A new pope arrives in the United States. Expectations are high for this different type of papacy that brings fresh air from a land that has never given Catholicism a pope before. He comes to America as a media star, having energized not only Catholics, but many of other faiths or even no faith at all. His charisma and direct contact with people in the pews contrast starkly with the remoteness and intellectualism of his predecessor as pope. Catholicism has been in the doldrums for more than a decade, but his unexpected election has sparked excitement and curiosity. He gives voice to many who haven't been heard and have been yearning for leadership.
This week’s Gospel may be the second Passion prediction, but being told that Jesus will be killed is no easier on the second hearing. Maybe the disciples don’t ask questions because they’re afraid it could be true.
Some congregations are increasingly relying on search firms to fill pastoral vacancies. Minister Search, the first such firm, began in 2001. It didn’t have a single client the first year, but now it does searches for 30 to 50 pastoral positions annually. Another firm began in 2010 and has completed 753 placements. Ministerial search firms are particularly popular with independent congregations, which lack a denominational structure for finding candidates. Firms typically charge a congregation about one-third the annual compensation of the hired minister (Chicago Tribune, September 4).