Three reports on the papal trip to Iraq lead off this week — followed by an invitation to learn what it was like back in 2013 to look ahead to the Francis papacy. Other items include the impact of the pandemic on some poor parish finances, how to talk with QAnon believers (or Can a warm heart open a cold and closed mind?), why some women conclude that the Church has no future without women, and why one woman who prayed for the president was told to “go to Hell.”
Pope Francis in Iraq and other Vatican news
Pope Francis during his flight to Rome, having completed his March 5-8 historic visit to Iraq, spoke to journalists, covering a wide range of topics, from his personal insights of that visit to dialogue with Islamic religious leaders, to if he will ever return to his native Argentina. La Croix International provides some excerpts of a non-official working transcript and translation made available by Vatican News.
Was he brave or reckless? Or ‘one step away from heresy?’ Pope Francis dismisses the charges for meeting with Muslim religious leaders. Quoted by Religious News Service, he said that his efforts to mend Christian-Muslim relations, far from being “capricious,” are in keeping with the doctrine laid out by the Second Vatican Council.
It’s easy to despair that the barriers dividing Christians and Muslims will never be overcome. But the pope’s visit to Iraq offers the opportunity to imagine otherwise, according to a new article in Commonweal, “In the Steps of Father Abraham.”
Let’s next dive a little deeper into Vatican II. Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in the last several weeks, according to Massimo Faggioli in Commonweal. He cited the council when announcing that some should be allowed as lectors and acolytes, and he told the Italian bishops:
Either you are with the Church and therefore you follow the Council, and if you do not follow the Council or you interpret it in your own way, as you wish, you are not with the Church.”
(Was he thinking about the American bishops when he said that?)
Our featured keynote this week, also about Vatican II, almost feels like time travel! Return to 2013 by way of a video recording. Bob Mickens, a seasoned Vatican observer, journalist, and editor gave a keynote address to our Seattle Assembly during the opening months of the newly-elected Pope Francis. What were the expectations then? Bob shares the wisdom and the humor of those times in this archival recording.
And as a reminder, you can watch keynote presentations from all of our past assemblies on our Past Assembly Videos page.
Politics and continued national divisions
Louie Arceneaux, an AUSCP member and part of our leadership team, recommends a blog he follows, called Another Voice. The author, Jack Dick, offers “Reflections about Contemporary Christian Belief and Practice” and his latest is “A Very Real Challenge.”
His March 5 blog is about QAnon’s plan to build an apocalyptic “QAnon-Christian Kingdom of God on Earth.” Says the author:
We really need to help people distinguish fact from fiction. This will be our increasingly important challenge. . . . Warm hearts help to open cold and closed minds.”
Evangelical author and speaker Trilia Newbell believes in praying for America’s leaders. She prayed for President Trump after his election in 2016. In 2020 she posted a prayer for President-elect Joe Biden, “the exact same one I did for Trump, and someone told me to ‘go to Hell,’” she wrote on Twitter. Religion News tells the story.
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH – Women of faith celebrated International Women’s day on Monday talking about women’s future in the Catholic Church and exploring if women have been written out of scripture. Writing in The Tablet from the United Kingdom, Sarah MacDonald concludes that the “Catholic Church ‘has no future’ without women.”
The Jesuits have announced formation of a new commission on the role of women in the order. In America magazine, a new commission member says “It’s not just lip service.”
IMMIGRATION – We recently featured a CNN interview with Bruce Nieli, an AUSCP member active in ministry on the southern border and as a member of our Immigration Work Group. In case you missed it, here’s another opportunity for viewing.
CLIMATE CRISIS – Have you checked out the immense quantities of wisdom among the offerings in our Climate Crisis section. If you have any interest in the climate and any feelings of concern for the crisis, you’ll find both challenging and comforting items here. One of the study guides available is Scientific and Spiritual Dimensions of Climate Change – A Study Course for any faith group.
COVID-related church news
Processions and Baptisms will not be part of Holy Week rituals in England and Wales this year, because of Covid 19. No washing of feet on Holy Thursday. No public adoration of the Cross on Good Friday. The Tablet reports on the decision announced March 9 by the bishops’ conference.
You suspected it was happening, that the post-pandemic future would be precarious for poor parishes and dioceses in the United States. Christopher White, in National Catholic Reporter, brings stark details into the mix.
Some not-so-serious final thoughts
Finally, two not-so-serious pieces in new territory for Wisdom Wednesday: A Pew Research survey and a faith-oriented trip to a world of food.
Are you a core conservative? A solid liberal? Or somewhere in between? The Pew Research Center offers a 17-question quiz to help you find your political typology. The questions are political but many of the issues probed are religious issues, too. My answers put me into a small group of just 16 percent of the nation. Where do you fit in?
Food writer Anna Rahman says Jews and Muslims love the Iranian rice dish Tahdig in equal measure. She wonders if the food could be “a kickoff to long-lasting peace.” Her article can be found the the Brooklyn magazine, Tablet: A new read on Jewish life.
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!