TIME Religion

The Pope’s Silversmith is Creating an All-American Chalice

Pope Francis stands next to Argentinian craftsman Adrian Pallarols as he poses for the family photo with international football players at the Vatican on Sept. 2014 prior to an inter-religious "match for peace" soccer game that played at Rome's Olympic Stadium.
Vincenzo Pinto—AFP/Getty Images Argentinian silversmith Adrián Pallaros and Pope Francis pose with international soccer players at the Vatican on Sept. 2014 prior to an inter-religious "match for peace" soccer game that was played at Rome's Olympic Stadium.

It would be made from silver donated by Americans from around the country

An Argentinian silversmith is in New York City this week drumming up support for an unusual project: a silver communion chalice for the pope’s upcoming trip to the United States.

A seventh-generation silversmith who has known Pope Francis for more than a decade, Adrián Pallaros intends to make the chalice by melting down silver jewelry—”an earring, a little ring you don’t use,” anything with silver in it—donated by Americans from across the country.

Pallaros, 43, says Pope Francis would use the chalice during a mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in September. With a design featuring a map of the United States in the center of the handle plus the donated metals, the symbolism would be rich, he argues.

“Everybody, the whole country, will be in the prayers of Pope Francis here in New York when he lifts the chalice in the consecration,” Pallaros says. “Everybody can be in his hands for the prayers.”

Pallaros presented the idea for the chalice to Pope Francis in a private audience last month. He says any extra silver will be sold and the proceeds donated to Pope Francis’ efforts with the poor in the United States.

Courtesy of Adrian Pallaros

His family began handcrafting and designing silver in the 1750s in Barcelona, and they continued when they moved to Argentina in 1804. In recent years, the family’s clients have included Bill Clinton, Nelson Mandela, and Frank Sinatra, according to Vatican News.

When Pope Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires, he married Pallaros and his wife, and later he baptized their daughter. The Cardinal would stop by Pallaros’ workshop, Pallaros recalls, and chat about art and music. The Palladros family crafted the chalice that Cardinal Bergoglio presented to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005, and after Bergoglio was named Pope, they crafted the personal chalice that Pope Francis uses for masses at his Vatican residence at Santa Marta, as well as various other projects.

Pallaros says the idea for the chalice came when he was approached for a paid assignment to create a cup for the pope’s New York visit. He recalled how then-Cardinal Bergoglio would often bring him gifts of silver he had received to sell and use the proceeds to buy food, clothes and blankets for the poor.

That’s a philosophy Pallaros wanted to bring to bear on this effort. Not only can thousands of Americans contribute a meaningful memento from their own life stories to the chalice, but the poor would also benefit from the overflowing of contributions.

“When you have a lot of money, you have chances to get a special place, because you can give a lot of money,” says Pallaros. “But in this way, having a little part of each person who will send a bit of silver, they can feel they can participate and they can see this piece of silver will get to the hands of Pope Francis.”

The project is still in the early stages, and Pallaros still has a lot of work ahead for it all to work. He aims to finalize the details during his trip to New York this week, and he is working to arrange the banking and donation details to meet Internal Revenue Service requirements and recruit corporate sponsors to help receive and mail the silver from around the country to one central location.

He plans to melt the silver pieces in New York into an ingot to transport to Buenos Aires to craft it into the chalice at his workshop. Pallaros says he can craft the chalice in one to two months, but he needs to have all the metal by June in order to finish the project by September.

“My biggest concern is not the constructing, it is the raising of the metal and participation of the people,” he says.

TIME Religion

Indiana Governor Supports Clarifying Religious Objection Law

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on March 26, 2015.
Michael Conroy—AP Indiana Gov. Mike Pence holds a news conference at the Statehouse in Indianapolis on March 26, 2015.

Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination

(INDIANAPOLIS) — Indiana Gov. Mike Pence says he would support legislation to “clarify the intent” of a new state law that has attracted widespread criticism over concerns it could allow discrimination against gay people.

In an interview Saturday with the Indianapolis Star, the Republican governor said he’s been in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend. He expects that a clarification bill will be introduced this coming week to the religious objections law he signed Thursday.

He declined to provide details but told the newspaper that making gay and lesbian Indiana residents a protected legal class is “not on my agenda.”

Pence disputes the law allows state-sanctioned anti-gay discrimination, as some Indiana businesses, convention organizers and others have argued. He says he didn’t anticipate “the hostility that’s been directed at our state.”

TIME Religion

Lena Dunham’s Not an Anti-Semite, She’s Just Clueless

Lena Dunham
JB Lacroix—WireImage/Getty Images Lena Dunham at the Dolby Theatre on March 8, 2015 in Hollywood.

Mark Oppenheimer writes the biweekly “Beliefs” column for The New York Times and is editor-at-large for Tablet. He also reports for The Atlantic, The Nation, This American Life, and elsewhere.

Lena Dunham's portrayals of Jews, in her show and in her New Yorker piece, trade in the stalest of stereotypes

Lena Dunham suddenly finds herself an enemy of her people. This week, the creator and star of HBO’s Girls, who is Jewish, wrote a humor piece in The New Yorker called “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz.” It begins: “Do the following statements refer to (a) my dog or (b) my Jewish boyfriend?” and offers, to test one’s dog-or-Jew acumen, statements like, “doesn’t tip,” “has hair all over his body, like most males who share his background,” and “comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring.”

Cheap? Hairy? Over-mothered? Is it a dog, or is it a Jew?

The Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish anti-bigotry watchdog group, said in a statement Friday that the “piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the ‘No Jews or Dogs Allowed’ signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as ‘dogs.’”

Now, I am not as sensitive as the Anti-Defamation League, to put it mildly. Not only do I not usually complain about Jews making Jews look bad, I’m often the one being so accused. Just last year, I wrote a magazine piece about Jews who travel all the way from Jerusalem to the Jersey shore just to knock on doors begging for money. A few months earlier, I’d narrated a This American Life story about a rabbi accused of kidnapping husbands who refuse to give their wives divorces. If you have dirty Jewish laundry, I’ll air it.

So I am inclined to stand in solidarity with any fellow MOT (member of the tribe) who comes under fire for being bad for the Jews. But I confess that, in this case, I find myself aligned with the censors, the stuffed shirts, the killjoys. I think that Dunham’s piece fails, for a number of reasons.

To begin, it’s just not very funny. Of course, no harm in that. What makes the unfunniness of “Dog or Jewish Boyfriend? A Quiz” seem extra tasteless is how dated its humor is. It relies on stereotypes — the cheap Jew, the smothering Jewish mother — that were current almost half a century ago, back when Jews faced much more anti-Semitism. Dunham may be a hip auteur in her 20s, but in this humor piece she’s working with material from the era when some country clubs were still restricted.

It was also, of course, the material of the great Jewish writer Philip Roth, who gave us the castrating Jewish mother, and eager-to-please son, in 1969’s Portnoy’s Complaint, for which many feminists still haven’t forgiven him. But Roth is a genius, and genius buys you a lot of leeway with stereotypes. And Dunham’s less inspired humor recycles not only Roth’s caricature of women, but also his equally damning portrayal of Jewish men. Other items on Dunham’s quiz include “he has asthma,” he “expects to be waited on hand and foot by the women in his life,” and he “has a sensitive stomach and has to take two Dramamine before entering any moving vehicle.” In other words, he’s weak and effete, with a poor constitution. That’s part Portnoy, and part his constipated father, who was forever sitting on the toilet trying to squeeze something out.

What’s interesting, and a bit sad, is that Dunham seems not to know that these aren’t really live stereotypes anymore. I suppose there are still some people who think of Jews as cheap, but pampered and neurotic? How many in the Girls demographic, Jew or Gentile, really live with those cultural tropes? Jews have largely dropped those particular items of baggage: Who’s shocked to see a Jew shooting hoops on the playgrounds of Brooklyn? The one element of that old Jewish portraiture that still seems relevant is the smothering parenting, but now it’s all parents who do that.

Dunham seems to expect some latitude with this humor piece because she is, after all, a Jewish writer. David Remnick, The New Yorker’s editor, said as much in a statement defending Dunham: “The Jewish-comic tradition is rich with the mockery of, and playing with, stereotypes,” he wrote. “Has Mr. Foxman” — head of the Anti-Defamation League — “never heard Lenny Bruce or Larry David or Sarah Silverman or read Portnoy’s Complaint? Lena Dunham is a comic voice working in that vein.”

Except that Dunham is not working in that vein. Those are all comics who identified as obvious Jews and had built much of their humor around their Judaism. Dunham’s mother is Jewish, which makes her as Jewish as Moses, according to Jewish law. But she has never worked well with Judaism in her humor. The character she plays on Girls is a WASP from the Midwest. In fact, the only regular Jewish character on the show Dunham created is Shoshanna, a shallow, coddled materialist who fits snugly into a Jewish American Princess stereotype that I thought had been blessedly retired. The great actor Zosia Mamet imbues Shoshanna with as much humanity as she can, but it’s hard not to wonder why the only reasonably ethnic character on Girls — in contemporary Brooklyn, no less — is the Jewish girl from a 1970s-era JAP joke.

As it happens, the Girls season finale, last Sunday, featured two other Jewish men: an Orthodox man with a newborn baby, who walks through one of the last shots of the episode — a distant, Orientalized other — and Laird, father to the baby about to be born to Hannah’s ex’s sister. As Laird’s laboring girlfriend, committed to a home birth, looks as if she might need to go to the hospital, Laird panics and melts down. Hannah’s friend Jessa, improvising the role of doula, tells Laird sternly, “I need you, and she needs you, to be a man right now.” Laird starts to cry and wails, “But I’m not a man! I’m a Jewish recovering junkie and I weigh 135 pounds!”

That’s Jewish humor in Lena Dunham’s world.

Contrast that with Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, who in their shows presented a wide range of Jewish types — religious and not, lovable or loathsome. Or with Sarah Silverman, who like Dunham also jokes about hirsuteness, in interviews and in one concert movie, but turns the joke on her own Jewish body, not on an outdated stock character of a boyfriend who also happens to be cheap and asthmatic.

Is Dunham an anti-Semite? Of course not. She is just a young artist, with shaky judgment, and no real feel for the tradition of Jewish humor in which her editor, presiding over America’s most storied magazine, suggests she is working. And this whole episode has the salutary effect, I like to think, of folding Dunham more closely into the tradition of Jewish writers: sooner or later, if we’re doing our job, we all get called bad for the Jews.

Read next: Jewish Group Objects to Lena Dunham’s ‘Dog or Jewish Boyfriend’ Story

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME faith

Here’s Why Christians Celebrate Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday in a catholic chapel
Getty Images Palm Sunday in a catholic chapel

It's the day Jesus entered Jerusalem before the Crucifixion

On Sunday, Christians all over the world will be carrying palms and other branches. That’s because it’s Palm Sunday, a celebration of the day Jesus entered Jerusalem before he was crucified and then resurrected, according to the Christian faith.

Christians carry palms on Palm Sunday because according to the Gospels, Jesus’ followers covered his path in palm fronds on the day he entered Jerusalem, after the custom of placing palms in the path of a high-ranking person. The palm branch also signified victory in Greco-Roman times, so the waving palms would have resembled a triumphal procession.

In many churches, congregants twist palms into the shape of a cross to commemorate the day, or use other branches if palms are not easily accessible– in some parts of Europe, churchyards are strewn with branches and flowers. The holiday is often celebrated with a procession.

Jesus also arrived in Jerusalem on a donkey, which was considered highly symbolic. At the time, a king riding a donkey symbolized peace, while a king on a horse symbolized war — while Jesus was not technically a king, his followers considered him to be King of Israel. Palm Sunday is depicted in all four Gospels, which isn’t true of all stories about Jesus.

In some congregations, the palms are burned at the end of Palm Sunday and the ashes are saved to use on Ash Wednesday of the following year. But most of all, Palm Sunday signifies the beginning of the last week of Lent — and the beginning of Holy Week.

Read next: Pope Francis Takes Selfies With Crowd After Palm Sunday Homily

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TIME Religion

George Takei Asks Twitter Followers to #BoycottIndiana Over Religious Objections Law

Critics say the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legalizes discrimination

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signed a bill into law Thursday that allows business owners to deny same-sex couples service on religious grounds, then quickly defended it. Within hours, Star Trek actor and LGBT activist George Takei took his outrage to Twitter using the hashtag #BoycottIndiana, which began trending.

Democratic lawmakers, LGBT rights activists and civil liberties groups have argued that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act legalizes discrimination. And other celebrities aside from Takei have questioned Pence’s decision to sign the bill. On Monday, Jason Collins—the first openly gay NBA player—tweeted at the Governor, asking him if he will be discriminated against when he attends the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis next week.

On Thursday, the Indianapolis-based NCAA, expressed its own doubts. “We are especially concerned about how this legislation could affect our student-athletes and employees,” NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement.

Several other businesses plan to protest the law by denying Indiana their business. The gamer convention Gen Con threatened in a letter to pull its event out of Indianapolis when its contract with the city ends, and Mark Benioff, CEO of the $43 billion tech company Salesforce, said company will no longer proceed with its plans to expand to the state.

Read next: Indiana Governor Defends Signing of Religious Objections Bill

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TIME Religion

Why Pope Francis Is Obsessed With Mary

Statue of Mary in a church
Rafael Belincanta/EyeEm—Getty Images Statue of Mary in a church

Christopher Hale is a senior fellow at Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good and the co-founder of Millennial.

If women can lead the church on the ground, why can’t they have a seat at the table?

Today, Christians around the world celebrate the ancient Marian Feast of the Annunciation. Falling nine months before Christmas, this holy day commemorates Jesus’s conception in Mary’s womb. Of particular focus is Mary’s courageous choice to say “yes” to God’s invitation to be the mother of Jesus.

Devotion to Mary is an integral part of being Catholic. It also plays a poignant role in the life of Pope Francis, who is known to pray the rosary three times a day.

A pope dedicated to Mary is about as guaranteed as a pope who is Catholic. But Francis’s Marian devotion stands apart from his predecessors for one reason: Francis’s conception of Mary is not just as the meek mother of God, but also as a strong and courageous leader of the faith.

While studying in Germany in the late 1980s, the future pope, then named Jorge Mario Bergoglio, developed an affinity for the baroque painting “Mary Untier of Knots.” The work depicts Mary untying a knotted rope while stomping her foot on a serpent. The message of the painting is clear: Mary solves problems, heals divisions, and defeats evil.

Moved by the painting, Pope Francis brought it back to Argentina and created a popular devotion to Mary Untier of Knots. One can say with confidence that the same Mary now stands as his patron as he navigates the church’s way forward during an exciting, uncertain time.

One issue that Francis must contend with is the leadership role of women within the church. While Francis has led the church’s ongoing evolution on its pastoral care of the LGBT community, not nearly as much progress has been made on church’s inclusion of women.

This is unfortunate. While men make up the hierarchy of the church, women play important roles. For example, women teach children, serve the poor in soup kitchens and social-service agencies and minister to the sick. Christians should look to these strong women for leadership. If women can lead the church on the ground, why can’t they have a seat at the table?

After all, that was the way it was in the beginning.

After Jesus’ death, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb to remove his body. On the way there, she encountered a gardener. The gardener revealed himself to be the risen Christ. As Mary ran to tell the other disciples the good news, she held within her the very reason of the church: to share God’s saving love in Jesus. In that moment, some argue that she was the church.

If the Catholic Church is going to have a future, it must rediscover these radical roots. A church without women in leadership is a church without a future.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME viral

Did the ‘Face of Jesus’ Appear in a Colombian Rockslide?

A landslide in Colombia has reportedly yielded what some are calling a miracle — the face of Jesus, etched on a hillside.

So many worshippers came to the site in Putumayo that police have been brought in to manage the crowd, Colombian newspaper El Tiempo reports, and some locals have begun charging the pilgrims to see the face.

“If you believe in Jesus, you will see your image,” Ximena Rosero Arango, one of the people who came to the site, told the newspaper. The image has also been making the rounds on social media since Saturday, when the crowds first began arriving.

If the image is real it would be a departure for the Son of God; usually, the countenance divine is revealed in foodstuffs.

[El Tiempo]

TIME Religion

Lincoln and the Jews

David Wolpe is the Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

For Lincoln, the inclination to acceptance culminated in the emancipation proclamation

“One of my most valued friends.” In all of the writings of Abraham Lincoln, we find that phrase used only once. It refers to Abraham Jonas, who was a Jew.

In a world where hatred or suspicion of Jews was near universal, our greatest President proves singularly free of this ancient prejudice. A remarkable feature of the lavishly illustrated and beautifully written work, Lincoln and the Jews by Jonathan Sarna and Benjamin Shapell, is to learn anew how many Jews Lincoln befriended in his too brief life and the consistency with which he opposed the common anti-Semitism of his time. Growing up, Lincoln knew no Jews, other than those whom he met in the pages of his well-thumbed Bible. Yet his was not a grudging admission of Jewish legitimacy but a genuine liking and even admiration. He even justified the appointment of one assistant quartermaster because he was Jewish: “I believe we have not yet appointed a Hebrew.” In fact, he had, but this appointment, Moise Levy, was a well known and traditional Jew, and the son-in-law of a prominent Rabbi.

Most famously, Lincoln countermanded General Grant’s General order #11, which literally banished Jews “as a class” from his war zone, from the Mississippi river to the Tennessee river, and from Northern Mississippi to Cairo Illinois. Although meliorative explanations have been offered for Grant, his rhetoric and order were discriminatory at best. Lincoln’s other Generals like Butler and McClellan, expressed anti-Semitic sentiments even more openly.

A delegation of Jews went to the White House before Grant’s order could be carried out. The exchange that follows shows both Lincoln’s immersion in the Bible, his characteristically sprightly manner of dealing with even serious issues, and his sense of responsibility for the Jewish community. After recounting Grant’s action, the Jewish Spokesperson Cesar Kaskel gratefully heard the President’s response:

Lincoln: And so the children of Israel were driven from the happy land of Canaan?

Kaskel: Yes, and that is why we have come unto Father Abraham’s bosom, seeking protection.

Lincoln: And this protection they shall have at once.

Lincoln immediately countermanded Grant’s order.

Some 70 years before, George Washington sent a letter to the Hebrew congregation at Newport, in which he too used biblical imagery, that of Isaiah, assuring the Jews of that community and by extension, throughout the newly created nation that, “every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree and there shall be none to make him afraid.”

Both men, the founder of the nation and its savior were distinguished by their acceptance of Jews. Narrowing the boundaries of acceptance would fracture the nation one strove to create and the other to unite.

For Lincoln, the inclination to acceptance culminated in the emancipation proclamation. Throughout his life he was capable of judging individuals; when Frederick Douglass visited Lincoln in the White House he declared that while he was not satisfied with the President’s views, he was “well satisfied with the man.”

Lincoln and the Jews is filled with rare photographs and letters that tell the story of a man who himself defied the limitations of his time, and whose strength of character altered the nation’s destiny.

Lincoln was shot on Friday night and declared dead on Saturday morning. As a result Jews all over the country heard the news in synagogue. In New York’s Temple Emanu-El, the NY Times reported, people spontaneously rose to recite the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer of mourning. It was fitting: Not only had the nation lost its President and presiding spirit, but the Jewish people knew they had lost a great man, and a great friend.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Religion

This Cathedral Will Stop Drenching Homeless People in Water

St. Mary's Church in San Francisco, Ca.
Getty Images St. Mary's Church in San Francisco, Ca.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco called the system "ill-conceived"

A cathedral in San Francisco will stop pouring water on homeless people to prevent them from sleeping in its doorways after the method incited public outrage.

In a statement released Wednesday, the Archdiocese of San Francisco called the sprinkler system at Saint Mary’s Cathedral “ill-conceived” and added, “The purpose was to make the Cathedral grounds as well as the homeless people who happen to be on those grounds safer… It actually has had the opposite effect from what it was intended to do, and for this we are very sorry.”

The controversial system sparked a backlash, with Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of the Coalition on Homelessness, calling it “very shocking, and very inhumane,” reports CBS San Francisco.

The system could also be illegal. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection issued a notice of violation for “the unpermitted downspout,” according to the Washington Post. The cathedral has said it has already begun removing the system.

TIME Religion

3 Other Christian Denominations That Allow Gay Marriage

The Presbyterian Church (USA) formally recognized same-sex marriages Tuesday

On Tuesday the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted to redefine marriage as “a commitment between two people, traditionally a man and a woman,” formally allowing same-sex marriages within the church. The vote to modify the church constitution follows last year’s recommendation from the church’s General Assembly.

Here’s are other major churches in the U.S. that allow same-sex marriage:

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America allows same-sex couples to get married, but leaves it up to individual ministers of congregations to decide, according to a 2009 resolution. “There is nothing that prescribes who a congregation pastor can marry or not marry, so long as it is consistent with state law,” ELCA Secretary David Swartling said in 2012.

The Episcopal Church established a rite of blessing for same-sex couples in 2012 and prohibited discrimination against transgender people. It has welcomed gay people since 1976, when its General Convention decided that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” Technically it has no official policy sanctioning same-sex marriage, but it will take up the issue in June.

The United Church of Christ has allowed same-sex couples to get married since 2005. At the 25th General Synod of the United Church of Christ in Atlanta, it “affirm[ed] equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage.” It was the first major Protestant denomination to do so.

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