Wisdom Wednesday | March 13th

AUSCP NewsMarch 13Roundup

Hang on to your hats! Political winds are blowing in mid-March. A new combative faith group plans to host a “Catholic prayer” for Trump at Mar-a-Lago. President Biden’s State of the Union address invokes FDR’s prayer for the preservation of democracy.

As always, our prayer on Wisdom Wednesday is clarity. The Mar-a-Lago report is a news item. The Biden-FDR article is a column representing the views of the writer. The AUSCP is non-partisan.

Among items this week, Pope Francis calls for a white flag in Ukraine, but he did not mean to call for surrender. The IVF decision in Alabama brings attention to a life issue, and also to a kind of Christian nationalism – while a personal account of a couple with left-over frozen embryos focuses on their moral and ethical struggles: “The babies I will never know, whose eyes I will not see, whose bodies I will not rock, whose smiles I will not recognize.”

The winds of Catholic change bring attention this week to steady decline in the number of the ordained, and an urgent examination of the number of American bishops at or near retirement age.

We offer a series, thanks to Religion News Service, about Ramadan – including why the holy month is called Ramadan.

Nominee for the most unexpected comment of the week: “The story of Barbie and Ken bears a striking resemblance to the story of Adam and Eve in the Book of Genesis, a resemblance that is not coincidence.”

The political whirl

At National Catholic Reporter, Brian Fraga reports on “Catholics for Catholics,” a small nonprofit that has made a quick impact in Catholic political involvement. It’s now set to take its combative vision of the faith to former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.


In an opinion piece at National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters offers his views on President Biden’s State of the Union address: “our nation faces a unique threat to our democratic way of life” in the person of Donald Trump.


Pew Research examines American views: Nearly three-quarters of Americans (73%) rate strengthening the economy as a top priority. That is considerably larger than the shares citing any other policy goal.


In a published commentary, Andrea M. Picciotti-Bayer at National Catholic Register concludes that “A new Biden rule regarding social services grants places faith-based organizations on the defensive and ignores crucial protections under federal law and the Constitution.”


John Kelly, Trump’s second chief of staff, reportedly tried to stop Trump praising Hitler – by telling him Mussolini was ‘great guy’ in comparison. The article comes from a book review in The Guardian.


The IVF decision

At Religion News Service, writers conclude that the “Scripture-quoting Alabama judge in an IVF case” issued a decision that was not simply “a heartfelt expression of faith, but part of a strategy the chief justice has used to create legal precedent for conservative causes.” At National Catholic Register, columnist Russell Shaw concludes the argument is self-evident: “A human embryo is either a human person or well along in the process of becoming one.” For infertile couples, the fate of frozen embryos is not political; it is deeply personal.




Ukraine: What pope said, what cardinals are doing

Pope Francis reportedly said that Ukraine should have courage of the “white flag” and negotiate end of war with Russia. Catholic News Agency says the pope was not calling for surrender. OSV News reports that seven U.S. cardinals have become patrons of a new effort to heal the suffering of Ukraine’s people. All of National Catholic Reporter Ukraine stories are available at one site.






The papal election process

Jesuit Father Thomas Reese (a keynote speaker in the upcoming AUSCP Assembly) concludes that Pope Francis needs to reform papal election process — carefully.


U.S. bishop selections

Analysis: The high number of potential archdiocesan openings in the United States represents a unique opportunity for Pope Francis to make a significant impact on the highest levels of the U.S. episcopacy. “Most commentators agree that while the Pope’s most high-profile episcopal picks may fit a certain progressive profile, the majority of U.S. bishops he has selected during his 10-year pontificate are notable for being good pastors — not holding certain theological opinions.

Dwindling Paulists

Kimberley Heatherington at National Catholic Register quotes the leader of the Paulists: “The current reality of fewer Paulists demands that we enter into a process by which we decide which ministries we can continue to staff and which we will have to entrust to others to carry on the good work we’ve begun.”


Vandalism at shrine

A historic place of prayer in Portland, Oregon, sustained significant damage to one of its buildings, while a priest narrowly escaped harm, in a Feb. 28 vandalism attack. Security cameras, religious objects and windows were smashed in the monastery of The Grotto, the National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, a 54-acre shrine operated by the Order of Friar Servants of Mary.


‘Madonna di Trevignano’ events ‘not supernatural’

After an investigation by a group of experts, “fervent” prayer and “attentive discernment,” an Italian bishop has decreed that the alleged apparitions of the Virgin Mary in Trevignano Romano, are not supernatural. A couple who brought a statue of Mary from Medjugorje said it weeps blood, multiplies food and gives monthly messages.


Synod on Synodality 

Analysis: Remarks by Cardinal Mario Grech and Bishop Kevin Rhoades at a Notre Dame conference underscored that while some are focused on the ‘how’ of synodality, others are still concerned about its ‘what.’


Tricia Bruce, a sociologist who studies American Catholocism, hopes to bring her expertise, and data from her work, to the yearslong synodal process, as one of six new consultors named to the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod. Heidi Schlumpf, at National Catholic Reporter, says Bruce believes that despite sometimes being the bearers of bad news, sociologists — by giving voice to collective experiences — are essential to the church’s work.


Pope: Women Are ‘Builders of Humanity’ 

In a recent conference address, Pope Francis acknowledged the sufferings and injustices women face in many places in the world, calling on prayer and action, specifically when it comes to education.


World report on religious restrictions

From the Pew Research Center, the 14th annual report includes a look at countries that restrict religious practices and grant benefits to religious groups at the same time


When the FBI feared the Catholic Left

From Commonweal: On November 27, 1970, at a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, J. Edgar Hoover requested an extra $14.5 million in funding. One of the most pressing threats, Hoover warned, came from a “militant group” of “Catholic priests and nuns, teachers, students, and former students” opposed to the war in Vietnam. “The principal leaders of this group,” he continued, “are Philip and Daniel Berrigan . . . .”


Barbie and Ken, Adam and Eve

Opinion: Greta Gerwig didn’t get an Oscar bid for ‘Barbie’ but she does get Genesis. There’s a candy-coated biblical parallel to be found in the best-picture nominee.


Ramadan stories

As the month of Ramadan begins, Religion News Service has collected a series of stories about this month of spiritual rejuvenation, fasting and prayer. It is also a time for connection with family and friends and sharing personal stories. Each link will take you to the selected story, and also to a web page with current stories listed.

Jerusalem Palestinians prepare for Ramadan amid holy month’s uneasy politics

Ramadan fasting isn’t about hunger. It’s about living mindfully.

Why Ramadan is called Ramadan: 6 questions answered

When making exceptions for Ramadan is no longer the exception

US soccer leagues add game breaks for players fasting during Ramadan

Muslim holidays find welcome from mainstream retailers with new Ramadan goods

Liturgical commentaries

• Sunday Resources by Mary McGlone from the National Catholic Reporter


For personal prayer during Lent: Pray at Home Resources.

·       Consider Daily Reflections from Jesuit Resources—click here.

·       The Irish Jesuits Sacred Space.  Also, see Jesuit Sources.

Support Wisdom Wednesday

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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