Roberto Clemente. Public domain image

Roberto Clemente. Public domain image

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

Can you guess what they are? Here’s the list, via The Tourist Choice. Not on the list — the Vatican. So much for the Francis Effect, eh. As our pal Alessandro Speciale says, “Weird.”

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?

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?

The debate is ramping up as a committee approved such a move. David Williams looks at what it’s all about. But hey, look who else is on board!

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.

David Gibson

Categories: Culture

David Gibson

David Gibson

David Gibson is a national reporter for RNS and an award-winning religion journalist, author and filmmaker. He has written several books on Catholic topics. His latest book is on biblical artifacts: "Finding Jesus: Faith. Fact. Forgery," which was also the basis of a popular CNN series.


  1. Regarding that article about Christian Rock: I can’t believe somebody wants to have this conversation now–this is an issue Christians were fighting about in the early ’80 s. And since it looks like rock has been eclipsed in popularity by hip-hop, the writer is arguing about whether Christians should appropriate someone else’s music whose heyday was years ago. Good grief. Far better to go create your OWN popular musical style from scratch! (Something Christians haven’t done well for a long time now . . .)

  2. Christian rock is pretty lame. Christians would be wise to ban it. A lot ofit seems to be merely imitating (somewhat woodenly) the gestures and stage stunts of rockers. Going through the motions.

  3. The most Christian states execute people all the time.

    Yet you will find Christians objecting to executions
    in small numbers, particularly those Christians who don’t know much about their Bible.

    1. Christianity supports irresponsible behavior because it supports unconditional forgiveness – this is immoral.

    2. Religion lulls people into an idea that there is more life after this one
    so there is a chance to do some things over. – This is immoral as there very likely is no afterlife and besides, the Bible describes an impossible situation where nobody could go to Heaven anyway.

    Religion is immoral from top to bottom and it brings out the worst in people.
    Atheism is much better. And more honest.

  4. RE: “So, what’s Yiddish for NSFW?”

    That image has been doing the rounds on circumcision advocacy and fetish sites (and the two overlap in many ways and are often difficult to distinguish) for years now.

    For those interested, please see the following link for a brief summary, with linked references, of the ethical, legal and methodological flaws with past research informing the present campaign of circumcision-as-HIV-preventative in Africa (which also inform much of the “renewed interest” in circumcision in the English-speaking world), some of the adverse consequences of funding circumcision-as-HIV-preventative in Africa (coercion of men and boys to be circumcised; misdirection of limited medical resources from higher priority areas) and the absence of oversight of organisations promoting and facilitating male circumcision in Africa:

  5. Clayton Winters

    Circumcision changes the brain. Circumcision changes psychology. How could it work as a meaningful religious or spiritual practice if it did not change psychology ? It could not. It should not take an advanced psychology degree to understand that maybe taking a vulnerable infant and restraining him helpless while the most sensitive part of his penis is cut, crushed, and torn away with radically insufficient (usually ZERO) pain relief at the time of his life when he is most impressionable and his only and every instinct is to form bonds of unconditional love in his mother’s embrace instead might not be the best thing for a child’s development. Jewish circumcision changes love for mother into fear of God on a fundamental pre-verbal biological level of infant bonding.

    Circumcising your child only makes sense if you want to ritually indoctrinate him by force into our male-dominated authoritarian sexually repressive fear-based culture of dominance and aggression at a time in his life when that ritual will have the greatest effect on his fragile and vulnerable young psyche. Circumcision belongs in the graveyard of history right along with foot-binding, animal sacrifice, and ritual cannibalism.

    You can read more about the psycho-social dark side of circumcision here:…/circumcision-identity-gender…

    As for the “medical benefits” -most of them are bunk but what if they are true ? I say “So what ?” Where else do we cut healthy babies as a preventive measure ? We don’t. We know better than to cut healthy babies before there is a problem just for prevention everywhere on their bodies except for baby penis. We still cut there. Why ? What makes baby penis special ?

    If we learned tomorrow that cutting baby vagina meant 10% fewer infections and small protection against HIV would we do it ? Would we start cutting baby vagina if somebody figured out that it really was cleaner ? Of course not. We know better than to cut baby vagina for that kind of reason. We know it takes better reasons than that to cut baby vagina. We know it is wrong to cut healthy baby vagina unless there is very severe medical emergency than can not be treated any other way. Why is baby penis different like that ?

    If I learned my daughter had BRCA1 and BRCA2 breast cancer genes like Angelina Jolie, I would be forbidden from getting her double mastectomy to reduce her breast cancer odds from 80% all the way down to zero. No reputable doctor would cut my daughter’s breast buds off unless she was eighteen and chose preventive mastectomy for herself. How come it is wrong to do preventive surgery on healthy daughter to change breast cancer chances from 80% all the way down to zero but we think it is a good idea to cut baby penis to barely change odds of minor UTI’s ? We know it is wrong to cut baby breasts to save them from breast cancer -even if the chance is 80%. How is cutting baby penis for tiny reduction in chance for minor infections easy to prevent (good diet, hygiene) and easy to treat without surgery (antibiotics) different in this way ?

    We do not have any weight control surgeries to perform on healthy babies to protect them from obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke (plus all kinds of other things linked to being overweight). If a doctor wanted to do liposuction or gastric bypass or even invent a new weight control surgery for babies to prevent obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and stroke -he would laughed at and probably lose his license and maybe go to jail. We know better than to cut baby fat unless the baby is already morbidly obese for those kinds of reasons. Why is cutting healthy baby penis before there is a problem different in this way ?

    Think think think and please wake up. We cut baby penis in America for no good reason. There is no good reason to cut healthy baby penis when there is no severe medical problem that cannot be cured any other way. Having foreskin is not a medical problem. Prevention ? That’s not a good enough reason to cut baby vagina. It’s not a good enough reason to cut baby breasts. It’s not a good enough reason to cut baby fat. It’s not a good enough reason to cut babies anywhere else on there bodies. It’s not a good enough reason to cut baby penis.

    Why is that so hard for Americans to understand ?

  6. Zulfiqar Malik

    Most religious sites visited numbers are very incorrect.
    The following article can give more accurate information:

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