Appreciation: Gene Kennedy was direct, honest. The world of the clergy is sick, and the church would never heal from the abuse crisis until the entire culture was cleansed.
If the influential Catholic writer Thomas Merton were alive today, he would likely have strong words about police brutality and racial profiling.
Back in 1963, Merton called the civil rights movement "the most providential hour, the kairos not merely of the Negro, but of the white man."
His words echoed Saturday among black pastors at a conference, titled "Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton," hosted by Louisville's Center for Interfaith Relations. The event marked the 100th anniversary of Merton's birth.
Morgan Atkinson's new documentary on Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist monk from the Cistercian abbey in Gethsemani, Kentucky, was "40 years in the making," he joked.
Actually, it was closer to two, but it was Atkinson's own pilgrimage to Gethsemani 40 years ago that not only broadened his exposure to Merton, but led him to become a Catholic himself.
"Seasons of Celebration: Thomas Merton at 100" profiles Merton the writer, interfaith dialogue partner, peace and racial justice activist, as well as the photographer, calligrapher and correspondent.
The rise of the so-called Islamic State dominated headlines in 2014 as the group sowed death and destruction across Iraq and Syria.
The Rev. Jamie Coots, a serpent-handling pastor and co-star of the "Snake Salvation" reality television show, died Saturday after a snakebite during a church service. He was 42.
Coots, pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, Ky., was found dead at his house around 10 p.m.
Coots had been bitten at the church, Middlesboro Police Chief Jeff Sharpe told WBIR television in Knoxville. Sharpe said emergency workers went to the church and to Coots' home but he refused medical care.