US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Weekly roundup: Eric Holder, Bishop of Honolulu, and phone calls from the pope

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This week's roundup brought to you by the letters T, G, I, and F.

A photo of Pope Francis has gone viral. Michael J. O'Loughlin over at Religion News Service titled the photo the "Pope's selfie." Don't worry. It's not that kind of selfie.

The pontiff is also making unsolicited phone calls. After he received a letter from a 44-year old woman who was a rape victim, Pope Francis called her on the phone to chat, telling her that she was not alone.

Also in Vatican news, Pope Francis has responded to the images coming out of Syria. He says that he is disturbed. But he is also urging dialogue rather than violence as the first measure. The pontiff is one of the few world leaders urging for a non-violent solution now, as France, England, and the United States have all joined in the call for "action against Syria."

Major news coming from Washington this week, as Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the DOJ will allow the state laws legalizing marijuana to go into effect. This is particularly significant in Washington and Colorado, both of which passed voter referendums in November.

But while Eric Holder is mellowing out, some states are preparing to ramp up. In Pennsylvania, one county has started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples, but the governor says that's like giving marriage licenses to 12-year-olds. The licenses have been issued in Montgomery County, where following the Supreme Court's decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act, the county register Wills D. Bruce Hanes decided it was time to start issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

In Hawaii, the Bishop of Honolulu made a statement saying that Catholics should be praying to defeat same-sex marriage legislation because the legalization of same-sex marriage would lead to polygamy and incest. Meanwhile, a Baptist pastor in Birmingham, Alabama came out in favor of same-sex marriage, saying that she would be open to blessing the unions of same-sex couples, since they are welcome in all other aspects of church life.

Of course, then we have the Dominican Republic, where according to the Associated Press, couples (heterosexual couples) are now, for the first time, allowed to marry in non-Catholic ceremonies. Hold the phone. A couple of Jehovah's Witness tied the knot the other day in the first officially recognized Jehovah's Witness ceremony.

Around the country, cheeseburgers got a little more difficult to get, when fast-food workers walked off the job on Thursday in anticipation of Labor Day. Thursday's strike was a continuation of the fast-food strikes that have been happening for the past year or so, with front-line, low wage workers demanding more full-time hours and a living wage of $15 per hour.

Religion News Service's Michael J. O'Loughlin interviewed Katie Diller, the leader of ESTEEM (Engaging Students to Enliven the Ecclesial Mission). She talks about how to keep college students involved in Catholic life.

Monday is Labor Day, so don't miss our Labor Day Special Section on Labor and Worker Justice.

That's it for now. Have a peaceful and restful weekend and Labor Day.