Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. Pope Francis is back at his balcony, Muslims are beginning their annual pilgrimage, and the ugly word, schism, is popping up in popular writing. But this week we begin on a joyful note as we celebrate the Feast of St. Mary of Magdala. We also introduce you to Our Lady of La Vang, considered the Vietnamese equivalent of Our Lady of Guadalupe. More and more people seem to be just staying at home – or at least, some place other than church.
News from the week
Earlier this week, the Women’s Moral Monday March on Washington, organized by leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, marked the anniversary of the 1848 Seneca Falls Women’s Convention. It was the first women’s rights convention in the U.S. and a landmark moment in the fight for women’s suffrage. On Sunday, the co-chair of Poor People’s Campaign was among nearly 100 women arrested at march for voting rights in D.C., according to a report from Religion News Service.
Two weeks after his surgery, Pope Francis is back at his balcony window. The National Catholic Reporter notes that the pope did not mention his ongoing convalescence but he did stress the value of taking a break.
Now, that ugly word
A Wall Street Journal essayist recently asked, “Is Pope Francis Leading the Church to a Schism?” We are not including that item here because it is restricted to paid subscribers.
However, we offer several articles on the topic.
First, from Msgr. Kevin Irwin, in NCR:
Whatever actions people take will simply unmask the silent schism that has taken place and continues in the American Catholic Church over a number of things, including liturgical preferences.”
Andrea Grillo, writing in La Croix International, says:
Pope Francis, son of the [Second Vatican] Council, has had the good sense and wisdom to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ He has wisely opened a new phase in which the quality of the ritual act is played out on a single table . . . .”
Catholic leaders in France say Francis has issued “a demanding call for the whole Church to an authentic Eucharistic renewal.”
And the last word on this topic comes from James Martin in America, “Making sense of Pope Francis’ new restrictions on the Latin Mass.”
Here is a common thread with a twist – about going or not going:
Muslims are going on pilgrimage, Jews are going to the Holy Mount, and some Christians are not going back to church.
Hundreds of Jewish pilgrims visited the Temple Mount on Sunday, under heavy police guard, shortly after Muslim worshippers briefly clashed with Israeli security forces at the flashpoint shrine. It is the holiest site in Judaism, and also home to the Al Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam.
Meanwhile, a scaled-down Hajj 2021 officially begins, according the Aljazeera News.
The Associated Press reports on the pandemic shadow over the Muslim “Feast of Sacrifice.” Eid al-Adha is typically marked by communal prayers, large social gatherings, slaughtering of livestock and giving meat to the needy.
The mere act of lifting the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation as the coronavirus pandemic eases won’t be enough to get Catholics to come back to church. Mark Pattison, in a Catholic News Service article, reports on some dioceses and Catholics actively working to bring people back.
Deseret News reports on two Christian pastors who went virtual during the pandemic and are considering never going back. One says being online means being unencumbered by financial concerns that come with maintaining a facility, noting that the congregation is free to focus on values — like social justice and spiritual formation — rather than the bottom line.
Catholics at the Olympics won’t be going to church. The Tokyo archbishop has reacted to the COVID-19 surge, and parishes have canceled all the plans they had made.
In California, thousands of Vietnamese Catholics gathered for the unveiling of a Lady of La Vang shrine. One woman says, “It’s like the Lady of Guadalupe for the Vietnamese community. That’s how big it is.” The article continues:
Our Lady of La Vang is said to have appeared in a remote rainforest in the late 1700s to a group of Catholics fleeing persecution in Vietnam. She became a centerpiece of Catholic faith in the country, and, after the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 — when more than a million Vietnamese became refugees — her intercession was credited with sparing the lives of her devotees.
And finally, meet Heidi Nicholl, a woman is not going to any church, but now leads the recently formed “Humanists Australia.” She is profiled in The Guardian.
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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