, however, responded first about what to do with the dogs, and only afterwards about what he should do with David, thereby underscoring the message that the live dogs were more important than the dead king. Also the substance of their answer indicates preference to the dogs over David; he must see to feeding the dogs, and to this end one may cut up a carcass on the Sabbath. [3] The corpse, in contrast, is a carcass that may only be moved if it is made into a means for moving something else of which one has need. [4] Thus, the order of the answers and the ruling itself clarify the verse about the value of a live dog being greater than a dead lion.

    To sum up, according to the story in the Babylonian Talmud, a live person is superior to the dead since he can study the Torah and observe the commandments. [5] The story about King David dying on the Sabbath gives the Babylonian Talmud the opportunity to convey this message, founded on earlier sources (the Tosefta, the Mishnah, and a halakhic discussion in the gemara).

  2. Every public speaker should learn to parise something without knocking another. The worst rhetorical tropes – unless you mean to offend – are along the lines of comparisons. The pope should know this. Reserve negative comments for wrong doing and injustice. Of course this not apply to me, I’m just a silly old man, with no public function, so I can say stupid things, thank you very much.

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