What a week! America’s newest cardinal urges fellow bishops to take political action regarding aid to Ukraine – while a columnist says the U.S. bishops “spent less time on the Gospel than on internal church affairs. Wisdom Wednesday includes the “queen of Christian pop,” among celebrities who put their faith on a national stage. Saints “aren’t just in heaven, they can also be found in a bar,” said a speaker Sunday. And did you hear what French dioceses have done together?
Here’s a question you never expected: Do men have a place in the Church? That’s coming up, but first, Religion News Service reports that America’s newest cardinal – Cardinal Robert McElroy of San Diego — has called on his fellow bishops to challenge lawmakers who want to cut Ukraine aid, urging prelates to speak out against leaders of a Republican majority in the next Congress angling to reduce U.S. support for the country as it battles Russian invaders.
Here’s the commentary about “the confusing path of the US Catholic bishops.” It comes from a well-respected source, Phyllis Zagano. She says, “At their fall plenary meeting, the bishops spent less time on the Gospel than on internal church matters.”
Faith on stage
Last Sunday, at the Kennedy Center Honors, Don Cheadle described actor George Clooney as “a man of peace, an inspiration.” He said, “And you prove that saints aren’t just in heaven, they can also be found in a bar.” Religion News Service gathered this quotation and many others about faith at the national event. Singer and songwriter Amy Grant was honored, marking the first time the top cultural distinction was given to a contemporary Christian musician.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court is being warned about the potentially dire consequences of a case next week involving a Christian graphic artist who objects to designing wedding websites for same-sex couples. Some observers fear a ruling could expose not only same-sex couples but also Black people, immigrants, Jews, Muslims and others to discrimination.
In 2016, Indiana passed legislation that assumes a fetus is a person. State law now requires medical facilities to bury or cremate any fetal tissue in their possession, as opposed to disposing of it by standard medical means. In late September a federal judge found that the law violates the religious liberty of two women who challenged it under the First Amendment’s free exercise clause. An appeal is expected, so look for Doe v. Indiana to be decided by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals sometime next year. In due course, it is likely to join a slew of other religious liberty suits pushing back against anti-abortion laws.
Religion on national and family level
Ukraine on Friday banned the activities of religious organizations “affiliated with centers of influence” in Russia and said it would examine the links between the Ukrainian and Russian Orthodox churches.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration on Friday placed a well-known Russian paramilitary organization on a list of religious freedom violators alongside a number of notorious terrorist organizations. Secretary of State The Wagner Group is an “entity of particular concern” for its activities in the Central African Republic. Also on the list are Afghanistan’s Taliban, Nigeria’s Boko Haram, Somalia’s al-Shabab and two factions of the Islamic State group.
Closer to home, columnist Jeffrey Salkin provides an account of a family’s troubles.
A man came to see me in my office, very distraught. His two adult daughters have cut off all communication with him. Because they disagree politically. The parents are conservative; the children are far left. They have accused their parents of being racist, misogynistic, etc.”
Interdiocesan criminal canonical court
The leaders of the 99 Catholic dioceses in France have set up a centralized Church tribunal at the national level, becoming the first country in the world to create a single “interdiocesan criminal canonical court” on such a large scale. The project, which has been in the works for nearly two years and was postponed several times, was launched on Monday and is being carefully watched by the Vatican. It was originally conceived as part of a more effective way to deal with Church-related sexual abuse.
A writer for La Croix International reports that Pope Francis offered his opinion on allowing women priests in the Catholic Church. He is not in favor of it. But the pope’s response opens some questions.
Bob Mickens says the pope has raised “more than just eyebrows with interviews and off-the-cuff comments.” Russia’s foreign minister has accused Francis of making “un-Christian” remarks and one of Ireland’s former women presidents says he’s speaking “misogynistic drivel”.
Dissidents in Russian-allied Belarus question the Vatican’s dialogue with authoritarians.
A report on that dinner – the former president, a celebrity and a Christian nationalist.
The Biden administration is still actively searching for ways to safeguard abortion access for millions of women, even as it bumps up against a complex web of strict new state laws enacted in the months after the Supreme Court stripped the constitutional right.
A million extinct species?
Nations are gathering in Canada this week to complete a global, once-in-a-decade conservation pact to protect ecosystems amid increasing threats to biodiversity and warnings that upwards of 1 million species could face extinction by century’s end.
A December calendar
Back from last week! Check out the following entries from an Interfaith Calendar, for the month of December. Some unfamiliar names and traditions are included – perhaps an augmented context for the usual lame greeting, Happy Holidays.
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