David Gibson is an award-winning religion journalist, author, filmmaker, and a convert to Catholicism. He came by all those vocations by accident, or Providence, during a longer-than-expected sojourn in Rome in the 1980s.
Gibson began his journalistic career as a walk-on sports editor and columnist at The International Courier, a tiny daily in Rome serving Italy's English-language community. He then found work as a newscaster across the Tiber at Vatican Radio, an entity he sees as a cross between NPR and Armed Forces Radio for the pope. The Jesuits who ran the radio were charitable enough to hire Gibson even though he had no radio background, could not pronounce the name "Karol Wojtyla" (go ahead -- try it) and wasn't Catholic --- at the time.
When Gibson returned to the United States in 1990 he returned to print journalism to cover the religion beat in his native New Jersey for two dailies and to write for leading magazines and newspapers in the New York area. Among other journalism prizes, Gibson has won the Templeton Religion Reporter of the Year Award, the top honor for journalists covering religion in the secular press, and has twice won the top prize writing on religion from the American Academy of Religion.
Gibson currently writes for Religion News Service and until recently was covering the religion beat for AOL's Politics Daily. He blogs at Commonweal magazine, and has written two books on Catholic topics, the latest a biography of Pope Benedict XVI. He would like to write another -- but can’t seem to find the time.
He has co-written documentaries on early Christian and Jewish history for CNN, and recently worked on a March 2011 History Channel special on the Vatican. He currently has several other film projects in development. Gibson has written for leading newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, New York magazine, Boston magazine, Fortune, Commonweal, America and, yes, The Ladies Home Journal.
Gibson is a longtime member of the Religion Newswriters Association. He and his wife and daughter live in Brooklyn.
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Vatican Newspaper Suggests Women Should Preach at Mass
A series of essays in the semi-official Vatican newspaper is urging the Catholic Church to allow women to preach from the pulpit at Mass, a role reserved almost exclusively to the all-male priesthood for nearly 800 years.
“This topic is a delicate one, but I believe it is urgent that we address it,” Enzo Bianchi, leader of an ecumenical religious community in northern Italy and a popular Catholic commentator, wrote in his article in L’Osservatore Romano.
Boston Cardinal O'Malley Praises Oscar Winner 'Spotlight'
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the Archdiocese of Boston, whose record on clergy sex abuse was uncovered by The Boston Globe and portrayed in this year’s Oscar-winning film Spotlight, has praised the movie for forcing the Catholic Church to acknowledge its “crimes and sins.”
“Spotlight is an important film for all impacted by the tragedy of clergy sexual abuse,” said O’Malley, who was named to the archdiocese after Cardinal Bernard Law was forced from office in 2002 following revelations that church officials protected abusive priests.
Canadian Archbishop: Last Rites Can Be Denied to Those Seeking Assisted Suicide
A leading Canadian Catholic churchman has said that a person who plans to die through assisted suicide can be denied last rites by a priest, a view that may spark debate as assisted suicide laws proliferate and pastors are presented with a new moral quandary. The bottom line, said Ottawa Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, is that a Catholic who requests assistance in dying “lacks the proper disposition for the anointing of the sick,” as the sacrament is formally known.
Check Out the Latest Catholic Singing Sensation
He was born and raised in Nigeria and works in London, and both experiences — oh, and he’s a Roman Catholic priest — have inspired the Rev. Albert Owie Ofere’s fascinating singing career, one that fuses Afro-pop and gospel music.
“I love singing and listening to music,” Ofere told The Vanguard, a Nigerian media outlet.
Nun and Bishop Blast Trump for Using Faith as a 'Ploy to Grab Votes'
Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump convincingly won the Nevada caucuses last night but he is still struggling in what might be called “the Pope Francis primary.” In a joint op-ed in today’s edition of The Hill, the first Hispanic woman elected as a bishop of the United Methodist Church and a Catholic nun who is an outspoken Washington lobbyist for social justice causes blast Trump for the views he expressed in picking a fight with the pontiff over what it means to be a Christian.
Pope Francis Again Blasts 'Fake' Christians in Mass Homily
Days after creating a stir by saying that Donald Trump “is not Christian” because of his harsh views on immigrants, Pope Francis again took up the theme of “fake” Christians in his homily at Mass the morning of Feb. 23. Referring to the readings of the day from Isaiah and from the Gospel of Matthew, in which Jesus warns of the judgement that awaits those who do not practice what they preach, Francis said Christians must act on their beliefs and care for the neediest — the hungry, the thirsty, and those in prison.
Sanders: Pope Francis Is a Socialist Like Me
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been a longtime fan of Pope Francis’ positions on social justice and income inequality, and now he says the pontiff is in fact a socialist — just like himself.
“(W)hat it means to be a socialist, in the sense of what the pope is talking about, what I’m talking about, is to say that we have got to do our best and live our lives in a way that alleviates human suffering, that does not accelerate the disparities of income and wealth,” Sanders tells the Rev. Thomas Rosica, head of the Toronto-based Catholic network Salt and Light in an interview to be broadcast the evening of Feb. 23.
Kansas City Teacher Astonishes With $2 Million Gift to Jesuits
Even people who knew Anna Kurzweil well wouldn’t have guessed she was a millionaire. She grew up on a farm outside of Kansas City, the youngest of eight children, and entered the convent for a few years but spent most of her life as a schoolteacher. She earned less than $20,000 a year, cared for her elderly mother, and eventually retired — on a pension of less than $1,000 a month. She died in 2012, just shy of her 101st birthday.
Honduran Cardinal Warns Against Aborting Zika Fetuses
“We should never talk about ‘therapeutic’ abortion,” the cardinal said in his homily, according to Honduran media reports.
“Therapeutic abortion doesn’t exist,” he said. “Therapeutic means curing, and abortion cures nothing. It takes innocent lives.”
Pope Francis: Powerful and Rich Risk Going to Hell If They Ignore the Poor
Pope Francis is taking direct aim at the wealthy and powerful of the world, saying in his message for Lent that they are often “slaves to sin” who, if they ignore the poor, “will end up condemning themselves and plunging into the eternal abyss of solitude which is hell.”
“The greater their power and wealth, the more this blindness and deception can grow,” the pontiff wrote in his annual Lenten exhortation, which was released on Jan. 26.
Pope Francis Opens Foot-Washing Rite to Women
Pope Francis has changed the rules so that a priest may wash the feet of women and others in the community and not just men, as church law had previously decreed. The change, announced Jan. 20, reflects Francis’ own groundbreaking gesture when, just a month after his election in 2013, he washed the feet of young people — including women and Muslims — at a youth detention center outside Rome.
Jailed Pastor Saeed Abedini Among Prisoners Released by Iran
Saeed Abedini, a pastor jailed in Iran since 2012 for allegedly trying to set up house churches, was one of four Iranian-Americans freed on Saturday in a prisoner deal with the U.S. linked to the nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers.
Is Pope Francis Too Indulgent With Indulgences?
Pope Francis has fascinated the public in large part because of how willingly he upends long-standing traditions and promotes a “revolution of tenderness” to set the Catholic Church on a new, more pastoral course for a new, more merciful era. To help fulfill this vision, Francis is also relying on an old-fashioned ritual — indulgences. They are a way of winning remission from penance — in this life or in Purgatory.
Lord Vishnu of Amazon? Magazine Apologizes for Deity Depiction
Hinduism certainly has numerous memorable manifestations of God, from Brahma the Creator to Shiva the Destroyer. But despite the remarkable success of retail giant Amazon, its founder Jeff Bezos is not one of them.
St. David Bowie? Not Yet, But Faith Leaders Pay Respects to Dead Rocker
The legendary musician and showman David Bowie was as mutable and enigmatic about his religious views as he was about his music, art and gender-bending fashion choices.
Yet his death from cancer Jan. 10 at 69 brought tributes from religious leaders who knew talent when they saw it, and perhaps recognized that Bowie’s crossover style would inevitably touch the ineffable as he constantly looked for meaning — and novelty.
Texas Bishop Rips ‘Cowboy Mentality’ Against Gun Control
In a blistering critique of what he describes as congressional kowtowing to the “gun lobby,” the Roman Catholic bishop of Dallas is praising President Obama’s new actions on gun control and ripping the “cowboy mentality” that allows “open carry” laws like one that just went into effect in Texas.
“Thank God that someone finally has the courage to close the loopholes in our pitiful gun control laws to reduce the number of mass shootings, suicides and killings that have become a plague in our country,” Bishop Kevin Farrell wrote in a column, posted on his website on Tuesday.
Supreme Court Justice Scalia: Constitution Says Government Can Favor Religion
Scalia told a gathering at a Catholic high school near New Orleans on Jan. 2, “one of the reasons God has been good to us is that we have done him honor.”
“Unlike the other countries of the world that do not even invoke his name, we do him honor. In presidential addresses, in Thanksgiving proclamations and in many other ways,” he said in a brief talk at Archbishop Rummel High School in Metarie, according to various news reports.
WATCH: Priest Suspended for Using Hoverboard During Mass
Hoverboards earned a reputation as maybe the most dangerous gift for kids this holiday season, given their penchant for catching fire and inducing nasty spills. But they’re apparently also perilous for Catholic priests who get it into their heads it might be a good idea to use one during Christmas Eve Mass — while the congregants are shooting video on their smartphones.
Pope Francis Surprises an Italian Family with a Christmastime Call
“Oftentimes we’re in a hurry when we call others. But they felt the pope was truly interested in them,” Gabrieli told the Catholic news site Aleteia, which also reported that the boy is seven. “At that moment, they were at the center of his attention. This is what really struck them. He was asking about them; they felt he really wanted to know how they were doing.”
The Pope's Man in Washington
Cardinal Donald Wuerl is an eminently approachable churchman, and unfailingly polite, yet the archbishop of Washington is hardly the type to wear his emotions on his sleeve.