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

How Santa Hurts Christmas

Yes, it’s true, but Mr. Claus is just about the worst thing to happen to Christianity. We make kids believe in a fat man who hands out gifts unfairly and makes out with mom, and then ask them to believe in Jesus. Right.


Santa is a fixture in a fixture in holiday calendars, at malls, and on lawns across suburbia. But who is Santa really, and does he embody “the spirit of the Holiday” of consumer Christmas?

Read more here

 

POLITICO: What TIME Magazine Got Wrong About Pope Francis

Wednesday’s announcement of Pope Francis as Time magazine’s “Person of the Year” came as small surprise to anyone watching events in the Catholic Church over the past year. This pontiff is a media darling. His charismatic and photo-op friendly ministry has won the hearts and minds of both the Catholic faithful and, clearly, the global press. Time’s editors couldn’t be more correct when they declare that Pope Francis has changed the “tone and perception” of the Catholic Church.
But do they really understand him?

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/12/time-magazine-pope-francis-got-wrong-101057.html#ixzz2z04wNr8Q

CBS News: Why Pope Francis is TIME Magazine Person of the Year

 

CHICAGO — Popes have quite a few titles. Francis is also – among other things – Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Christ and Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church.
On Wednesday, he got one more: Time magazine named him Person of the Year, saying his message of compassion and humility had captured the imagination of millions.

Watch video here

In the Green Room Profile

Candida5University of Notre Dame theologian Candida Moss specializes in Bible studies and early Christian history and is the author most recently of The Myth of Persecution: How Early Christians Invented a Story of Martyrdom. Before participating in a panel on why we need saints, she talked about her suspicions involving a conspiracy to oppress cold caffeine drinkers and what it’s like to read The Great Gatsby for the first time as an adult.

Read more of the profile on me here

Daily Beast: Sarah Palin is Here to Save Christmas

.Our favorite Alaskan wants to rescue the holiday from angry atheists and liberal do-gooders, but what exactly does she have in mind? There’s scant talk of the Bible in her book.

The war on Christmas comes but once an election cycle, and with Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas Sarah Palin, the former governor of Alaska, fires the first shot. The volume is part call to arms against the “Scrooges” secularizing Christmas, part theological statement about the meaning of Jesus’s birth, and part recipe book.

Read more here

Daily Beast: Run with the Devil

A high school student refused to compete with the bib number 666 because it’s the sign of the Beast. But is it? And just how can one run with God?


It sounds like a Disney version of Chariots of Fire. Kentucky high school student Codie Thacker made waves this week by refusing to compete in a cross-country race with the assigned bib number 666. As religious devotees, horror movie buffs, and Iron Maiden fans know, that’s what the Biblical book of Revelation calls the “number of the Beast.” Her coach tried without success to secure another number for the 16-year-old, but in the end Thacker nobly withdrew on religious grounds because, as she puts it, “I didn’t want to risk my relationship with God.”

Read more here