US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Weekly roundup: the pope's new car, the Voyager's new solar system, and more Syria

By Kira Dault | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

All the world's a stage. Here are the scenes you might have missed from this week.

Pope Francis made news this week, as usual. First he sent an open letter to atheists, writing that “Given that — and this is the key point — God’s mercy has no limits, if you go to him with a sincere and repentant heart, the issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience.”

The pontiff also made news by purchasing a new car. Well, a new-to-him car. We can now expect to occasionally see Pope Francis puttering around Rome in his appropriately colored 1984 Renault. The car was gifted to the pope by Fr. Renzo Zocca of Verona, who commented, "Those security next to me were very concerned because they had realized that from then on he would go around the Vatican in my car. However, I left snow chains in the trunk." I'm sure that made the pope's security team feel better.

Regardless of how the security team feels, Catholics continue to adore Pope Francis, according to a recent Pew poll. See Scott Alessi's comments on Francis' first six months as the Bishop of Rome.

Farther afield, we got confirmation this week that the Voyager probe has entered interstellar space. Launched in 1977, Voyager I is moving at a speed of about 100,000mph, and is expected to reach another star in about 40,000 years. Voyager I is the first spacecraft to leave our solar system.

In slightly more domestic news, the international and domestic conflict regarding Syria got another wrinkle this week. In an off-the-cuff "diploma-gaff," John Kerry suggested a way that U.S. military intervention in Syria might be avoided. Russia jumped on board and apparently is working with Syria to work out a deal in which the Assad regime would give up its chemical weapons to the international community for storage and destruction. It is a tough row to hoe, and will include some rather delicate diplomatic negotiating as well as logistical planning and implementation, but if it can avoid the use of force, there are those who believe it will be well worth it.

Of course, shortly after this development, President Putin wrote an op-ed piece published in the New York Times in which he lectures President Obama and the citizens of the United States, leading to some respected news agencies referring to the relationship between Putin and Obama as "Frenemies."

In much more domestic news, the USCCB has been calling for pastors to get more aggressive about promoting immigration reform at their parishes. Specifically for the month of September, clergy are being urged to promote the issue from the pulpit.

In some of least surprising news ever, Anthony Weiner lost the democratic primary race in the New York City mayoral election. Staying classy as always, he ended his illustrious career with a one-fingered salute from his vehicle as he drove away from his concession party.

Michelle Bachmann has recommended crying out to God in order to stop Hilary Clinton's democratic nomination for the 2016 Presidential bid. Think it'll work?

In disaster news, Honolulu has suffered a massive molasses spill, which has resulted in the death of nearly all marine life affected by the spill. In Colorado, meanwhile, heavy rains have called what some are calling floods of "Biblical" proportions. Our prayers go out to all those affected.

A Minnesota Catholic school fired a second teacher in the course of one year for being gay. Kristen Ostendorf announced to colleagues at Totino-Grace High School that she was living with a woman, and that she was happy. The next day, she was told that she could either resign, or she would be fired. She chose to be fired.

Meanwhile, another teacher who was fired from another Catholic school is suing her former employer for breach of contract. Carrie Charlesworth was a victim of domestic violence who was fired for being a victim of domestic violence.

Finally, do you live near a train? Is there a bus stop near your house? A recent study from the University of Minnesota suggests that you might be happier than your car-dependent counterpart.

If you are traveling this weekend, whether by car or bus or train, may you have safe and happy travels, and a good weekend!