President Trump and two of his cabinet secretaries traveled over the weekend to carry their message to their religious base. Trump himself spoke at the annual Values Voter Summit in the capital city. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke at the annual meeting of the Christian Counselors Association in Nashville; his address on Christian leadership was later featured on the web page of the Department of Justice. And Attorney General William Barr traveled to South Bend, Indiana, where he spoke to the School of Law. (See Dr. Moody’s commentary elsewhere on this web site, “With Bill Barr on the Sawdust Trail.)
In Washington and around the country Roman Catholics are holding their annual Red Mass in honor of the legal profession. The most prominent Red Mass is the one sponsored by the John Carroll Society and hosted by the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington DC, scheduled each fall on the Sunday prior to the opening day of the Supreme Court. The Red Mass in Rome began during the Middle Ages; the first one in the United States was in 1939. Now, they are held in cities across the country as a time when prayers are offered and homilies delivered that bring attention to lawyers and judges and the high calling of justice. As an aside, the Supreme Court now includes six Roman Catholics and three Jews and, for the first time, no Protestants.
The artifact scandal at the Museum of the Bible in Washington DC continues to grow. The museum, whose $500 million price tag was funded by the Green family of Hobby Lobby wealth, spent enormous sums of that money to secure what they thought were authentic ancient manuscripts of the Bible. Turns out, many are not. Over a period of six years or less (beginning in 2009), the Green family purchased more than 40,000 items, including what they thought were Dead Sea Scrolls (which turned out to be forgeries). Now, Professor Dirk Obbink of Oxford University acknowledges that he sold to the Museum of the Bible manuscript fragments that did not belong to him but were owned and housed by the Egypt Exploration Society. No charges have yet been filed.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley of Boston and Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego were two Americans tapped to attend (and speak) at the Synod of the Bishops for the Amazon, held in Rome, Italy, throughout the month of October. The official title of the event is “Amazonia: New Paths for the Church and for an Integral Ecology”. Two of the agenda items are economic and environmental threats to the Amazon region and the shortage of Roman Catholic priests, both of which may impact things in the United States. Many observers sense that there is broad support for the use of married priests to combat the ministerial shortage. Another issue coming before the Synod is the problem of migration—of corporations moving into the area to access natural resources and of residents moving out of the area into the large cities of Brazil.