US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Weekly roundup: A president and a pope, World Vision, and the Supreme Court

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It’s been a big week for religion news around these parts, but just in case you were busy shoveling snow or buying a new umbrella, this is your weekly roundup.

First, in the “hope and change” department, the news of the week came out of Rome, where President Obama met with Pope Francis. A blog post over at NPR notes that right now, the pontiff is polling at 87 percent among Americans, compared to the president’s 47 percent. But to be fair, Pope Francis is still pretty new to the gig, and he doesn’t have to work with Congress.

On Monday, in a rather stunning move, World Vision, the Christian relief agency, announced a dramatic policy change: They would begin hiring Christians who were in same-sex marriages. This change begat a huge backlash, which begat a rather large round of “take-backsies.” On Thursday, World Vision announced that, just kidding, in the name of Biblical correctness, they would reinstate the policy that allows them to discriminate against homosexual individuals.

On Wednesday morning, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments for the two cases that are challenging the so-called “contraception mandate” Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood, Inc. vs Sebelius were argued together in an hour-and-a-half round of questions. So far, no one seems exactly well-equipped to predict what the decision, scheduled to be handed down during the last week of June, will reveal.

Back at the Vatican, Pope Francis fired/accepted the resignation of Bishop Bling. Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg, Germany has become rather infamous in the last several months for his extravagant lifestyle, which contrasts so strongly with that modeled and advocated by Pope Francis. The bishop spent somewhere around $43 million on renovations to his residence, which included a $300,000 Koi pond. The bishop has now been summoned to the Vatican to speak with Pope Francis.

This weekend marks the opening of the film Noah starring Russell Crowe, who has spent the last month or so lobbying the Vatican for an endorsement of the film, to no avail. Though not widely released until… well, today… Noah has already received some rather biting criticism from evangelical leaders, who say that the film does not accurately depict the Biblical story and fails to mention God.

And now for the Papal rapid fire roundup.

This week, in addition to meeting President Obama, Pope Francis:


That’s it for now. Enjoy this last weekend of March. Maybe it’ll go out like a lamb, like they say. If you’re looking for something to do, check out our surveys on fracking and Lent.