Wisdom Wednesday | January 4th

AUSCP NewsJanuary 4Roundup

Welcome to a brief January 4 issue of Wisdom Wednesday. As is often the focus of early January thinking, like the two faces of Janus, we look back and we look forward. Of course we first look at the present day, and the central event of religious news: the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

The Death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI

Pope Francis will preside over the funeral of retired Pope Benedict XVI at 9:30 a.m. (Rome time) on Jan. 5, 2023, in St. Peter’s Square. Vatican spokesperson Matteo Bruni said the funeral will take place with “simplicity,” as requested by the retired pope.

Who was Benedict XVI? Here is who he was, according to his Vatican biography, which includes links to letters, encyclicals and other documents.

At the Vatican, crowds lined up to pay their respect.

The Laudato Si Movement referred to Benedict as “the Green Pope.” They write:

Ending the climate crisis and caring for creation weren’t top priorities for Pope Benedict XVI during his eight-year papacy, at least not in the way they have been for Pope Francis. But Pope Benedict XVI did his successor and the world a service by frequently speaking out against destruction to the environment and building on the Catholic Church’s history of caring for creation.”

Looking back

Pope Benedict examined his life and prepared his final testament years ago. Catholic News Service reported that his final message to Catholics around the world included a prayer for forgiveness and his plea: “Stand firm in the faith! Do not let yourselves be confused!”

If you or your congregation are counting on cash donations, here is a striking finding from last year: Four out of 10 Americans no longer use cash in any given week.That’s one of the key findings from 2022 by Pew Research.

The number of international migrants grew to 281 million in 2020, meaning that 3.6% of the world’s people lived outside their country of birth that year,

The Christian Century reports that some churches are starting the long process of reckoning with their role in the horrors of Indigenous boarding schools.

Looking ahead

At NCR, Michael Sean Winters makes three predictions about what will make church news in 2023:The synodal process, anti-Francis sentiment and the U.S. hierarchy.

The third Monday of January – January 16 this year — is the date to observe the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process, says Massimo Faggioli. The current synodal process initiated by Pope Francis’ pontificate cannot be understood outside of the epoch-changing abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, one of the “signs of the times” the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II talks about.

And something timeless

Elizabeth Dias, religion writer at the New York Times, explores the complicated, polarizing way people regard the start of life. The question is at the heart of America’s abortion debate.

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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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