A new week and already there’s tension in the air. President Obama and the new Congress are both in town (anything — or nothing — could happen). Ferguson, Mo., is on edge. Another American has been beheaded by ISIS.
But all is not grim. We also have a full slate of Pope Francis news, cool photos, and an electronic song that just makes me giggle.
If not today then soon we will know a Grand Jury’s decision on whether the Ferguson, Mo., police officer who allegedly shot unarmed teenager Michael Brown on August. 9 will stand trial. As the St.Louis Post Dispatch wrote this weekend: “Three months and nearly 350 arrests since they first took to the streets … activists here and across the nation are girding for round two.” Churches are preparing to open their doors as refuges if things turn violent — again.
A new video from Islamic State militants Sunday show the execution of aid worker, Peter Kassig, a former Army Ranger., who converted to Islam during his year of captivity. On Sunday, President Obama called the death of “Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter” … “an act of pure evil.”
News Flash: The Pope is Catholic
You’d think from the gnashing of teeth by traditionalists (whose teeth may be gnashed to powder during his pontificate) Pope Francis is/has been/will be dropping the ball on doctrine. Nope. Over the weekend, he condemned the right to die movement as a “sin against God,” and also ripped IVF and embryonic stem cell research.
Monday, he opened a special Vatican conference celebrating the complementary roles of men and women in marriage (no egalitarianism here) as endowed by God. It features guests presenters from 14 different religious traditions and 23 countries including two U.S. traditionalists — Pastor Rick Warren and the Rev. Russell Moore from the Southern Baptists’ Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission.
He also confirmed what has been reported about 8 bazillion times already: He will come to Philadelphia in Sept. 2015 for the World Meeting of Families. So,
I’m officially opening the unofficial RNS game of Where Else will He Go? My guesses:
- Boston — overdue for a papal visit and ratifying the efforts of Cardinal Sean O’Malley in addressing the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy/
- Washington — maybe chat up social justice with the new Congress.
- Somewhere on the SW border to highlight concern for immigrants.
Tell us where you think the pontiff might go and why.
Lastly, still shaking folks up. He has invited punk legend (and not Catholic) Patti Smith to join singing nun Sister Christina and others at the official Vatican Christmas Concert.
Top U.S. prelates were busy, too,
- Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston, told CBS News that the Vatican recognizes it must “urgently” take action on Kansas City Bishop Robert Finn, who failed to report a child-porn-viewing-priest to police. O’Malley also nodded agreement with the host who observed under the Catholic Church’s zero-tolerance policy, he wouldn’t let Finn even teach Sunday school in Boston.
- Bishop Blase Cupich, who will be installed at Chicago’s archbishop this week, was featured in an insightful profile in The Chicago Tribune. Manya Brachear Pashman notes his “…emphasis on social justice, his openness to change and the background he shares with his flock might explain his elevation” by a pope that Cupich has never met.
This could be a historic day for Anglicans in Britain. Today, the Church of England is expected to put enacting legislation behind its vote in July to allow female bishops. The first could be ordained in 2015.
- The Washington National Cathedral invited Muslims to hold Friday prayers in the landmark sanctuary last Friday (Nov. 14). See how it looked in our photo essay. Sadly, the service — praised by attendees — was briefly marred by a protester yelling that Muslim’s should leave churches alone.
- Muslims want to be part of America’s cultural narrative and that means recognizing Muslim Eid holy days with school days off, too, says commentator Hussein Rashid. It’s a touchy topic since a Washington DC suburb scrubbed the religious names off the winter and spring break calendars rather than add Eid al-Adha.
- David Gibson looks at the mixed message the Catholic Bishops have sent Pope Francis by naming some culture warriors among the delegates to the 2015 wrap-up session of the Synod on the Family.
- “True religious freedom won’t be accomplished by platitudes.” It takes a more comprehensive understanding, says Sarah Jones, in a guest column for Faitheist.
Hey, awe counts as a spiritual sensation, right? Here’s an awesome minute for you: Listen to a comet gurgling like an electronic “Flight of the Bumblebees” (and send thanks to the Rosetta space mission).