On this Wisdom Wednesday in Advent, we reflect on the soon-to-be-announced account of Joseph and Mary traveling to Bethlehem for the imperial census. We find – for the first time – that Christians now are less than half of England and Wales. This census is among several measurements in the news today.
- For the first time, less than half of the population of England and Wales is Christian, Census 2021 shows.
- Almost a quarter of the world’s countries used force to prevent religious gatherings because of COVID-19.
- Partisans agree! More than eight-in-ten Republicans and Democrats say spending time with family provides them a great deal or quite a bit of meaning and fulfillment.
- Partisans differ, however, on drawing meaning from their religious faith. And the “meaning in life” has changed over the past four years.
- Interactive: Where people around the world find meaning in life
- Where Americans find meaning in life has changed over the past four years
- Most U.S. adults – including a solid majority of Christians and large numbers of people who identify with other religious traditions – consider the Earth sacred and believe God gave humans a duty to care for it. But a new Pew Research Center survey also finds that highly religious Americans are far less likely than other U.S. adults to express concern about warming temperatures around the globe.
Other news and views
- What is the root of the U.S. bishops’ culture war mentality? Jim Purcell in NCR says that it is “hierarchicalism.”
- Black Catholic Messenger editor, Nate Tinner-Williams, says the Georgetown Reconciliation Fund will award $400,000 annually to benefit descendants of Jesuit slaves.
- The U.S. Congress considers codifying same-sex marriage after long battle for gay rights.
- First it was prayer on the football field. Now it is inclusion of Judeo-Christian references in an official document in Tennessee.
- Asian faiths are trying to save the swastika symbol corrupted by Hitler
- Pence calls on Trump to apologize for dinner with an anti-Semite.
- US bishops call for vigilance on anti-Semitism in all of its forms
Dig a little deeper
As you know, at the recent U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops fall meeting in Baltimore (Nov. 14-17), pro-Francis bishops lost for the most part to anti-Francis bishops in elections to the conference’s top offices, sending a loud message to Rome and the rest of the English-speaking world. Phyllis Zagano writes:
The church’s right wing is celebrating the new USCCB president, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, a career Vatican diplomat who has headed the Archdiocese for the Military Services since 2007. From 1990 to 2001, Broglio was an influential aide to Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano. It was during Broglio’s time in Rome that the cardinal blocked investigations of notorious sexual abuser Fr. Marcial Maciel Delgado.
German Church allows LGBTQ employees
The Church, which employees around 800,000 people in Germany, has changed its labor laws so that people can no longer be fired for being in a same-sex relationship or remarrying after divorce.
Welcoming the stranger
A first-hand report on a busload of migrants who arrived in Chicago last week.
They looked tired and rumpled after a 20-hour ride—and suddenly not like the abstract idea of migrants we had been hearing about and instead like families with little kids and young couples and single men who were specific and individual and here.”
The China question: Who appoints bishops?
Beijing and the Vatican are once again tangling over the prickly issue of appointing Chinese bishops. After complaints from the Vatican that Beijing was violating a 2018 interim accord, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian on Monday said the country is willing to expand the “friendly consensus” achieved with the Vatican over bishop nominations. The Vatican issued an unusually harsh statement Saturday complaining that Beijing on Nov. 24 had installed Bishop John Peng Weizhao as an auxiliary bishop in the province of Jiangxi, which the Vatican doesn’t recognize as a diocese.
Caring for our clergy
Are we experiencing a clergy mental health crisis? The Christian Century reports The stress of the past few years has brought many to the breaking point.
Faith: Belief or Trust
Here is a thoughtful idea: There are two kinds of faith. They sound the same but turn out to be very different. The first is the desire to attain a level of certainty, conviction, and passion that somehow carries us over the chasm of doubt, distress, and despair.
Trust, rather than belief, is the better part of faith.
And Sam Wells distinguishes between easy believism and faith grounded in trust.
A December calendar
Let’s try something. Check out the following entries from an Interfaith Calendar, for the month of December. Some unfamiliar names and traditions are included – perhaps an augmented context for the usual lame greeting, Happy Holidays.
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