Wisdom Wednesday | June 28th

AUSCP NewsJune 28Roundup

It’s Wisdom Wednesday. Or “WW” might be better said as “What a Week!” Since the instrumentum laboris for the Synod was released June 20, the world is spinning. The Synod document has set the stage for wide-ranging debate on women, Catholic ministries and structures. Meanwhile, women-led Baptist churches are expelled from the SBC.

Knoxville’s Bishop Stika has resigned. The Vatican has investigated Texas Bishop Strickland. The US Supreme Court is poised to release major decisions.

The Largest Hajj pilgrimage in history” is under way in Saudi Arabia.

AUSCP member, Fr. Peter Daly, is back from Ukraine and says Putin must answer for his war crimes.

Among Pew Research findings: inflation, health costs and partisan cooperation are among the nation’s top problems; Catholic churches have the worst preaching and music in the country; and twelve percent of young adults are bisexual.

Cardinal Tagle’s in Congo, where bishops seek to expand Eucharistic Devotion.

It’s a big week for the Supreme Court, and we have a link for trustworthy reporting on court decisions any time, from the Associated Press. (Breaking Tuesday,

“Supreme Court Rejects Theory That Would Have Transformed American Elections.”

The 6-3 majority dismissed the “independent state legislature” theory, which would have given state lawmakers nearly unchecked power over federal elections.

Bishop News

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Bishop Richard Stika, the embattled leader of the Diocese of Knoxville, following a tumultuous two-year period in which the diocese was subject to a Vatican investigation and multiple lawsuits over its handling of abuse cases.

The Vatican has launched a formal investigation of the east Texas diocese led by Bishop Joseph Strickland, a diocesan spokeswoman has confirmed.  Strickland has said that Pope Francis is undermining the Deposit of Faith, and he endorsed a video attacking the pope as a “diabolically disordered clown.” This video is not for the faint-hearted.

The Synod

When prelates and lay delegates gather in October for the Synod of Bishops, they will be asked to confront pressing questions – questions instead of pre-written texts to consider. The questions include the possibility of women deacons, access to the priesthood for married men, the integration of LGBTQ+ Catholics, and penance for sexual abuse and the abuse of power. Church reformers are hopeful. The document was published June 20 at the Vatican.

Michael Sean Winters notes that “The first two things that jump out when reading the working document . . . for the forthcoming synod . . . are how much the document charts a new approach to a working document for an ecclesial synod and how deeply the document is in continuity with the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.” Instead of a draft of a final document, the instrumentum laboris asks a series of questions.

Southern Baptist Convention expels women-led churches

The Southern Baptist Convention — the largest Protestant Christian denomination in the country — voted at its annual meeting to uphold the expulsion of two churches led by women pastors: Fern Creek in Louisville, Kentucky, which has had Rev. Linda Barnes Popham as its pastor since 1993, and Saddleback Church, founded by pastor and “The Purpose Driven Life” author Rick Warren. The denomination also moved to expand an amendment to its constitution completely restricting all pastoral and elder roles only to men.

Pope: Still calling the shots

Bob Mickens reports: Pope Francis refuses to scale back his workload, despite post-surgery issues. The 86-year-old pope admits he’s experiencing shortness of breath, a lingering side-effect of anesthesia, but he’s doing everything he can to show he’s still calling the shots.

Hajj pilgrimage

The “largest Hajj pilgrimage in history” is under way to Mecca in Saudi Arabia – expecting to break records of more than 2.5 million, as one of the world’s largest religious gatherings returns to full capacity following years of coronavirus restrictions.

Supreme Court

The US Supreme Court is getting ready to decide some of its biggest cases of the term. (Editor’s note: Some decisions may be announced after this text was prepared and before it was published.) The high court has 10 opinions left to release before the justices begin their summer break. Among the most contentious issues are affirmative action, student loans and gay rights.

In a ruling last Friday the court upheld a section of federal law used to prosecute people who encourage illegal immigration, ruling against a California man who offered adult adoptions he falsely claimed would lead to U.S. citizenship. AP reports on recent decisions.

The Navajo Nation, already facing some of the most severe water scarcity in the drought-stricken Southwest, now has to deal with a Supreme Court ruling last week that will make securing water even harder for the 170,000 enrolled tribal members who live on its reservation.

Want to keep up with the Supreme Court? The Associated Press provides up-to-the-moment coverage of Supreme Court decisions. (If timing allows Wisdom Wednesday to miss a decision, check out the AP for trustworthy details.)

The Dobbs decision and abortion

In the year since the United States Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, eliminating a nearly 50-year federal right to abortion, the impact has been profound. The Christian Science Monitor examines the issues.

Before an adoring crowd of religious conservatives, Donald Trump marked the one-year anniversary of the end of Roe v. Wade by endorsing national abortion restrictions. A report from Yahoo.

War in Ukraine

Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi was due to land in Moscow on the evening of June 27, three weeks after his visit to Kiev. The pope’s emissary is expected to meet with Patriarch Kirill.

A National Catholic Reporter board member, David Bonior and an NCR contributor Fr. Peter Daly – a member of the AUSCP — traveled to Ukraine and Poland in March. This is one of several reports from that trip. “Putin should be made to answer for war crimes in Ukraine.”

Pew Research

Some recent polling findings from Pew Research Center:

Jesuit Father Thomas Reese, who will be a keynoter at the 2024 AUSCP Assembly in Lexington, examines some disturbing research findings. Protestant churches have always prided themselves on their preaching and music, especially non-Eucharistic churches that rely on the Bible alone to shape their Sunday services. Catholic churches have a deep eucharistic tradition — and the worst preaching and music in the country, according to Pew Research.

Should church music rely on AutoTune?

Marc Jolicoeur, worship and creative pastor at Moncton Wesleyan Church in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, says churches like his have paid more attention to how their music sounds online. That includes using Auto-Tune or other pitch-correcting software.

People in the news

Guillaume Bardet, a noted Paris-based designer, has been chosen to create the new altar, ambo and other fixtures in time for late 2024 reopening of the refurbished Notre Dame Cathedral.

Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee, was last seen leaving a music class in Rome on June 22, 1983. Pope Francis offered prayers Sunday for her family, an intervention her brother hailed as a sign the Vatican was finally engaging seriously with its most famous cold case.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein, the longtime personal secretary to Pope Benedict XVI, has been relieved of his duties as prefect of the papal household and sent home to Germany without an assignment, the Vatican announced on June 15.

Mother Mary Elizabeth Lange — a Black Catholic nun who founded the United States’ first African American religious congregation in Baltimore in 1829 — has advanced another step toward sainthood.

Delaware state Sen. Sarah McBride announced Monday she’s running for the U.S. House of Representatives. She would be the first transgender member of Congress if she wins in November.

The Rev. Sofía Betancourt, a womanist theologian, ethicist and minister who has served as interim co-president of the Unitarian Universalists, has been elected president. Religion News Service reports she is the first woman of color, openly queer president of the UUA.

The Rev. William Barber II spoke of “the testimony of the cripple,” in his final sermon as pastor of Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on Sunday (June 18). The sermon capped his 30-year tenure as pastor of the Disciples of Christ church in the mostly Black town about 50 miles southeast of Raleigh. Some consider him a successor to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Natalie Drew: Christian, trans woman, veteran and pacifist, is featured in an article published by Religion News service. “I get asked a lot, why do I stay?” said Drew, a wife and mother of two. “I stay because I truly believe Jesus Christ came, died and rose again the third day.”

Archbishop Alexander Sample of Portland, Oregon, has closed his archdiocesan Department of Catholic Schools amid backlash over a gender identity document for students. Nearly all oversight of Catholic schools across Western Oregon will now be done instead by other chancery staff and parish priests. All young people must use names, pronouns, bathrooms and attire that correspond to their sex assigned at birth.

Cardinal Tagle in Congo. Catholic bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo are taking steps to promote more widespread Eucharistic adoration in their dioceses and encouraging more frequent use of the inculturated Mass known as the “Zairean Rite.” The country’s 3rd National Eucharistic Congress which took place in the presence of Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, pro-prefect of the Dicastery for Evangelization (who had to cancel his planned participation in the AUSCP Assembly – and his video interview should be available soon at AUSCP.org)

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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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