Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. This week, “WW” stands for the Wide World! We recall the pope’s advice to youth, to make a “mess” as we look ahead to World Youth Day in Portugal. Christopher White is counting bathroom stalls for the Synod at the Vatican, and a French mushroom farm is thriving in a vacated church. As court battles continue over abortion and gender identity, it is life-or-death decision time for a Pennsylvania jury. The devil’s music is coming to Indianapolis (equal treatment following a Christian concert) and Thomas Reese compares God and Batman.
First, a novena in progress, as Archbishops John Wester of Santa Fe and Paul Etienne of Seattle who represent two major nuclear strongholds in the United States, are on a Pilgrimage of Peace. They want to establish an ecclesial and personal relationship with the bishops of Japan to work toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. They will be escorted by Hirokazu Miyazaki, Anthropology Professor at Northwestern University and Peace Correspondent for Nagasaki.
Opposing a public religious school
A group of parents, faith leaders and a public education nonprofit sued Monday to stop Oklahoma from establishing and funding what would be the nation’s first religious public charter school.
Out of state abortion
Abortion rights advocates in Alabama — where abortion is almost entirely illegal — filed lawsuits Monday against the state’s attorney general seeking to prevent him from prosecuting people who help patients travel outside the state to end pregnancies.
New laws, Fargo defiance
The Associated Press reported on new laws prior to their effective date, as New North Dakota laws now forbid transgender girls and women from participating on school sports teams matching their gender identity, restrict sex amendments on birth records and bar transgender people from using restrooms and showers in correctional facilities and public college dormitories.
Meanwhile the Fargo School Board indicated it will defy another new law that prohibits transgender K-12 students from using restrooms aligning with their gender identity.
Life or death for killer
A jury is set to deliberate whether to impose the death penalty or a sentence of life in prison without parole on a man who spewed antisemitic hate before fatally shooting 11 worshippers at a synagogue in the heart of Pittsburgh’s Jewish community.
World Youth Day
At 86, Francis will now be the oldest pope to preside over a World Youth Day celebration. At National Catholic News, Christopher White reports it could reinvigorate him.
Make a ‘mess’
When Pope Francis made the first foreign trip of his papacy, to Rio de Janeiro for World Youth Day in 2013, he urged young people to make a “mess” in their local churches, to shake things up even if it ruffled the feathers of their bishops. As he embarks this week on another edition of World Youth Day, in Lisbon, Portugal, Francis in many ways has taken his own advice to heart.
A ‘Rebounding Pope Francis’
Pope Francis will make a two-day trip to Marseille, France, in late September, adding to a flurry of trips the 86-year-old pontiff will soon be making only weeks after leaving hospital following abdominal surgery. (From a Associated Press story published by NCR.)
Too much mercy?
Pope Francis has been criticized by some people, including some cardinals, for talking too much about God’s mercy and not enough about God’s justice. We want God to be like Batman says Thomas Reese. “Deep in our hearts, we want God to beat up our enemies and punish evildoers.”
Restrooms at the Synod
Of the 363 members who will be able to vote at this October’s synod, 54 are women and more than a quarter of all the voting members are non-bishops — both historic firsts. Christopher White noted that during an event earlier this summer inside the Vatican’s synod hall, “I noticed that the restrooms just off of the main exit included eight stalls for men and two for women.” A change is gonna come!
Florida Black history standards condemned
The nation’s largest Black Catholic organization honed in on Gov. Ron DeSantis’ defense of new public ed standards that characterize slavery as beneficial. The report is from Black Catholic Messenger.
Meanwhile, the oldest historically Black collegiate fraternity in the U.S. says it is relocating a planned convention in two years from Florida because of what it described as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ administration’s “harmful, racist and insensitive” policies towards African Americans.
Young Black Catholics
A new HBCU Catholic student initiative was launched by a coalition of advisors on Saturday, July 22, during the 2023 National Black Catholic Congress, where young adults and college students met and discussed their experiences as young Black Catholics in the Church. Their unique gathering took place during a special session at St. Joseph Seminary in Washington, D.C.
- Jerry Falwell Jr. is suing Liberty University for using his father’s likeness.
- Morocco defender Nouhaila Benzina made history wearing a hijab at a senior-level Women’s World Cup.
- At her passing, some regard Sinéad O’Connor as a prophet and recall how she tore up a picture of Pope John Paul II on “Saturday Night Live.”
- Belief in the devil is declining, but after a Christian musician brought his God and Country concert to the Indiana Statehouse, Hoosier members of the Satanic Temple demanded access for a concert of their own
A Protestant pastor is hard to find
If you are on a search committee in a mainline Protestant church looking for a new pastor, or a denominational administrator trying to find Sunday pulpit-supply clergy, you probably already know this: The clergy job market is a train wreck. As older clergy get set to retire, there are few younger seminarians to replace them — and few churches that can afford to pay them.
Author to Evangelicals: ‘Stop lying’
In new book, Russell Moore urges evangelicals to stop lying and come back to Jesus. Once a rising star among Southern Baptists, Moore lost his job after criticizing Donald Trump and standing by abuse survivors. He took a new role at Christianity Today, where he is now the editor-in-chief.
Irish means Catholic, unless you are a Mormon
Irish Mormons face dwindling numbers, but researcher finds their community inspirational.
Affirmative action in Brazil.
Frei David Santos, OFM, has spent the last 30 years fighting to increase access to higher education for Black and impoverished students in Brazil. But 46 years ago, he didn’t even see himself as Black.
The turmoil in Israel and the deep political fissures laid bare by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s judicial overhaul are challenging U.S.-Israeli relations to an unprecedented degree, many longtime experts in the relationship say.
Dam removal to restore flow
The largest dam removal project in the history of the U.S., which includes four dams from the Klamath River, has begun along the California-Oregon border and will be finished in 2024. Restoring its natural flow and habitat, however, will take decades.
Mushrooms and other church uses
Le Champignon Urbain is one of a growing number of projects breathing new life into churches across France that would otherwise fall into ruin. From Nantes to Angers, Rouen to Caen, some of France’s most historic religious establishments are being transformed into concert venues, hotels, and nightclubs.
Protecting holy scriptures
Denmark’s foreign minister said Sunday the government will seek to make it illegal to desecrate the Quran or other religious holy books in front of foreign embassies in the Nordic country. Meanwhile, The Organization for Islamic Cooperation is urging its member nations to take action against countries that permit public burning or desecration of the Quran, including the recalling of ambassadors.
Austria accepting Nazi role
Among many Austrians, there remains a widespread sentiment that their country was Adolf Hitler’s “first victim,” annexed by Nazi Germany in 1938—whereas in fact Austria was joined with, not conquered by, the Third Reich, and its Gentile citizens were treated as the equals of Germans. Hans Hochstöger has made a contribution to this effort toward acknowledgment with his film Endphase, which was recently screened in the UK for the first time.
The blind walk and the lame see
Joan Chittester cites Imam Jamal Rahman’s Sacred Laughter of the Sufis, where he tells a story that may have as much to teach us today as it taught the desert Sufis centuries ago – how a blind man and a lame man were able to travel to attend the king’s banquet. Chittester says both men were able to be an active part of their society. Both could bring their own gifts to it. It’s the kind of story this country needs more and more every day.
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.
If you’d like to support our continued work to bring you wisdom each week, please consider making a donation. Your support provides the breath that makes our voice heard in the U.S. and beyond.
The AUSCP is a 501c3 organization and your donation is tax-deductible.