Monday Mix: Vatican bombshell, John McCain's faith, Bibles at Marriott, blue Texas and more

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Talk about a busy weekend for religion news. That was a big one!

Fortunately, we've got this new feature called the Monday Mix to help you catch up on the flurry of developments. As we explained last week, we'll focus in this space on headlines and insights you might have missed from the weekend and late in the week.

We'll mention this again, too: Just because we include a headline here doesn't mean we won't offer additional analysis in a different post, particularly if it's a major story. In fact, if you read a piece linked here and have questions or concerns that we might address, please don't hesitate to comment below or tweet us at @GetReligion. The goal here is to point at important news and say, "Hey, look at this."

Three weekend reads

1. "This will be a nuclear war between the Catholic left and right." GetReligion editor Terry Mattingly offered an opening primer on the former Vatican ambassador to the United States' weekend bombshell.

Then, earlier today, a post from my colleague Julia Duin delved deeper into media coverage of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's claim that Pope Francis covered up abuses by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and should resign.

That coverage includes the New York Times' highly skeptical front-page story this morning with the headline "Critic of Pope In Open Revolt Vs. the Vatican."

2. “He was a very good preacher, much to my surprise." Outside of the world of religion, the big news of the weekend was the death of U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

But even there, the faith angle was important, as noted in the Religion News Service obituary produced by national reporter Adelle Banks.

From Banks' story:

(RNS) — Sen. John McCain, a former prisoner of war who embraced patriotism loudly and religion quietly, died Saturday (Aug. 25) at the age of 81.
McCain was diagnosed in July 2017 with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
The longtime Arizona Republican senator, reared in the Episcopal Church, attended a Southern Baptist megachurch in his later years. He viewed himself as a Christian but had “a distrust of the religious right and a faith that is too public, too political,” author Stephen Mansfield, author of books about the faiths of presidents and presidential candidates, told Religion News Service in December 2017.

3. "If the presence of those books can be a comfort to others, then their placement is well-served.” Get ready to see the Holy Bible and the Book of Mormon in many more hotel rooms across the nation.

The Associated Press reports that Marriott International, which bought Starwood two years ago, is placing the books in 300,000 rooms.

Interestingly, though, AP notes that it's not a policy that Marriott, whose namesake founding family is active in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "relishes discussing."

Also in the Mix

4. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, as part of its in-depth coverage of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on Catholic clergy sex abuse, sent religion writer Peter Smith to cover Pope Francis in Dublin.

In an initial piece, Smith noted that Francis headed to Ireland "amid a mixture of anticipation and anguish over abuse."

5. Still more coverage related to the clergy sex abuse scandal comes from the Boston Globe.

In a Saturday interview with the Globe, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley "called on all U.S. dioceses to turn over personnel records to law enforcement when asked, casting the latest revelations of widespread sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy as a shocking and painful catalyst for greater accountability."

6. The Chicago Tribune offered some absolutely chilling religious details in a news story about a Sunday fire that killed at least eight people, including six children. 

“We’re asking God to protect us, and he’ll heal our hearts,” the father of three children who died told the Tribune. “We’ve got to love each other today because tomorrow is not promised.”

7. This one didn't run over the weekend, but a tweet reminded me to mention it.

I'm talking about BuzzFeed News' recent piece exploring whether U.S. Senate candidate Beto O'Rourke could be the Democrat to — finally — turn red-state Texas blue.

Some of the religious content that stood out to me:

Abilene is the biggest city for two hours in any direction, the heart of what’s known as “The Big Country.” It’s also the buckle on the Texas Bible Belt, ruled by three major Christian denominations: Methodists, Baptists, and the Church of Christ, each of which has a college and sprawling following across town. Writing in 1975, A.C. Greene explained how difficult the politics of Abilene were to untangle, or conquer, especially if you didn’t belong to one of those congregations: “I still haven’t figured out how you score a win on a town that belongs to God.”

Speaking of Abilene, those quoted in the piece include my friend Cheryl Bacon, retired dean of the communications school at Abilene Christian University. Bacon said on Facebook that the writer spent two hours talking to her, which is "an indicator of good reporting."

In case you missed it

8. Besides the tmatt post I already mentioned, don't miss the latest "Crossroads podcast," discussing the pope's recent comments on the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Read the post, and listen to the podcast.

9. Another GetReligion post you might have missed: tmatt's commentary titled "Dawn in Washington: Former GetReligionista offers spiritual advice on sex abuse and healing."

Question to start the week

10. Is a lack of ideological diversity in newsrooms — and not simply President Trump — the reason so many Americans have a negative view of journalism?

That's the case made by a columnist for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota. I'd love to hear your feedback on the piece.

Happy Monday, everybody!

Have a terrific week!

 

 

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