Good morning, and welcome to the latest in religion news from around the world. We begin with a puzzler:
Five Most Visited Religious Sites in the World
Will Pope Francis visit the U.S. wall against immigrants?
Reports in the Mexican press say that Francis is weighing a visit to the steel fence the U.S. erected along the Arizona border to keep out immigrants and drug smugglers — an event that would be reminiscent of his stop last month at the security wall that Israel built to separate it from the Palestinian territories. U.S. Catholic leaders celebrated Mass at the border in Nogales in April on behalf of immigration reform. The pope’s visit would come during his expected September 2015 trip to the U.S.
Catholic bishops and Shia Muslim leaders in Iran sign accord against nukes
We just profiled Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a globe-trotting fixer for the church even as he nears 84, and here’s more evidence of his work: the retired archbishop of Washington and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines came back from a trip to Tehran to meet with Islamic leaders with an important statement against weapons of mass destruction:
“Shia Islam opposes and forbids the production, stockpiling, use and threat to use weapons of mass destruction. Catholicism is also working for a world without weapons of mass destruction and calls on all nations to rid themselves of these indiscriminate weapons.”
Okay, but are the Sunnis in Iraq listening?
Did Fulton Sheen resurrect a dead baby?
A panel of experts at the Vatican has said that a baby born dead and brought back to life after 61 minutes — and after prayers to the late Archbishop Fulton Sheen to intercede with God — could be a legit miracle that might pave the road to Sheen’s beatification.
Is baseball star Roberto Clemente a saint?
Our own Heather Adams reports on the canonization effort for the Pittsburgh Pirates great who died in 1972 while on a mission to deliver relief aid to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. Did he have a healing touch even greater than his skills in the field?
Comedian getting his kids to church. Hilarious? Familiar?
Comedian Jim Gaffigan, a Catholic who lives with his wife and five kids in a fifth-floor walkup (yeah, both those numbers are correct) in the Bowery, recounts his Sunday routine to the New York Times:
“We try and get them out the door and bring stuff for them to do at church. Church is the last thing that a kid wants to do, sitting quietly and listening to a guy talking about metaphors, so getting them motivated to do that is a pretty big task.”
Is the March for Marriage hateful or wonderful?
San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and his critics trade charges of judgmentalism over the demonstration tomorrow in Washington against gay marriage. Here’s hoping they get beyond the “I-know-you-are-but-what-am-I?” stage of debate.
So, Yiddish can cause a mistrial …
Who knew? Defense attorneys for New York State Senator Malcolm Smith, who is accused of trying to buy his way onto the 2013 Republican mayoral ticket for NYC, that’s who. Apart from why anyone would want to be on that ticket, there was the issue of dozens of hours of secret recording by a government witness — in Yiddish. The judge couldn’t wait for them to be translated to see if there was an incriminating or exculpatory evidence, so … mistrial.
So, what’s Yiddish for NSFW?
— Open Culture (@openculture) June 17, 2014
So, Jerusalem has a beach …
No, it’s not because of globe-warming. And yes, ultra-Orthodox Jews are not happy.
Executions are back on …
After a hiatus following a botched execution in April, states have started carrying out the death penalty again. Georgia and Missouri killed convicted murderers last night, and Florida will execute another convicted killer tonight.
Can Christians rock?
That’s the other existential question of the day, posed by Nathaniel Givens at RealClearReligion:
“The problem, of course, is that for much of its history Christianity has occupied the role of ‘the keepers of the sacred.’ So this would preclude any possibility of Christian rock, right?”
Maybe not so simple. There’s more …
Will Presbyterians divest from Israel?
— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) June 18, 2014
Heritage’s history with Islam
The Heritage Foundation has been at the center of a debate over whether a recent panel on Benghazi descended into “ugly taunting” of Muslims or whether it was just ordinary bullying. Thomas Berg at Mirror of Justice writes that the conservative think tank has a longstanding problem, and once asked him to be on a panel on Islam and religious liberty — until he said great, because Islam can be a partner in promoting religious freedom:
“The staff member who had conveyed the invitation called back the next day and said that wasn’t what her supervisors had in mind: they really wanted only talks about how Islam threatened religious liberty.”
Americans earning more, but not giving it away — yet
That’s the upshot of a new report from Giving USA, as explained by our own Lauren Markoe.
And that’s it for now. Stay tuned to this space for the latest throughout the day.