Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday, our weekly search for the events and opinions that shape our church and world. Pope Francis is said to be “clearly improving” from the flu, and plans to make history by attending the global climate change conference. The pope is also worrying about same-sex blessings in Germany and the decline in seminarian number in Spain. There is a small flicker of light at the end of the climate crisis tunnel – even as a water war threatens in Arizona. We salute Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, an AUSCP keynoter in 2021, who won the Wesley-Logan Prize for her book, “Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle.” The Israel-Hamas war was on pause as we prepared for today; we have news about relief efforts from Caritas International, but we begin with Pope Francis.
Pope Francis has no fever, and is “clearly improving” from flu, according to Vatican News. The Director of the Holy See Press Office says a CT scan the Pope underwent over the weekend “ruled out pneumonia” and that he is in a “good” condition and improving.
In attending COP28 in Dubai, Pope Francis will make history as the first Pope to participate in a United Nations climate change conference, marking the culmination of decades of work by the Holy See to defend our common home.
COP28 and Climate News
As Dubai prepares for COP28, some world leaders signal they won’t attend climate talks. Meanwhile, several former world leaders seek a $25 billion levy on oil states’ revenues to pay for climate damage. Groundwater is a top concern in Dubai and other UAE countries, and here in the United States. Tensions are bubbling up in Arizona, where foreign-owned farms are pumping water from wells unregulated by the state.
A new Google geothermal electricity project could be a milestone for clean energy. Google announced Tuesday that an advanced geothermal project has begun pumping carbon-free electricity onto the Nevada electric grid to feed Google data centers there.
A series of reports ahead of the global climate conference make clear that rising sea levels are a more pressing threat than once predicted. The opinion article comes from MSNBC.
Here is a link to live war coverage from the Guardian. Stories are continuously updated.
“All we want for Christmas is a constant and comprehensive cease-fire and an end to this war,” said the Rev. Munther Isaac, pastor of Bethlehem’s Evangelical Lutheran Christmas. He is one of several Church.Bethlehem pastors who arrived in Washington, D.C, to urge lawmakers to embrace a cease-fire and peace plan.
Caritas continues to navigate huge challenges in relief efforts amid the Holy Land crisis. Vatican News reports the Secretary General of Caritas Internationalis shared insights into the organization’s humanitarian efforts and the despair of the people.
Stung by anti-Israel protests and hate, many Jews are reasserting their identity, according to a report from Religion News Service. While some American Jews leave Star of David necklaces at home or remove mezuzahs from their doorposts, others have deepened their spiritual practices or taken to the streets and social media to shout their pride in their Jewish identity and the state of Israel.
USCCB Shifts, silence, and synodality
Nate Tinner-Williams reports it was “a so-called sleepy U.S. bishops gathering in Baltimore,” ultimately a perfunctory episcopal affair, with a few notable exceptions that might raise eyebrows. (This Opinion article was distributed last week, so the days of the week mentioned are not this week, but the previous week.)
The Church in Germany, Spain and Australia
Pope Francis has voiced “concern” over the German Synodal Path. In a letter to German Catholics, Pope Francis said its proposals risk moving away from the Catholic Church. Claire Giangravé reports for Religion News Service.
Pope Francis has summoned all Spanish bishops to Rome, an exceptional measure. Loup Besmond de Senneville reports for La Croix International, saying the action is linked, in particular, to the situation of the seminaries where only a few are preparing for priesthood.
In Australia, a Franciscan bishop is implementing the Jesuit pope’s synodal vision, according to an article by Christopher White of NCR.
Pilgrimages to Indianapolis
Applications are now open for pilgrims on the 2024 National Eucharistic Pilgrimage, according to the Black Catholic Messenger. There plans for four routes leading to Indianapolis next summer for the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. The full pilgrimage schedules have not been announced, but multiple routes will include stops related to Black Catholics.
An effective proclamation of the Gospel must speak with hope to the real-life problems of the poor, to the need to protect the Earth and to the ability of people of goodwill to change the social and financial systems that harm the poor and the environment, Pope Francis said.
Cindy Wooden’s article for Catholic News Service was published by NCR in the series, Earthbeat.
German missionary freed in Mali
Fr. Hans-Joachim Lohre, a German-born missionary priest, has been released after a year as a hostage in Mali at the hands of al-Qaeda-linked extremists.
Black maternal health and the Catholic Church
Efran Menny examines the ongoing crisis of medical racism and the Catholic call to support Black mothers in need, in an article in Black Catholic Messenger.
Church Militant founder resigns
Michael Voris, a critic of the AUSCP was asked to resign for “breaching the Church Militant morality clause,” according to Jack Jenkins, reporting for Religion News Service. Michael Sean Winters reflects on the need for prayer and pity for Voris.
Dr. Shannen Dee Wiliams honored
Dr. Shannen Dee Williams, an AUSCP keynoter in 2021, won the Wesley-Logan Prize for her book, “Subversive Habits: Black Catholic Nuns in the Long African American Freedom Struggle.” Williams also won the 2022 Letitia Woods Brown Award for Best Book in African American Women’s History from the Association of Black Women Historians. Another article from Black Catholic Messenger.
A film sheds light on 11 daring women whose defiant act changed the Episcopal Church, according to a review for Religion News Service. “The Philadelphia Eleven” depicts the buildup toward the so-called irregular ordination at which four bishops ordained 11 women as priests without the denomination’s approval.
The Associated Press reports on a new documentary that offers a peek into the triumphs and struggles of Muslim chaplains in the US military. Three chaplains are featured, including the first female Muslim chaplain in U.S military.
Christmas tree arrives in St Peter’s Square
The 28-meter (91 feet) tall spruce comes from the area of Macra, in the Piedmont region of Italy. This year’s tree will be officially inaugurated with a lighting ceremony on December 9.
Word of the Year
In an age of deep fakes and post-truth, as artificial intelligence rose and Elon Musk turned Twitter into X, the Merriam-Webster word of the year for 2023 is “authentic.”