Welcome to another Wednesday of seeking wisdom. As the Beatles said, You know it’s not easy. The war in Gaza continues to dominate the news, focusing on the seemingly impossible task of respecting Jewish or Palestinian humanity without a total condemnation of one or the other. Hanukkah 2023 adds urgency to these questions as 1 in 5 young Americans think the Holocaust was a myth.
This week we have questions about cremation and the Vatican answers. The Season of Advent and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe offer pegs for news and views, and a new book examines the business decisions made by some faith leaders to profit from extremism. Among memorable quotations this week: If the incarnation of the Word points to anything, it’s the possibility that God works in and through our cultural and political and social realities, not beyond them.
We include items from several viewpoints on the war, but we begin this week with a look ahead, with a report on the document sent just this week to all the bishops in the world, provided by the Vatican. Preparing for 2024 Synod. Towards a synodal and missionary Church.
Bishops from across world have just received a document with instructions from the Secretariat of the Synod accompanied by a letter from Cardinals Mario Grech (the General Secretary) and Jean-Claude Hollerich (the Relator General).
Vatican News reports on “Preparing for 2024 Synod. Towards a synodal and missionary Church.” Churches are now called to reflect on the Synthesis Report published in October 2023, to promote further consultation and to prepare contributions for next year’s assembly.
What’s in a name? Synod of Bishops or the People of God. Here is a view from Australia.
The dates of the holiday are based on the Hebrew month of Kislev, which usually coincides with November-December in the Gregorian calendar. This year, Hanukkah will be celebrated from Dec. 7 through Dec. 15. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin says the public display of the menorah is now more important than ever.
Holocaust survivors are marking Hanukkah amid worries over war in Israel and the global rise of antisemitism. A menorah lighting on Monday night paid tribute to the 6 million European Jews killed by the Nazis in the Holocaust.
The Hill reports that 1 in 5 young Americans think Holocaust was a myth
Reports of antisemitic incidents across the United States have soared in the two months since the deadly Oct. 7 attack by Hamas militants on Israel sparked a brutal war in the Gaza Strip, according to new data released Monday by the Anti-Defamation League. The group calls the rise “unprecedented.”
The nation’s capital played host to another wave of faith-led protests on Monday calling for a cease-fire in Gaza, hours before the White House’s scheduled Hanukkah celebration.
As thousands of Israelis gathered in Tel Aviv Nov. 24 to celebrate the return of the first batch of hostages freed amid Israel’s ceasefire agreement with Hamas, the crowd broke into applause at the sight of a group of men, sheikhs in long, flowing robes and white turbans. These were not leaders of Israel’s Arab Muslim minority but of the Druze, a religion that holds reverence for not only Muhammad, Jesus and figures of the Hebrew Bible such as Jethro, but also for Greek philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato as prophets.
A strong opinion piece insists that Anti-Zionism is not antisemitism. The column, Islam Beyond Phobia, says equating the two is designed to stifle criticism and instill fear in those who speak out, Jews and non-Jews alike. Omar Suleiman is the writer.
Survey: Spiritual but not religious
Most Americans are spiritual but a growing number say they are not religious. Among the spiritual but not religious, 38% say religion does more harm than good, while just 7% of religious Americans share this view.
Uncertain times for Orthodox Christians in Ukraine
Clergy and lay people of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church have been historically linked to the Moscow Patriarchate, which lawmakers in Kyiv are moving to ban, as they struggle to adapt in wartime.
Our Lady of Guadalupe
The Church in Canada marked the annual National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous Peoples on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. News from the Vatican.
It seems that awareness of the Christian season of Advent is at an all-time high — but arguably for all the wrong reasons — commandeered for a wide variety of commercial purposes. For example, a certain retailer of European origin has packaged Advent beer — one to try for each day of the season. A reflective column from the Global Sisters Report.
Bob Mickens says it seems that with each passing year, the Christmas decorations appear earlier and earlier in Rome. Ever since the Italians started celebrating Halloween a decade or so ago, more and more shop keepers and other businesses here now follow the crazy trend that started long ago in United States (among other places) and pull out their holiday lights, trees and other Christmas paraphernalia almost immediately after the October 31st trick or treating has ended. This year, even the Vatican started assembling its life-size Nativity Scene in St. Peter’s Square and hoisted its lofty Christmas tree several days before Advent ever began.
Tim Alberta has a new book on +evangelical extremism and the pastors who profit from it.” He says, “I have walked away from long, searching interviews convinced they’ve made a decision, a business decision, to indulge a lot of foolishness.
Abortion decision in Arizona
After months of disarray over the legality of abortion, the state supreme court will decide whether to reinstate a ‘zombie’ ban.
The draft climate deal was criticised as ‘grossly insufficient’ and ‘incoherent’ – so the text now being considered by governments calls for ‘reducing both consumption and production of fossil fuels’
Permanent supportive housing is a key part of addressing chronic homelessness, but programs need more funding and support from the federal government and local communities, advocates and homelessness experts told NCR.
Interview on sexual and labor trafficking
Sr. Seli Thomas, a member of the Sisters of Mary Immaculate from India, works as a lawyer, working to rescue women from networks that profit from sexual and labor trafficking. An interview with her was provided by Global Sisters Report.
Review: “Preaching Racial Justice” sheds ecumenical light on a growing need, from Black Catholic Messenger.
Ashes to Ashes
Keep them in a sacred place? Mixed with others? In response to questions proposed by Archbishop Matteo Zuppi, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith provided answers this week about what to do after cremation.
No longer Black or White?
Perhaps the neither/nor of Galatians 3 isn’t really about moving beyond specific identities. A column in the Christian Century examines the Scripture. In a world marred by the violence of a White racial imagination and the aftershocks of a White supremacist presidency, these words from Galatians 3:28 are often evoked in a spirit of hope.