Wisdom Wednesday | August 16th

August 16AUSCP NewsRoundup

We ask this week for prayers for Maui, in appreciation for a bishop who tells his people it is OK to be angry with God, because God can take it. Pope Francis celebrates World Youth Day, doubling down on welcoming everybody (todos, todos, todos) into the Church.

We feature a major collection of items as we approach the sixtieth anniversary of the March on Washington with Dr. Martin Luther King. We thank Gerry Kleba in St. Louis for his pro-life witness in the hour of a prisoner’s death.

Wisdom Wednesday is intended to observe the signs of the times – actions and issues bubbling or boiling up in the religious and secular society; in cultural, academic, political, scientific and theological circles. It is the “See” portion of Canon Joseph Cardijn’s “See-Judge-Act” methodology, or perhaps the listening-first part of synodality.

And we wrap up with an AI invitation to trade text messages with Jesus.

In Maui

Maui families and faith leaders are clinging to hope. For scores of families in Hawaii still hoping to reunite with loved ones, it was not yet time to give up — even as authorities predicted that more remains would be found within the ashes left behind by a wildfire that gutted the once-bustling town of Lahaina. Bishop Clarence “Larry” Silva of Honolulu appealed to somber parishioners not to abandon their faith.

If we are angry with God we should tell him so. He can take it,” he said in his sermon, adding later that “God loves us in tragedies and good times and bad times.”

World Youth Day

Pope Francis: WYD showed the world that faith can lead to peace. And throughout the visit, the pope continued to repeat the message that everyone is welcome in the Catholic Church — at one point getting young people to repeat after him “todos, todos, todos” (“everyone, everyone, everyone”).

The same day Pope Francis told half a million Catholics gathered in the Portuguese capital for a major youth festival that the church must be a home for everyone, ultra-traditionalist Catholics interrupted a Mass for LGBTQ pilgrims in protest of the organizer’s efforts to put the pope’s message into action.

Check out this website for National Catholic Reporter coverage of the events of World Youth Day.

Fearing election violence

Zimbabwe’s Catholic bishops are taking a firm stand against any acts of political violence as the country prepares for a presidential election on Aug. 23.

Death Penalty – Up close and personal

If there was one thing Father Gerry Kleba wanted to impart on Johnny Johnson in their short time together, it was this: You are a beloved child of God. Kleba, a retired priest of the archdiocese (and a member of the AUSCP) served as Johnson’s spiritual adviser in the final weeks before his execution on Aug. 1, visiting him frequently and sitting by his side in the chamber as he died.

March on Washington Anniversary

August 28 will mark the sixtieth anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s March on Washington. Pew Research offers two items: the first on Americans’ views of progress on racial equality, different forms of protest and what needs to change, and the second on how public attitudes toward Martin Luther King Jr. have changed since the 1960s.

Today, opposing racism is not just a matter of social justice. Across religious groups, a majority of Black Americans say opposing racism is an essential part of their faith. The survey was done in 2021.

Celebrating and Lamenting

On this anniversary of the March on Washington, we offer a series of items regarding the reality of racism in the United States and also celebrating Black accomplishments.

  • Ava DuVernay is the first Black woman to compete at the Venice Film Festival, receiving an award during the annual festivities in Italy.
  • In Louisville, a racial justice pilgrimage is set for September. Modern Catholic Pilgrim is organizing the event in partnership with the Archdiocese of Louisville, and Archbishop Shelton Fabre is expected to attend.
  • Simone Biles takes gold in first competition since 2021, taking all-around gold and qualifying for the 2023 U.S. Gymnastics Championships.
  • The 2023 National Black Catholic Congress displayed the ongoing challenge of inclusion. “The Church doesn’t always feel like a welcoming place for young people,” said Ali Mumbach, a Howard University graduate student and one of the relatively few young adult presenters during the NBCC gathering this year.
  • Recent reports of a disturbing nature include the story of a Black 12-year-old handcuffed while taking out household trash in Lansing, Mich., and a mistaken identity arrest in Kenosha, Wisc.
  • Just the Facts
    • Pew Research says African immigrants in the U.S. are more religious than other Black Americans, and more likely to be Catholic.
    • Pew Research also offers some key facts about the nation’s 47.2 million Black Americans.
  • Three years after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis brought crowds into the streets for a summer of protests, Christian groups are quietly launching initiatives that address the still-fraught racial divisions among their members and in the wider society.

Columns, Opinions and Blogs


In the years since the killing of George Floyd, it has felt at times as though anti-racism is stuck in a feedback loop. We shout the same truth claims to burned-out supporters and entrenched opposers. Is it still really necessary, I ask myself, to repeat the A-B-C’s of social justice? Apparently it is.


Writing in Black Catholic Messenger, Dr. Ronald E. Smith dissects the nature of partisan political connotation and how we can move past division to advocate for the common good.

Women’s Place in the Church


“Though they are pillars of communities, women are often forgotten and invisible,” said Sister Anne-Béatrice on the event of March 8 International Women’s Day. The opinion item was reprinted recently in La Croix International.


On women’s leadership in New Testament. ‘It’s not that we’re trying to rewrite history. It’s simply that women have been obscured,’ said Beth Allison Barr, the James Vardaman Professor of History at Baylor University and author of the 2022 book “The Making of Biblical Womanhood: How the Subjugation of Women Became Gospel Truth.”


How did male headship become core to the SBC identity? Katelyn Beaty, a pastor’s wife, writes a regular column the Beaty Beat.


While some Baptists debate about women preaching, others listen to women preach. Brian Kaylor, a Baptist, is president of Word&Way and writes about faith and culture at the newsletter A Public Witness. Focusing almost entirely on the SBC not only minimizes the theological (and political and racial) diversity of Baptists, but it also privileges a patriarchal body over others.

I want to be Clarence Thomas’ travel agent

Michael Sean Winters writes columns and opinion items for National Catholic Reporter, and digs into the ethics questions surrounding gifts to a Supreme Court Justice.

Also in the news

  • Halal nail polish raises complex discussions. Making sure water can reach the surface of the nail tip at any time, even with a manicure, is important to many Muslim consumers. A recent test found none of a collection of new products let water seep through despite advertising to the contrary.
  • A Texas town’s United Methodists charter a new church. After all seven United Methodist churches in this city in the Texas Panhandle voted to leave the country’s second-largest Protestant denomination, an 83-year-old UMC minister became determined that the UMC wouldn’t become extinct in Amarillo.

Long read: What is Life?

How would scientists even recognize biological signs of life beyond Earth? Assembly theory proposes a way to identify molecules made by living systems—even those using unfamiliar chemistries.It is a question that has perplexed scientists and philosophers for millennia: What is life, anyway?

The Last Word: Texting with Jesus

If you ever wondered how Jonah felt while he was trapped inside the whale’s stomach for three days, why Solomon had so many wives or why Judas betrayed Jesus, a new app called Text with Jesus is your chance to ask for yourself.
Launched in July, the app replicates an instant messaging platform, with biblical figures impersonated by the artificial intelligence program ChatGPT.

Support Wisdom Wednesday

We hope you have enjoyed this roundup of recent news about faith, politics, and culture. We will return next week with another edition of Wisdom Wednesday.

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