Daily Links, March 23: Papal road trip, departed Catholics, and mistaken religious identity

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If you have tuned in to just about any news outlet today you've surely heard that Pope Benedict XVI is on the road, having embarked on a visit to Mexico and Cuba. On the way he spoke about his concern over drug violence in Mexico and Marxism in Cuba. Anthony Stevens-Arroyo puts those comments in context by looking at the political situation Pope Benedict will find on his trip. CNN takes a look at how Benedict will be received in Mexico, where Catholics are still devoted to John Paul II.

There's still a lot of talk about Rep. Paul Ryan's tax plan, which he argues would be a fair solution to the nation's budget troubles. The New York Times takes a closer look.

The Diocese of Trenton, New Jersey is interested in why former Catholics have left the church. So the diocese, with the help of Villanova University, conducted a study to find out exactly why people had left.

As the Philadelphia sex abuse trial draws closer, one accused priest has accepted a plea deal. That sparked a request for a new jury from Msgr. William Lynn, who faces criminal charges for failing to remove priests who sexually abused minors from ministry.

Here's that latest "religious freedom" argument: secular colleges and universities should be closed for religious holidays out of respect for people's beliefs. That sounds great, but as one of our commenters on Facebook pointed out, some schools have tried this approach and found "there would be very few days left to hold class if the schedule accomodated the religious holidays of all their students." 

And here's a story you don't see every day. A Catholic priest discovered something surprising about his past--he is actually Jewish. He was born into a Jewish family but his parents were killed in the Holocaust, and it wasn't until 12 years after his ordination as a Catholic priest that he learned this fact. After all the recent talk over whether you can be both Buddhist and Catholic, now we've found a priest who is both Jewish and Catholic.