Wisdom Wednesday | November 1

AUSCP NewsNovember 1Roundup

Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday, beginning a month of Black Catholic History and Native American heritage. A few writers examine the Synod (this year and next). Articles include calls for Mideast peace, the religious foundation of Hamas, a claim that journalists were purposefully attacked, and of civilians targeted in Ukraine. American support for political violence has risen, while care for the climate has fallen. Our website revives a blog spot with an anonymous experience of sobriety and unwanted congratulations.

This Month

It’s November 1, the Feast of All Saints, with All Souls Day to follow. Black Catholic Messenger has compiled events around the country celebrating Black Catholic History. A celebratory weekend at St. Augustine Seminary in Bay St. Louis culminated in a once-in-a-lifetime liturgy attended by beaucoup bishops and Black Catholics alike.

It is also Native American Heritage Month. National Catholic Reporter’s film review concludes that Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” may be the Catholic director’s final word on America, a blood-soaked condemnation of a country whose gospel of greed has caused much death and destruction.


U.N investigators on Tuesday urged Russia to acknowledge responsibility for a missile strike on a Ukrainian village that killed 59 civilians, conduct a transparent investigation into what happened, provide reparations for victims and hold those responsible to account. The strike on a cafe in the village of Hroza on Oct. 5 was one of the deadliest strikes since the Kremlin’s forces launched a full-scale invasion 20 months ago. Whole families perished while attending a wake.

War in Ethiopia

“It is sad that wars and crises are worsening in the world,” said the local diocesan bishop. “Now that attention is mainly focused on the crisis in the Middle East, we do not want Tigray to remain forgotten while the population is dying in the course of a war that has been going on for almost three years in the northern region of Ethiopia.

Israel – Hamas

The ideology and political views of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist organization that’s controlled the Gaza Strip since 2006, are underpinned by a specific religious rhetoric, according to a report in La Croix International.

A watchdog group advocating for press freedom said that the strikes that hit a group of journalists in southern Lebanon last month, killing one, were targeted rather than accidental and that the journalists were clearly identified as press. Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, published preliminary conclusions Sunday.

The head of the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees told a U.N. emergency meeting Monday an immediate ceasefire is a matter of life and death for millions, accusing Israel of “collective punishment” of Palestinians and the forced displacement of civilians.

As the world prayed for peace in the Holy Land Oct. 27, Pope Francis called for the war to halt and prayers to continue during the Angelus Oct. 29, as the death toll in Gaza passed 8,000 and Israeli troops gradually increased their ground activity in the Gaza Strip, without calling it an “invasion.”

Israeli ground forces on Monday advanced in tanks and other armored vehicles on the Gaza’s main city and freed a soldier held captive by Hamas militants. The Israeli prime minister rejected calls for a cease-fire, even as airstrikes landed near hospitals where thousands of Palestinians are sheltering beside the wounded.

A lack of clean water in the Gaza Strip is raising major concerns for human health. “Gaza is running out of water, and Gaza is running out of life,” said Philippe Lazzarini, chief of the U.N. agency for Palestinians.

In an unprecedented move, an estimated 2,000 Haredi men (ultra conservative) with no military experience have volunteered for IDF service. Although past the age when Israelis are typically drafted, the army is accepting these volunteers due to the unprecedented scope of its war with Hamas.

Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem has consecrated the Holy Land to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Patriarch Pierbattista Pizzaballa says that the act, in the midst of the war between Israel and Hamas, reminds us that God never abandons His people

Religion News Service examines the rift among U.S. Jews over the war. The incredible loss of life from the attack and the ongoing Israeli retaliatory airstrikes in Gaza have ignited anew a long-simmering battle between those Jews who stand unequivocally with Israel and those Jews who are critical of Israeli government policy and support Palestinians.

Surveys: Political Violence, Climate Care

More religious Americans support the use of political violence. One-third of white evangelical Protestants support the idea, and 75% of Americans believe the future of democracy is at risk in the next presidential election. As for the climate, US religious groups do not view climate change as a crisis. Among white evangelicals, the view that the Earth is in crisis actually dropped — from 13% in 2014 to 8% today.

NCR Editorial on U.S. bishops’s and Laudate Deum

The very first footnote in Pope Francis’ new apostolic exhortation, Laudate Deum, released Oct. 4, is to a 2019 document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops where they say, “Climate change is one of the principal challenges facing society and the global community.” But the pope’s praise for the U.S. bishops’ handling of climate change was not returned with an equally enthusiastic endorsement of the exhortation by those same bishops. In a word, their response was underwhelming.

Opinion: Siding with peace in the Middle East

Pope Francis said it well: “War does not solve any problem, it only sows death and destruction, increases hatred, multiplies revenge. War erases the future.”

The future for Palestinians and Israelis is being erased each passing day. Before it is too late, the United States and Congress should side with peace, not more war, in the Middle East.

Opinion: Hollywood is speaking up for Israel

Celebrities are speaking out in defense of Israel against Hamas terror. Let’s take it to the next level.

Synod on Synodality: No going back

NCR Exclusive: Cardinals Cupich, McElroy say “impossible to go back” to synods without lay voters — “impossible” to return to an era where lay men and women are not given both a voice and vote in major Vatican meetings.

The place of women, priestly celibacy? The XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops has published its final synthesis without endorsing any actual changes, but the final document outlines a more “inclusive” Church, where synodality is the watchword.

Pope Francis’ synod on synodality never sought to answer the church’s hot-button questions, but it achieved its goal of promoting dialogue, said one of the leading African voices at the monthlong gathering.

Although the final document for Pope Francis’ summit on the future of the Catholic Church did not mention better inclusion of the faith’s LGBTQ members, it also made sure that “no issue is finalized” ahead of the next assembly in 2024.

Bob Mickens in La Croix International looks ahead to the next 11 months. With the first session of the Synod on the future of the Church now completed, what’s likely to happen between now and October 2024 when it’s time for Round II?

Mickens also asks a brazen question: What if the group for the Synod assembly on the future of the Church were to elect the next pope? Sounds far-fetched, doesn’t it? But in a synodal Church – which Pope Francis says is “precisely” what God expects the Church to be in the third millennium – the present model of electing the Bishop of Rome makes no sense whatsoever. In fact, it is arcane and anachronistic, like so many of the Catholic Church’s decision-making structures and procedures.

New Speaker of the House ordained by God

Mike Johnson, pedigreed evangelical, suggests his election as House speaker was ordained by God. Johnson, who peppered his first speech as speaker with religious references, has a history of challenging interpretations of the separation of church and state.

Legal Matters

Chaos erupted over an SBC legal filing in a Louisville abuse lawsuit. Religion News Service reports that a friend-of-the-court filing has led to questions of whether the Southern Baptist Convention has changed its ways in dealing with abuse.

Two Vatican trials are coming to a head this week and posing uncomfortable questions for the Holy See, given they both underscore Pope Francis’ power as an absolute monarch and the legal, financial and reputational problems that can arise when he wields it.

Sister Helen Prejean files a suit after clemency was rejected. The Louisiana Board of Pardons rejected clemency hearings for the first five people sentenced to death who submitted applications earlier this month. The cases were the first hearings to come before the board since Gov. John Bel Edwards expressed his opposition to the death penalty in May. Fifty-six of the 57 people on death row are asking that their sentences be commuted to life in prison without parole. Sister Helen accused the board of holding “secret meetings” in violation of the state’s open meetings law.

Witch trial legacy

In 1648, Margaret Jones, a midwife, became the first person in Massachusetts — the second in New England — to be executed for witchcraft, decades before the infamous Salem witch trials. Nearly four centuries later, the state and region are still working to come to grips with the scope of its witch trial legacy.

The latest effort comes from a group dedicated to clearing the names of all those accused, arrested or indicted for witchcraft in Massachusetts, whether or not the accusations ended in hanging.

The blog section

The AUSCP website has had several pages set aside for blogs — personal stories, opinions, questions, even scholarly works, but we have not yet taken good advantage of the opportunity. (We need a better name because “the blog section” unfortunately sounds a bit like someone clearing his throat). If you have a suggestion, please send it to AUSCP.communications@gmail.com

One question that came in recently, anonymously, probably after a web visitor read the Mutual Support pages about the rights of priests, had to do with how priests or ministers respond to a plea for advice from a congregation member. “A near neighbor is returning soon from prison for a child pornography conviction. He and his family go to the same church I attend, or at least, used to go there. I don’t know what to say to him at church or just on the street if I see him. Any wisdom from you pastors?”

Here is a personal sharing of a different nature, with a request for anonymity.

Today marks 48 years since the beginning of my recovery from alcoholism and, of course, I am deeply grateful. I also understand why some people want to congratulate me. But I am uncomfortable being complimented on this occasion if it implies that I did something spectacular or within my own power. I didn’t. The truth is that I received an unearned gift. The truth is that I stopped doing many hurtful and destructive things.

Friends and family who never were the mess I was did not need to be brought to death’s door to live life on life’s terms. They didn’t cause years of days and nights of pain to those who cared about them. They were good people doing good things because they knew those were the right things to do. They are the heroes, not me. They are the ones who should be praised and looked up to today and every day. I think of them, and I’m grateful. I came late to their normalcy, and they accepted me as if I deserved it. So, I am humbled and grateful these 48 years later.

Comments are welcome, either to pass along to the anonymous writer or for publication in this space. AUSCP.communications@gmail.com

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