Friday Five: Clergy sex abuse, spot the ghost, shuttered revival, Botham Jean, #RNA2018 and more


In the world of religion news, one big story — the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal — keeps dominating.

In the world of religion reporting, a big story — the firing this past spring of Religion News Service’s editor in chief, followed by the resignations of some key staff and columnists — will take a new twist this afternoon.

Look for more details below as we dive right into the Friday Five:

(1) Religion story of the week: Here’s a big story that I don’t believe we’ve mentioned yet: Pope Francis summoning the world’s bishops to meet next February on sexual abuse.

The New York Times’ lede focuses on child abuse. The other thorns in this crisis — which are more controversial — are down lower. Among them: talk about disciplining bishops and cardinals; abuse of seminarians; and violations of celibacy vows with adults (male and female).

(2) Most popular GetReligion post: For the first time in several weeks, the No. 1 most-clicked post does not relate to clergy sex abuse.

Rather, the most popular post this week has to do with a holy ghosts. It’s Terry Mattingly’s commentary titled “Spot the ghost: Idealistic doctor from Catholic college seeks to build hospital near Ave Maria.”

(3) Guilt folder fodder (and more): My friend and former GetReligion colleague Mark Kellner wrote a really interesting piece this week for RNS.

Check out Kellner’s story headlined “Shuttered houses of worship get a reboot, find new life.”

(4) Shameless plug: I’ve been busy this week reporting on the case of Botham Jean, a 26-year-old Dallas man who was shot to death by a Dallas police officer.

The officer, who has been charged with manslaughter, claims she entered Jean’s apartment thinking it was her own and then confused him with a burglar.

Read my Christian Chronicle story on how Jean’s Dallas church intends to seek justice for the beloved song leader and Bible class teacher.

(5) Final thought: Usually, I save something quirky or humorous for this spot. But this week, I need the space.

The Religion News Association annual meeting is happening this week in Columbus, Ohio. Follow it via hashtag #RNA2018 on Twitter. This afternoon, RNA members will meet to discuss the association’s relationship with RNS, the wire service where Jerome Socolovsky was fired as editor in April and veteran Godbeat pro Bob Smietana was hired to replace him recently. (Full disclosure: I occasionally write freelance stories for RNS. I enjoyed working with Socolovsky, who was a true professional in all my dealings with him. I also consider Smietana a friend and have some freelance pieces in the works for him.)

I’m told the members meeting won’t be streamed live but that minutes will be taken. Because of scheduling conflicts, I’m not at RNA this year.

Stay tuned. We’ll update readers on the discussion when we can.

Happy Friday, everybody!

Enjoy the weekend!

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