Wisdom Wednesday | March 27th

AUSCP NewsMarch 27Roundup

Welcome to a Holy Week edition of Wisdom Wednesday, March 27. Pope Francis skipped his Palm Sunday homily, with a full week ahead. A Vatican link to his full schedule is included this week. Divisions among Jewish leaders grow wider over the Gaza conflict, and the Latin Rite Patriarch of Jerusalem calls for an end to the killing. Here in the United States, Catholic Charities staffers are facing physical and legal threats from the far right. Opinions expressed in our weekly articles are used to stimulate thought and discussion, in pursuit of wisdom. The opinions are not intended to represent the views of the AUSCP.

Holy Week in Rome

Pope Francis skipped his Palm Sunday homily at the start of a busy Holy Week that will test his health, from National Catholic Reporter. Here is his schedule, courtesy of Vatican News.

The un-holy land

Israel faces international isolation, as the UN security council demands an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Israel says the United States “abandoned its policy in the UN after abstaining from the cease-fire vote, according to the Guardian. Speaking to an Italian television station, the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, says that “everyone must do everything possible to put an end to this situation.” The Cardinal’s call, from Vatican News.

Religion News Service reports on the fracture among Jews over Gaza, made public by Senator Chuck Schumer’s call for new elections in Israel. The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said it was distressed by Sen. Schumer’s speech. Then a group of Jewish organizations revolted against that statement.

Pope prays for Russia and Ukraine

Pope Francis offered his prayers for the victims of the March 22 terrorist attack on a concert hall in the Russian capital of Moscow, and invited everyone to pray for “martyred Ukraine” as the country faces heavy Russian bombardment of critical infrastructure. In a separate report, Vatican News says the pope called for peace in his Ramadan message.

Threats to migrant ministry staffers

Threats to Catholic Charities staffers are increasing amid a far-right anti-migrant campaign, targeted by far-right media personalities, conspiracy theorists and even members of Congress. The smear campaign is rooted in opposition to offering aid to immigrants, while sometimes accusing faith groups of breaking the law or working with drug cartels. Lawmakers have also formally called on Catholic Charities, Jewish Family Services and other faith groups to preserve documents

A good background story from last December: when four Republican congressmen accused Catholic Charities USA of violating federal law by providing food, clothing and shelter to migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border, the organization quickly fired back, calling the allegations “incredibly disturbing,” “fallacious and factually inaccurate.” In a Dec. 14 letter Catholic Charities says it is doing the humanitarian work as mandated by the gospel.

Domestic Politics

Exemptions that allow religious organizations to avoid paying Wisconsin’s unemployment tax don’t apply to a Catholic charitable organization because its on-the-ground operations aren’t primarily religious, a divided state Supreme Court ruled Thursday (March 12). The outcome of the case raises the bar for all religions to show that their charity arms deserve such exemptions in the state.

The Supreme Court heard oral arguments Tuesday in a case over abortion pill mifepristone that could not only have far-reaching implications for women’s access to abortions, but also affect the FDA’s power to regulate all drugs. A decision from SCOTUS is expected by late June or early July. Mifepristone remains available until then.

On the impact of young voters: You are invited by the Ignatian Solidarity Network and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University to an in-person and livestreamed gathering April 9. Convenors say that young people, especially young people of faith, may be decisive in the November 2024 U.S. presidential election. Young voters, and all of us, face fundamental issues of life and death, war and peace, who moves ahead and who gets left behind. CLICK for more information and a link.

A synodal development

Opinion writer Michael Sean Winters sees “the chagrin of headline writers everywhere,” as Pope Francis turned the focus of the synod heavily toward process in his letter to Cardinal Mario Grech, general secretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod. He announced the creation of 10 study groups to look at specific theologically complicated issues. The list emphasized reforming the institution, not the hot-button issues that dominated news coverage of last year’s synod.

Krishna Consciousness

In suburban Washington, a new ISKCON temple marks a new beginning. Growing from a small ashram in the 1970s, the D.C. branch of the movement formerly known as Hare Krishnas opened an 11,000-square-foot house of worship on Saturday (March 23). The 11,000-square-foot marvel opened just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Washington area’s community of the International Society for Krishna Consciousness.

Standing up for MLK

The Rev. Charlie Dates, the pastor of two historically Black churches in Chicago, is defending the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. after California pastor John MacArthur declared in February that the civil rights leader “was not a Christian at all.”

Who hates what?

To take on the topic of hatred among believers and voters, writer Mark Silk offers an imaginary conversation. Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college’s Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service.

Bishop dismissed, laicized

Roger Vangheluwe, the 87-year-old former bishop of Bruges, has been dismissed from the clerical state after being found guilty of abuse of a minor. Pope Francis approved the sentence following a re-examination of the case in light of “serious new elements” reported to the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Stunning news for LDS

Many people were stunned by the news earlier this month that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had purchased several key historic buildings in Ohio and Nauvoo, Illinois, from Community of Christ, the second-largest Latter-day Saints denomination, which was, until 2001, called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Chief among these properties was the Kirtland Temple, built by early members of the church in the mid-1830s while they settled in northern Ohio before continuing their westward migration.

Of faith and forest

The faith-based Mother Earth Network aims to restore Maragoli Forest, and hope, in Kenya. Kenyan Catholics and a priest-led environmental group have taken on a forest restoration project in Vihiga County. Fr. Hermann Borg, founder of Mother Earth Network, is known as “Baba Miti,” or “The Father of Trees,” by locals.

Holy Week ideas, prayers, actions

Traditionally, many Pax Christi USA local groups plan and stage a “Way of the Cross” event on Good Friday, connecting the sufferings of Christ during his passion with the suffering of our brothers and sisters at the hands of violence, greed, poverty, sickness and war. Below is a link to resources for groups interested in undertaking a Way of the Cross in their community on Good Friday.

Good Friday Way of the Cross


Columnist Tony writes that in the kingdom “here but not yet” — we have the privilege and responsibility to help advance the love, justice and peace of the kingdom of God ever closer to that day when God will be all in all.

From Crucifixion to Resurrection


In Case You Missed It: A recording of a conversation with Robert Ellsberg is available to view. It is titled, “Saintly Guide through Lent and Easter.”


Two books by Pope Francis

Pope Francis is out to prove he’s just a regular guy, says a reviewer of his latest book, a memoir, ‘Life: My Story Through History,’ and a self-help book, ‘A Good Life,’ the pope reinforces his image as approachable.

Here are links, in case you want to purchase the pope’s latest: ‘Life: My Story Through History,’ and ‘A Good Life.’

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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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