Wisdom Wednesday | December 15th

Among many offerings today, Wisdom Wednesday asks three questions: When has the Vatican ever apologized for anything? Answer: It just happened for New Ways Ministry. How many African Americans have been beatified or canonized? Answer: None. What was Pope Paul VI describing by the phase, “lamentable defection”? Answer: a priest or a nun has had sex – but Vincent Doyle asks a follow-up question: When will Rome acknowledge the reality of a “procreative lamentable defection”?

We have quite a list of provocative articles today, from Covid anger to sacred marijuana, and the latest survey of young people and where their faith is founded. Also, items about “satanic panic”, liberation theology, and the answer to yet another question in the news: “It was Ivanka.”

Faith Leaders

Before we get to the Q and A, we pause to remember the passing of an AUSCP friend, the insightful Father Donald Cozzens who received the St. John XXIII Award from us in 2015. We note that some faith leaders have been arrested as they protest in support of the “Build Back Better” initiative, and faith leaders are among the compassionate responders to the death and destruction caused by tornados in Kentucky and other states.

Now, that apology.

An official from the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops’ office has apologized for removing a link to a video by the Catholic LGBTQ outreach organization New Ways Ministries and re-published the original video.

The apology is seen as evidence that Roman Catholic Church leaders are “becoming aware of how their decisions impact LGBTQ lives.”

A related note: Advocates and theologians who study issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity are criticizing a Michigan diocese’s policy that restricts LGBTQ Catholics from the sacraments and church leadership positions.

Sainthood: A black and white issue?

First, a ceremony in a cathedral sparkling with a multi-million-dollar renovation was held for a woman who did not want to be a saint and who chose poverty.

Meanwhile, Venerables Augustus Tolton, Henriette DeLille, and Pierre Toussaint, as well as Servants of God Julia Greeley, Mary Lange, and Thea Bowman have been waiting collectively for 714 years to advance toward beatification. The Black Catholic Messenger reports on the extended delay that has been a source of consternation for years among many African-American Catholics.

Also a significant note: In many ways, Black people in the United States are more religious than Americans of other races. This is especially true for immigrants from sub-Saharan Africa, who tend to be more religious than U.S.-born Black adults or immigrants from the Caribbean, according to a new analysis of a Pew Research Center survey.

‘Lamentable’: Straying from celibacy

Pope Saint Paul referred to priests and religious straying from their celibacy vows and chastity promises as the “lamentable defection”. Vincent Doyle writes, “I see this phrase itself [as] lamentable, however, borrowing it from Sacerdotalis Caelibatus, lamentable defection becomes the “procreative lamentable defection”: If the Pope is real about zero tolerance, he will say the words “children of the ordained” publicly.

Fighting for Democracy

President Joe Biden convoked a two-day virtual summit on promoting democracy Dec 9. Michael Sean Winters writes “we are fighting for democracy . . . the fight is proving difficult, and Biden’s Catholic faith has something to offer the cause.”

Climate Crisis

The impact in 193 countries, from the New York Times

Pope Francis

Advent reflection

Robert P Jones writes: If we take the Incarnation seriously, we have a responsibility to build a theology where all of humanity is assumed in the body of Jesus.

Marijuana and religious freedom

For Rastafari, the ritualistic smoking of marijuana brings them closer to the divine. But for decades, many have been incarcerated because of their use of cannabis. As public opinion and policy continues to shift in the U.S. and across the world toward legalization of the drug for both medical and recreational purposes, Rastafari are clamoring for broader relaxation to curtail persecution and ensure freedom of worship.

COVID-19 and rising anger

  • Two-thirds (67%) of vaccinated Americans agree they are “angry at those who are refusing to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and are putting the rest of us at risk,” including 39% who completely agree
  • More than 7 in 10 (71%) unvaccinated Americans say they are “angry at those who think they have the right to tell me to get vaccinated against COVID-19,” including 44% who completely agree.
  • Source and full article from Pew Research Center

A “journey together” for only half of us

The early weeks of the synod’s diocesan phase in the United States so far reveal an uneven response to Francis’ vision of a more decentralized, listening and discerning church that “journeys together.” As of mid-December, only about half of the 176 dioceses in the United States had appointed a “local synod coordinator,” said Richard Coll, the executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development.

The “satanic panic” revisited

Correlations are now being drawn between the 1980s satanic panic and today’s climate. Just as in the 1980s, ultra-conservative politics have re-emerged in reaction to progressive movements. Growing alongside that trend is the birth of a new brand of extremist Christian nationalism, a political ideology that “advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture,” according to sociologists Samuel Perry and Andrew Whitehead.

Liberation Theology

Leonardo Boff turned 83 on December 14, so it seems to be a good time to reflect again on the life and work of the Brazilian theologian. He entered the Franciscan order in 1959 and was ordained in 1964. During the next six years he studied for his doctorate in theology at the University of Munich. It was a period of time that was to lay the foundations of what came to be known as “Liberation Theology”.

Read more HERE.

It was Ivanka

A new book by former President Donald Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows details the infamous Bible photo-op at St. John’s during summer’s racial justice protests sparked by the murder of George Floyd. Meadows said it was Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, who came up with the idea to “send a message to people of faith.”

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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