Wisdom Wednesday | March 6th

AUSCP NewsMarch 6Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday, with straight reporting and strong opinions to stimulate your own reasoned views on religious and cultural topics. Among the items: How the Bible is used in Alabama to declare embryos are children; Why Michael Voris resigned and Church Militant is shutting down; When does censorship make a democracy less of a democracy? And Why a St. Louis Girl Scout group disbanded — and how the community responded. Please note, as usual, opinions expressed are from the writers and speakers. But first we feature Assembly keynoter Father Michael Driscoll, a speaker we happily honor!

Keynote Feature

Father Michael Driscoll will give his keynote address to the AUSCP Assembly on Monday evening, June 24, in Lexington: How the Eucharist Schools Us for Action. (Click here for the full Assembly schedule.)

Driscoll is Professor Emeritus of Theology and the founding director of Notre Dame’s Graduate Program in Sacred Music. In a 2021 address, part of the Proclamation & Practice Speaker Series, Driscoll “looks at the role of music and other sacred arts in forming our Christian beliefs. How do the liturgical arts impart that deep-felt knowledge of head and heart and faith, the knowledge that nourishes whole human persons and inspires a knowing from inside out?”

Driscoll’s biography (published by the University of Notre Dame) describes him as the founding director of the Masters program in Sacred Music (MSM) and the Interdisciplinary Minor in Liturgical Music Ministry at Notre Dame since 2005. Fr. Driscoll’s writings on the liturgy have brought him into the area of social justice as the lived experience of faith flowing from the Eucharist, as seen in Sacraments and Justice (Liturgical Press, 2014). He is very interested in making the connection between liturgy and life, between the Eucharist and ethics.

From the Vatican

Pope Francis recently addressing officials of the Tribunal of Vatican City State, inaugurating its 95th judicial year. He said that the administration of justice requires the virtue of courage and humility in pursuing the truth and even in facing criticism.

On March 12, Georgetown will present an In-Person Dialogue: “The Francis Factor at 11 Years: The Synod, Lay Leadership, and the Social Mission of the Church.” Click for details.

The Vatican reports that religious freedom is violated in one third of the world. Addressing the 55th Session of the Human Rights Council, the Holy See’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations and Other International Organizations in Geneva urged renewed international efforts to address the ongoing violations of human rights, including freedom of religion.

Palestine and Gaza

Instead of selling cookies to raise money, the eight girls of Troop 149 in St. Louis decided to make and sell bracelets, and donate the proceeds to the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund. They noted that a troop in Westlake, Ohio was honored for collecting medical supplies and first-aid kits for Ukraine. But when the parent chapter rejected the St. Louis project, the eight-girl group disbanded, and the community responded.

Religion News Service examines the question: What can parents do when their childrenare taught something, or not taught something? Schools are increasingly having to decide “whose grief gets validated,” said a local Muslim resident of a troubled district after a teacher was removed for teaching about Gaza.

National Concerns in Faith and Politics

At what point does censorship make a democracy less of a democracy? The Rev. Dennis Holtschneider, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, is haunted by that question following legislation approved in Florida affecting an Interfaith Center at the University of North Florida. The center was formed to build relationships across differences, not to polarize them. Religion News Service reported Holtschneider’s opinion.

A judge’s decision on embryos in Alabama claimed to be Christian. Pew Research, reported by Religion News Service, finds that theological opinions on In Vitro Fertilization are far from universal across denominations. While personal views on IVF are harder to assess, there seems to be broad familiarity with the practice among religious groups. When Pew Research asked adult respondents last year whether they have used fertility treatments to have children or know anyone who has, white Catholics were the mostly likely to say yes.

The Texas attorney general moves to shut down Catholic migrant shelters. The lawsuit from Ken Paxton’s office “seeks to revoke Annunciation House’s authorization to do business in Texas and asks the court to appoint a receiver to liquidate their assets.” That is an abuse of power, Catholic leaders say, blasting the attack on migrant ministry.

A new report released Wednesday (Feb. 28) found that roughly 3 in 10 Americans express some sympathy for Christian nationalism, with its greatest popularity concentrated in the Southeast and Upper Midwest. The survey found support for Christian nationalism concentrated in two religious groups: white evangelical Protestants and Hispanic Protestants.

Catholic tensions

The announcement that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Archbishop Andrzej Dziega of Szczecin-Kamien with no explanation in a Feb. 24 statement from the apostolic nunciature caused a bittersweet reaction in Poland. Dziega was known for ignoring the victims of sexual abuse for years in his archdiocese, but he said the reason for retirement was health oriented.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory says political polarization has “infected’” the Catholic Church.

‘Whenever I’ve experienced the church in true dialogue and open conversation, that’s synodality. Whenever the church gathers and everyone feels respected and can open their hearts, that’s synodality,” said Gregory.

After Rome intervened in the German Catholic reform project, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna warned of schism. He said German bishops want to keep to their reform course despite the latest letter from Rome, which halted the vote on the statutes of a Synodal Committee.

Around the World

Muslims are left mourning as police raze another mosque in northern India.After local authorities razed a mosque and religious school, police cracked down on Muslim protesters, killing six and arresting nearly 80 before returning in the following days to wreak havoc in the city’s Muslim ghetto.

Greece just legalized same-sex marriage, despite its Orthodox views. Will other Orthodox countries join them any time soon? Probably not. Roughly 200 million Eastern Orthodox live primarily in Eastern Europe and neighboring Asian lands, with about half that total in Russia, while smaller numbers live across the world.

Nuns in a time of nones, and diversity among brothers

Religion News Service describes “The winding path to today’s religious vocations.” From 2020 to 2022, more than 900 women and men entered religious life. They all took their own, sometimes circuitous routes to get there. For Catholic men’s religious orders, diversity brings new opportunities — and occasional friction. “Their lives are so much more complicated and distracting than mine was,” said Brother Larry Schatz, vocation director for the Christian Brothers Midwest province.

Church Militant to shut down

Church Militant, the far-right Catholic media network, will cease operating at the end of April 2024, according to a press release issued Friday (March 1) by the law firm Todd & Weld LLP. The law firm announced that Church Militant, operated by St. Michael’s Media, had lost a defamation lawsuit to the Rev. Georges de Laire, a canon lawyer and priest in the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire. Church Militant agreed to pay $500,000 and apologize to de Laire, said the law firm, which represented de Laire.

Back in November 2023, Michael Voris stepped down from Church Militant over an unspecified violation of the company’s morality clause. The development was reported by several outlets, including the National Catholic Reporter.

Last May (2023) Voris had blamed the Biden Administration for its financial problems and employee layoffs. National Catholic Reporter cited court records that Church Militant “had been involved with at least three lawsuits over the last two years.”

Most outlets identified Church Militant as ‘right wing Catholic’ – but as Yahoo News reports, the Catholic Church did not recognize Church Militant as a Church apostolate. Its web “newscasts” drew a loyal following with fiercely right-wing politics and radically conservative Catholicism in which many of America’s bishops were viewed with suspicion and disgust. (The AUSCP and Albuquerque Archbishop John Wester were among those attacked by Church Militant.)

In April 2016, Voris revealed his early life, according to logotv, with a headline, “Anti-Gay Catholic reveals his gay past.” He said, “I will now reveal that for most of my years in my 30s, confused about my own sexuality, I lived a life of live-in relationships with homosexual men.” (Since launching in 2005, Logotv claims to be the first commercial cable network made for the LGBTQ+ community.)

From Our Members: Live streams on faith issues

AUSCP Friend Bob Stewart notes that the Association Pittsburgh Priests (APP) will be making available live-streamed events featuring presentations regarding important faith issues. To register for these free events, click on links below. “You will not be disappointed in these stellar programs made available via the APP.”

Bob also offers links to Scripture commentaries for Lent and beyond

‘How Great Thou Art’ gets new ending

The famous hymn is revised on the 75th anniversary of its famous English translation. “When we approached all the people to be part of it, we had a lot of green lights very quickly,” singer Matt Redman said of participating recording artists.

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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