Wisdom Wednesday | November 16th

AUSCP NewsNovember 16Roundup

U.S. elections. U.S. bishops’ elections. And now, a world of eight billion people. Let that sink in. Some information from Wisdom Wednesday will be useful for your reflection today.

First, the month of March may be Shakespearean famous, but March of course is not the only month to have Nones and Ides. The Nones of November were the 5th (before the mid-term elections), and the Ides, last Sunday, the 13th (after the elections).

And before we hear the results of the U.S. bishops meeting, perhaps we should “Beware the Ides of November!”

November 13th was the day many of our U.S bishops traveled to Baltimore to begin their annual fall meeting on Monday, the 14th. While there is certainly no hint of a violent change in the bishops’ leadership, there are signs of dissent and intrigue. And we pray, hope for unity after a stormy November.

The bishops’ agenda includes the election of new leaders — and as the Associated Press reports, the vote may signal whether our bishops want to be more closely aligned with Pope Francis or not.

And then there is the matter of trust: US Catholic priests have little trust in their bishops — that’s one of the findings of the “National Study of Catholic Priests”, a 25-page document released last month in the run-up to this week’s general assembly of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

According to the AP, several of the 10 candidates to be the next president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are part of its powerful conservative wing, and have not fully embraced some of the pope’s priorities, such as focusing more on the marginalized than on culture-war battles.

A background report: The U.S. bishops have been holding their November plenary session in Baltimore for many years, but this year there will be some furniture moves and some schedule changes. Out are the classroom-style seating, news conferences and the bishops being talked to for hours on end. In will be a greater emphasis on prayer, “fraternal dialogue” and less formal bishop-media encounters. That’s the word from James Rogers, chief communications officer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, who explained to Catholic News Service some of the changes and why they were taking place.

More about the USCCB structure, from the USCCB

Two opinions

Will the bishops examine their failed strategy on abortion? A writer in National Catholic Reporter offers an opinion.

Tom Reese, a Jesuit who has long observed the facts, failings and blessings of the Church, says the bishops this year need to acknowledge the collateral damage from Dobbs win – that the bishops supported.

Teaching: Too simple?

Some criticism of the bishops of the world (not just the United States) is they are too conservative. For example, a German bishop calls current Catholic teaching on sexuality ‘too simple.’

Gender theory

A Dutch cardinal has asked the pope for a gender encyclical on gender theory. The report, from Crux.

The Serra story

Our city names come from Catholic missions – San Diego, San Francisco, and so on. Recent studies of these establishments have not treated Catholic expansion kindly. And now, California is breaking ground on a Native American monument to replace a Junipero Serra statue.

Climate Crisis

As world leaders gathered at the U.N. climate conference to figure out how to deal with climate change, faith organizations found their voices through protests – in song and dance, too. The Christian youths from across the world were out to dramatize what the hurt the environment was going through, and with it, the entire human race.

On a more local scale, a provision in the Inflation Reduction Act, signed into law this summer by President Joe Biden, makes it easier for churches to go green. The Act  not only increases the size of the tax credit for conversions to renewable energy but also makes nonprofit entities, like parishes, eligible to receive the tax benefits themselves.

By the way, our earth now has 8 billion people—and counting. Where do we go from here?

We’ve added a billion people in just 12 years. The implications for the planet—and our own welfare—hinge on how we tackle climate change, according to National Geographic. Read more here.

Death penalty and racism

Advocates working to end the death penalty say they have long seen the links between racism and capital punishment and they plan to continue to speak out about it until they see a change.

The synod

An opinion: The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process

Election observations

In the midterm elections, evangelical Christians across the nation reconfirmed their allegiance to conservative candidates and causes, while Catholic voters once again showed how closely divided they are — even on abortion.

Muslim Americans made historic gains in 2022 midterm elections.

Methodist turmoil

58 Louisiana churches are leaving the United Methodist Church denomination amid a national schism.

War in Ukraine

In the Holy See’s latest bid to help bring an end to the ongoing Ukraine-Russia, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, will preside over a special Mass for peace in Ukraine later this month.

History: Haven’t we heard this before?

On April 18, 1968, the National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus issued its founding manifesto, the opening line of which famously called the U.S. Catholic Church a “White racist institution.” The statement came amid Black uprisings around the country following the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr two weeks prior, and reflected the frustrations of the Black community as well as its growing revolutionary spirit. Are you surprised?

History perspective

Did faith fall off a cliff during COVID? Religious life in America was disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. But did it lead to a loss of faith as well as a decline in churchgoing? New study says no.

Next week: Thanksgiving

A personal note: My son, an executive chef, used to provide thousands of turkey-and-dressing Thanksgiving meals for workers at a large automotive manufacturing facility. I thought his personal reaction was quirky but understandable: Lobster on the table, not turkey. But a search through early American history finds lobster (plus seals and swans) probably on the first menu.

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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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