Wisdom Wednesday | May 15th

AUSCP NewsMay 15Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday as we welcome a collaborator with a commitment to the AUSCP. Michael Centore, editor of Today’s American Catholic, will report each day from our June 24-27 Assembly in Lexington. You are invited to subscribe to Centore’s unique journal of inquiry, reflection and opinion. His reports will help assembly participants process each day’s work and inform the wider at-home audience.

Some spicy items on the buffet table today: parish closure plan “a punch in the stomach;” excommunication “not the equivalent of capital punishment;” “Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire is too thin-skinned for its own good;” did Madonna’s satanic Rio concert cause Brazil floods? and a webcomic about “Bad Catholics, Good Trouble.”

How important is it for immigrants to speak ‘Merican’? We find Pew analysis on what is needed to belong in a country. Is it language? Or religion?

Baltimore restructuring

We begin: The closures, in the nation’s oldest Catholic diocese, are part of a nationwide trend of restructuring in response to falling Mass attendance and priest shortages. Baltimore Catholic parishioners call closure plan a “punch in the stomach.”

Word on Fire

At National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters says Bishop Barron’s Word on Fire is too thin-skinned for its own good. He refers to Barron’s “slander” accusation about Massimo Faggioli.

Papal news and views

  • A National Catholic Register editorial says, “Dear Pope Francis, Come to America!” The editorial continues: “It’s our fervent hope that you will venture further afield in our nation to experience the beauty, faith and warmth of America and its people.”
  • Pope Francis “responds with ‘open heart’ to Vatican document criticism from parents of LGBTQ children,” according to a report from National Catholic Reporter.
  • Columnist Thomas Reese says, “Pope Francis needs to stop treating Vatican officials like princes.” The Jesuit writer says “Pope Francis has nice things to say about almost everyone: LGBTQ Catholics, prisoners, prostitutes, migrants and sinners. The one group he regularly chastises is the clergy, frequently telling them not to act like princes, and instead to remember they are servants of the people of God.”


  • Israeli forces have carried out at least eight strikes on humanitarian convoys and their facilities in Gaza since October, even after aid organisations provided their coordinates to the Israeli authorities, according to a report by Human Rights Watch.
  • “Total outrage”: White House condemns Israeli settlers’ attack on Gaza aid trucks. Protesters block convoy, throw food into road and set fire to vehicles at Tarqumiya checkpoint near Hebron.
  • Union Theological Seminary votes to divest from companies profiting from Gaza war. Union, a private, ecumenical school that serves as Columbia University’s faculty of theology but maintains a separate endowment, is the first U.S. institute of higher education known to divest from the war in Gaza.

Climate crisis

  • European Union ministers mount a last-ditch attempt to save EU laws on restoring nature, according to the Guardian. Representatives of 11 countries led by Ireland urge other states to help get legislation on rescuing habitats.
  • Blaming floods on Madonna: Conservative Christians are accusing the pop star Madonna, who gave a free concert on Rio de Janeiro’s Copacabana Beach May 4, of including satanic rituals in the show, with catastrophic consequences for Brazil.

Wages of War

Global violence is causing a record number of internally displaced people, according to a Guardian report. Conflicts in Gaza, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have led to a total of 68 million IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) across the world.

Selling the bible, or swearing on it?

The swearing-in of witnesses in court with an oath to tell the truth is usually a perfunctory ritual. No one really pays attention. But if Donald Trump testifies in the case accusing him of hiding a hush payment to a porn star to protect his political campaign, all eyes should focus on Trump’s hand on that Bible, says an opinon writer at Religion News Service.

Excommunication: Not like capital punishment

Excommunication, rather than being the equivalent of an execution, is more like being denied entry into a friend’s home because you did something to upset them. You need to apologize before you are going to be welcomed back. Your friend does not want to permanently break from you, but unless you apologize, your relationship has no future. Analysis from Thomas Reese.

Teilhard documentary

Teilhard: Visionary Scientist” will premiere on Maryland Public Television on May 19 and be available for national and international streaming for two years, beginning on May 20. Participants at the AUSCP Assembly in Lexington will have an opportunity to view the documentary and discuss it with the producers, Frank and Mary Frost. Jesuit Father Thomas Reese (also giving a keynote at the assembly), says the film is “a great opportunity to learn about a man who is still influencing the development of theology today.”

Catholic comics

A free Catholic webcomic series is telling true stories of racial justice, White Catholic violence, and the pioneering work of a Black Catholic judge in the Deep South, according to Black Catholic Messenger. “Bad Catholics, Good Trouble” is the brainchild of Maryland-based Dr. Matthew Cressler, formerly a religion professor at the College of Charleston and now chief of staff at the Corporation for Public Interest Technology.

Secret? Or inconvenient?

Catholic social teaching is often bemoaned as the “church’s best-kept secret.” But Mass-goers hear Catholic social teaching every day in every gospel reading. We are told to give without counting the cost, not to worry about tomorrow, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, even on an economic level. God is the landowner in Matthew’s parable (Matt. 20:1–16) who gives a full day’s wage to everyone who works. The just landowner is not trying to maximize his own profits; rather, he realizes his wealth is just one piece of the common good, along with the dignity of the worker and his neighbor’s livelihood. That’s Catholic social teaching. Far from the best-kept secret, it’s the most inconvenient truth. From U.S.Catholic.

Religion and feelings of closeness

Does religion play a role in whether people feel connected to country and community?

A new Pew Research Center analysis finds that religiously unaffiliated Americans are far less likely than those who identify with a religion to feel close to other people in the United States and to people in their local community.

Do you belong?

Remember the caricatures of local people telling “foreigners” you gotta speak ‘Merican’ or go back home? Pew research finds international support on the importance of speaking the language.

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.

If you’d like to support our continued work to bring you wisdom each week, please consider making a donation. Your support provides the breath that makes our voice heard in the U.S. and beyond.

The AUSCP is a 501c3 organization and your donation is tax-deductible.

You may also be interested in…