Daily Beast: The Strange Science Behind Virgin Births

Turns out that nun who gave birth to a child named after the Pope is in good company in the long history of virgin births. Professor Candida Moss on all the strange excuses given when there’s no father.


Last week a nun in Italy gave birth to a baby boy after being rushed to hospital with stomach pains. She named the boy Francesco, or Francis, and nuns at her convent are said to be “very surprised” by the news. No one more so than the woman herself who remarked—in what could be a direct quote from the hit Discovery Channel TV show—“I didn’t know I was pregnant.” Still, while few details are available, she presumably knows how she got that way.

Full story here.

The pope and the president: What to look for in the Obama-Francis summit

From David Gibson’s piece: ‘Yet as Obama confronts Republican resistance on Capitol Hill, Francis is also facing strong headwinds from church conservatives and from the infamously sclerotic papal bureaucracy, the Roman Curia. He’s had to use the power of his message — and his considerable popularity — as much as his authority to try to turn around the Vatican. “Obama would be wise to talk politics with Francis,” Notre Dame’s Candida Moss wrote in Politico. “He might be able to pick up a few pointers.”’

POLITICO Magazine Cover Story: The Political Genius od Pope Francis

Late last year, when President Obama reviewed the draft of a speech he was scheduled to give on economic inequality, he sent it back with a request: He wanted his speechwriter to add a quote from Pope Francis’s recent letter to the Catholic church.
“Across the developed world, inequality has increased,” Obama said in the Dec. 4 speech. “Some of you may have seen just last week, the pope himself spoke about this at eloquent length. ‘How could it be,’ he wrote, ‘that it’s not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?’”
The rhetoric of quotation is subtle, but in this particular round of political name-checking, Francis is the authority brought in to lend credibility to Obama’s policies.

Read more

Pope Francis Names 19 New Cardinals

Pope Francis continues to shake up the Vatican establishment. Today, speaking from his studio window to followers in St. Peter’s square, he announced 19 new cardinals from some surprising places, the AP reports.

Francis did not name any cardinals from the United States and chose instead to represent poorer nations. Sixteen of the Cardinals are younger than 80 and will likely be eligible to vote for the next pope. Among them are archbishops from the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, Chile and Haiti.

Candida Moss, who’s a professor of theology at Notre Dame, says in the past, this group would have provoked “amazement and speculation.”

Read and listen to the story (with my interview) here