Happy New Year, it’s Advent!
As our new liturgical year begins, Wisdom Wednesday offers an article by Thomas Reese in Religion News Service, noting that the feast of Jesus’ birth began by co-opting a pagan holiday. Today, it has been co-opted by pagan capitalism.
Not long ago, the word “synodality” was rarely used. Now it seems to be everywhere – used by church reform groups, women’s issues writers, and various national bishops’ bodies.
A global coalition of national church reform groups committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council is advocating for Pope Francis to replace the Synod of Bishops with an Assembly of all the People of God that reflects the diversity of the church.
From reports on the initial stages of the synodal process in various countries it is becoming clear that one issue that must be on the eventual agenda is “the role of women in the Church“. That anodyne wording represents an attempt to enter gently onto a subject that is surely fraught. The subtext, as just about anyone will realize, is the “ordination of women”.
The French bishops are meeting at the world-famous Marian shrine of Lourdes this week for their fall assembly. The meeting comes one month after the publication of the devastating report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) and just two weeks after the launch of the synodal process to prepare for the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops.
Nearly 1,000 church leaders — lay and religious — from Latin America and the Caribbean called for a more inclusive and synodal church, one that pays attention to people’s realities, opens increased roles for women and excluded groups, combats clericalism and continues taking the Gospel to the peripheries of society.
Although bishops from the region had met in historic meetings five previous times, the Nov. 21-28 Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean was the first such meeting to include laity.
Before we leave this topic, have you been invited into synodal activities in your local church? Or do you minister to groups or individuals who feel left out? The AUSCP and the Catholic Community of the South are working together to promote a kind of do-it-yourself synodal program. Check it out on our website.
Pope Francis’ Dec. 2-6 trip to Cyprus and Greece will serve as an opportunity to boost some of the signature themes of his papacy: migration, synodality and ecumenical outreach.
Pope Francis has also issued an invitation to join the Laudato Si’ Action Platform.
Today is the day. As the Supreme Court considers an abortion case, Michael Sean Winters says,
As Catholics, we must always oppose the taking of human life. As Catholics, we must always defend the inherent dignity of women and affirm their rights.” He goes on to say, “I have long believed that any effort to change the law before we in the pro-life movement had changed the culture would be doomed to fail. We must make abortion unthinkable and unnecessary before making it illegal. How to get there?”
Serious Reading (and good listening)
I understood we were all like dogs. They told us to sit and we sat, to get up and we got up, to roll over and we rolled over,”
said an Australia-born religious identified only as “Sister Elizabeth” in the book, Veil of Silence. The book tries to lift the veil on abuse within women’s religious communities: a challenging theme, described in the Global Sisters Report.
Massimo Faggioli writes about a new kind of nastiness in an anti-Pope Francis book recently released. It is a crisis in urgent need of a Catholic-to-Catholic ecumenism, according to Faggioli, writing for Commonweal.
A new book, Ladder to the Light, offers hope for light in times of darkness, from a Native American Approach. Rev. Stephon Charleston, an indigenous elder and episcopal priest, was interviewed by Religion News Service.
Praying to the West, Omar Mouallem’s new book, looks at 13 mosques across North and South America and how Muslims developed their diverse identity on the continents. The opening chapter visits a Brazilian city, the site of an important Muslim slave revolt in the 19th century. As many as one-third of all Africans brought to the New World as slaves were Muslims.
A new biography of the Prophet Muhammad takes a narrative-driven approach to depicting the life of Islam’s key figure. In his new book, biographer Mohamad Jebara takes long-established sources and weaves them together for a fresh telling of a familiar story.
I saw Uighurs sharing music & laughing — amid much pain,”
writes Li Keira Yin in a personal essay. Curious about her family’s roots, she visited a remote region of China where minority Uighurs celebrated and laughed despite repression and a pandemic.
In a podcast, two Jesuit priests document their ministry along the southern border. ‘The Jesuit Border Podcast‘ documents the stories of migrants, advocates and organizations the Revs. Brian Strassburger and Louie Hotop encounter along both sides of the US-Mexico border.
A song in honor of Dorothy Day: Eric Krewson and the band, The Chairman Dances, wrote a song celebrating the friendship of Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin. The song will shortly be on the way to the Vatican with other material gathered for her sainthood cause.
New music for Christmas: U.S. Catholic offers some suggestions to expand your listening list, including the engaging “Ain’t no Chimneys in the Projects” — from a Holiday Soul Party.
The Archdiocese of Washington and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University are inviting young people to join an online dialogue: Can social media can be a place for engagement and finding common ground on issues of faith and public life? RSVP for the dialogue “Social Media: Real Connection or the Illusion of Communication?” on Dec 2 at 7pm EST.
bit.ly/SocialMediaCST @WashArchdiocese @GUcstpubliclife
Hanukkah is an annual eight-day Jewish holiday, also known as the Festival of Lights or Feast of Dedication, which takes place on the 25th of Kislev in the Jewish calendar, usually between late November and late December on the Gregorian calendar. In 2021, Hanukkah began on the evening of November 28 and ends on December 6. Learn more about the history and traditions of Hanukkah.
Israeli archaeologists have discovered a 2,100-year-old stronghold they believe constitutes physical evidence of the years long armed conflict whose crucial battle is celebrated by Jews today during Hanukkah.
More for Advent
There will always be bad news. But it need not overwhelm or deter us. As Christians, we’re supposed to see things differently. Merton said it well: it’s into this grim, broken world, ‘this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, that Christ comes unbidden.”
Commonweal editors invite you to find “The Great Joy” in pondering events then and now. Make way for the Good News.
A Sign of Progress: Religious groups and faith leaders across the country said the verdict in the Ahmaud Arbery case — that found all three white men charged in his death guilty of murder — is a sign of progress, even as they mourned Arbery’s death and said the church must continue to work toward justice and racial healing.
Perhaps taking time is the most important part of Advent. The Advent calendar is a way to do that — to slow down and focus one’s reflection every day. Nancy Sylvester offers some thoughts about her own calendar.
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.
Until next week, please follow us on social media with the buttons below to make sure you don’t miss the latest news from the AUSCP!