Weekly roundup: World Youth Day, King David's castle, and the Queen of England

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Last week, due to technical difficulties, we were unable to post the Weekly roundup. But have no fear. We have returned. This is what you missed this week.

Things are gearing up for World Youth Day, being held in Rio de Janeiro next week. Delegates from all over the world are preparing to make the pilgrimage. Pope Francis himself is preparing for his trip, in which he will encounter a church in crisis.

For those who cannot make the trip, the Vatican has offered ways to participate vicariously in the proceedings. But some news outlets got a bit ahead of themselves when they claimed that we could cut down time in purgatory simply by following the pope on Twitter during World Youth Day events. Kevin Eckstrom at RNS gives his explanation and analysis tweet-style.

Archeologists have uncovered what they think could be King David's fortress city. The site of the biblical battle between David and Goliath is now called Khirbet Qeiyifa. It was likely decimated in 980 B.C. during a battle with the Philistines, the Jerusalem Post reports.

A report from the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution shows that Americans are pretty divided when it comes to what it means to be religious. According to the report, about 60 percent of Americans think that being religious is primarily about living a good life. About a third of those surveyed believe that religion is primarily about right belief or matters of faith.

The Queen of England approved a bill allowing same-sex civil marriages in England and Wales, making those the 16th and 17th countries to recognize same-sex marriages. No religious institution will be forced to carry out same-sex services, and the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishops' Conference of England has, of course, voiced its displeasure citing the usual concern with family values. After all, who does she think she is, the Queen of ... Oh, never mind.

In other same-sex marriage news, Catholic governor of New Jersey Chris Christie is tiptoeing through the blue state as he (possibly) considers a bid for the Republican presidential nomination, a re-election campaign, and Iowa caucus goers. Treading lightly has never been his strong suit, but he needs to if he wants to be viewed as both a hard-line conservative to the party and as reasonably centrist to independent voters in 2016.

The city of Detroit has filed for bankruptcy. Saddled with $18.5 billion of debt, the city decided that the only reasonable and feasible way out would be to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection, which will allow the city to liquidate some assets in order to start settling with its creditors.

Of course, if Detroit were just a person, and had student loan debt, that debt could not be discharged through bankruptcy. On July 1, student loan interest rates doubled for new debt (from 3.4% to 6.8% for undergraduates). This week, Congress may have reached a deal to bring the interest rate back down --at least for now.

McDonald's decided to help out its employees by creating a budgeting program for them. They left a few things out, though, like food and gas for a car.

Ninety Catholic university presidents have issued a letter to Congress asking them to pass the immigration bill that was passed by the Senate. Inaction, they say, is unacceptable.

Last weekend, George Zimmerman was acquitted of the charges of second degree murder and manslaughter. On the heels of that verdict, there have been protests and lamentations both. See a particularly balanced and interesting commentary from our friends at Religion News Service here. Also, read "When profiling is “reasonable,” injustice becomes excusable" from Fr. Bryan Massingale.

Well, that's it for now. What happened in your corner this week?

Image: Angela Cox