Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. This week, in addition to our usual collection of news and views from here and there, we offer newsworthy items from the “other” world – the southern hemisphere and the eastern world. There’s no surprise in any of these reports – and maybe that is a surprise: “Their” news looks a lot like “ours.”
In the news: Apocalyptic language in politics, a good report on DEI impact, and an update from the battlefield known as Humanae vitae.
Did you know? Church attendance is down, but the people who stay are happy.
A pair of hopeful religious leader say “You are more resilient than you think.”
The legal “duty to retreat” is losing ground to “stand your ground, by a score of 27-13.
But first, Reparations from Georgetown
In 1838, 272 enslaved African Americans were infamously sold to shore up the finances at Georgetown, the nation’s first Catholic university. Now payouts are beginning, intended to support programs benefiting descendants of those enslaved by U.S. Jesuits in the years before Emancipation. Nate Tinner-Williams has the story in Black Catholic Messenger.
Stand your ground vs. duty to retreat
The Christian Science Monitor (subscription may be required) says 27 states – mostly Republican-led — have passed laws that protect individuals’ rights to use deadly force whenever they have a reasonable fear they are being threatened with danger. Thirteen mostly Democratic-led states still impose the duty to retreat, which means individuals cannot resort to deadly force to defend themselves outside their homes if they are able to safely avoid the risk of harm and flee the situation. The subway killing in New York prompts the study.
Battle over sexual morality at the Vatican
In a rare public clash, two senior Vatican officials present divergent views on “Humanae vitae”, a key Church text on sexuality and procreation, from LaCroix International.
The problem of glorifying the military
Bob Mickens writes: A Catholic Church that continues to participate in society’s reverence of military duty as the paragon of service to one’s country will have a hard time being a credible voice for peace.
The ‘other’ worlds
What’s happening in other parts of the world? Here are samples taken from the front pages of a few English language news publications, starting with three items from Sao Paulo.
- In the last ten years, the number of same-sex marriages in Brazil has increased four times, according to Folha de S.Paulo.
- In the first quarter of 2023, Brazil recorded at least 80 violent deaths of LGBTQ persons.
- An interview with an indigenous artist found a kind of violence even among people who believed they were doing good. Artist Gustavo Caboco said, “many people incorporate Indigenous people into their families, in a form of affective colonisation. It is as if affection — this food I’m giving you, this roof over your head, this school I’m offering — it is as if these were rewards for your service and availability.
“Violence is present in drinking, addiction, prostitution, exclusion or lack of assistance or health care, but it is also present in love.”
Winter there, summer here
Do you have occasional power problems from your electric utility? How about a 10-hour outage every day for starters – as Reuters reports from South Africa. As winter approaches in the southern hemisphere, it’s the worst power crisis on record.
It’s a heat stroke relief camp that is in the news reported in Urdu Point, Hyderabad.
From the Philippines
Three items are from top stories this week in the Manila Times.
- The country has to take steps to address climate change or suffer the consequences, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. warned on Monday.
- The Bureau of Immigration has taken another giant step to strengthen its capability in combating human trafficking and other forms of illegal migration activities
- Many Filipino people work in other countries, but in 2025, they will be able to vote in homeland elections, via the internet.
A Climate need: Power, not magic
Sarah Edmonds, a former Reuters journalist, offers an article for News Decoder (a global news service for young people) on climate change. Movies provide nail-biting conclusions to global crises, but Edmonds concludes “we don’t need magic or a miraculous scientific breakthrough to save ourselves. We have all the power we need right now” – “telling those in power we want them to act now.”
George Weigel, on Vatican II
A new volume about Vatican II (a rupture or a reform?) has some praiseworthy portions, but a review by Gregory Hillis in America finds that Weigel writes almost as if the current pontiff did not exist. Despite whole chapters dedicated to the teachings of John Paul II and Benedict XVI, there are only two brief references to Francis.
COVID and your faith
COVID isn’t over. How has it affected our faith? Two pioneering clergy share their anguish and their hope. The story, from Jeffrey Salkin, in his column Martini Judaism. Read “You’re More Resilient Than You Think.”
Poll: Religious attendance is shrinking but those who remain are happy
In the PRRI study, 57% of Americans say they seldom or never attend religious services. Among those who do, 89% said they were proud to be associated with their congregation.
A thousand theological words
Michael Sean Winters, writing in National Catholic Reporter, praises the video work of Sebastian Gomes (incidentally, who will be at the AUSCP Assembly in San Diego). Winters, who loves text, has found the story telling world of video.
Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Workplace
A majority of U.S. workers say focusing on DEI at work is a good thing, but relatively small shares place great importance on diversity in their own workplace
Apocalyptic religious rhetoric
From Yahoo News: Why top Trump allies like Roger Stone are using apocalyptic religious rhetoric. “My sense is [Stone] has recognized how important this sector of Christianity is for the ongoing radicalized Trump base,” says a Christian scholar.
Seeking to prevent farm suicides
Increasingly aware of agricultural workers’ struggles with mental health, states such as Minnesota and South Dakota are offering suicide prevention training to clergy – who are a crucial, trusted presence in rural America.
Last but not least
In El Salvador, Carmelite sisters look after the ‘shrine’ of St. Óscar Romero
And Paul Simon gets religion. It only took him 82 years, but Paul Simon has created a masterful piece of Jewish liturgy, says Jeffrey Salkin in this column. A quote from the new album: “The sacred harp that David played to make his songs of praise — we long to hear those strings that set his heart ablaze.”
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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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