Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday. We will lead off with a Vatican News report – a kind of synthesis of the synthesis. Looking ahead to the second session in 2024, the text offers reflections and proposals on topics such as the role of women and the laity, the ministry of bishops, priesthood and the diaconate, the importance of the poor and migrants, digital mission, ecumenism, and abuse.
Also this week, we offer a call from faith-based groups who want a ceasefire, not just a pause in the Israeli Hamas war, a story about “Pope Francis laundromats,” and an ugly story about a commentator who calls for killing Catholic Charity workers at the southern border. Please remember that opinions published are opinions of columnists and writers – obvious when the commentator calls for murder, or less obvious when a commentator says the Israelis are engaged in ethnic cleansing.
Some disturbing findings are reported about Catholic ownership of enslaved people. CROSS, the Catholic Religious Organizations Studying Slavery org gathered in St. Louis recently. Two early bishops of St. Louis owned people.
A major survey in India finds general acceptance of other faith traditions, They show respect to others but want to live separately.
Our last item provides respite from all the words included, with images to ponder, photographs illustrating religion in recent news,
Synodal synthesis of synthesis
Vatican News has provided a summary of the multi-page synodal synthesis, topic by topic. And since we are just one year away from the presidential election, we note in particular that the synodal synthesis says the Church is urged to be committed both to the “public denunciation of the injustices” perpetrated by individuals, governments, and companies; and to active engagement in politics, associations, trade unions, popular movements (4f and 4g).
Christopher White, writing for NCR, describes some of the tension inside the October gathering. Pope Francis has asked synod members to refrain from speaking publicly about the nature of the proceedings this month. White’s account is based on interviews with multiple delegates who requested anonymity because of the pope’s request. They each described the synod’s revamped and expanded process as a positive development, but one with a steep learning curve.
“This is the church we are called to ‘dream’: a church that is the servant of all, the servant of the least of our brothers and sisters; a church that never demands an attestation of ‘good behavior,’ but welcomes, serves, loves, forgives; a church with open doors that is a haven of mercy,” Pope Francis said. The story, from Catholic News Service published in NCR, written by Carol Glatz.
“Why the new synod report gives me hope.” Father John McKenzie writes on how the new synthesis document from the Synod on Synodality speaks to his experience as a Black Catholic priest.
Politics and religion
In response to Mike Johnson recently becoming the new House speaker, over 12,000 people have signed a Christian petition condemning the congressman as a “false prophet” among other Republican Party members.
Elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson also teaches classes at Liberty University and (until last year) was co-host of Washington Watch, the radio talk show of Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. He is, in a word, an avatar of the evangelical political movement that got underway in the mid-1970s.
War news can change in an hour or less. This week’s Wisdom Wednesday was prepared on Monday, so news from Israel and Gaza will likely be vastly different when you read this on Wednesday. To get fresh perspective, we suggest reading stories from the American Associated Press, the British-based publication, The Guardian, or Vatican News.
What will never change during a war is the need for prayer. Muslim and Christian children, all the students at the Franciscan school in Jerusalem, gathered to draw, write and pray together.
“We are praying with all our being for Israel in this time of horrific suffering,” says an opinion writer in National Catholic Reporter.
Faith-based groups protests for cease-fire in Gaza are gaining momentum, according to a report from Religion News Service. “We don’t need a pause, we need it ended — we need it to cease,” the Rev. Darrell Hamilton II said of the violence in Gaza.
Writer Omar Suleiman, who writes an opinion column, Islam Beyond Phobia, says, “Don’t look away. Israel’s response is textbook ethnic cleansing.” Suleiman bases his opinion on a leaked document he claims “shows Israel sees the war as an opportunity to push Palestinians into Egypt. In just three weeks, more Palestinian children have been killed by Israeli bombing in Gaza than have all children in all of the world’s conflict zones since 2019.
The UN has warned of a “catastrophic” situation for children in Gaza, as Israeli bombs hit a school being used as a shelter and landed outside a hospital, and Israel came under mounting pressure over the civilian suffering caused by its campaign. More than 40% of the dead in Gaza after nearly four weeks of war were children.
Kiev plans to prosecute Patriarch Kirill, head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
Ukraine announces criminal proceedings against Patriarch Kirill for “justifying” the Russian invasion of its territory and for referring to it as a battle against the “forces of evil.”
Christian group seeks control of Colorado libraries
The adage, “all politics is local,” seems to be at the root of a move by Health and wealth preacher Andrew Wommack. He teaches that Christians should reform nations and rule over the godless, but his Truth & Liberty Coalition has started by pushing its local candidates in some 30 school districts across Colorado.
Aid trickled in to villages Monday in Nepal’s northwest mountains flattened by a strong earthquake over the weekend as villagers searched through the rubble of their collapsed homes to salvage what was left of their belongings.
Children in Nepal are at risk in the snow and freezing weather following the earthquake.
COP28 UAE – Climate Crisis
Pope Francis will travel to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, for the COP28 climate summit on 1-3 December, just two months after the publication of his Apostolic Exhortation ‘Laudate Deum’ on the climate crisis. COP28 will be a milestone moment when the world will take stock of its progress on the Paris Agreement.
‘Pope Francis laundromats’
Two facilities offering showers and washing machines to the homeless and economically disadvantaged have opened in Turin, Italy. Another story from Vatican News.
Black Catholic parishes to close
Three Black Catholic parishes in New Orleans will close in 2024. The announcement comes amid ongoing financial challenges related to clergy sex abuse, but Nate Tinner-Williams reports the archdiocese says its bankruptcy is unrelated to the closures.
Archivists seek slavery information
The Catholic Religious Organizations Studying Slavery org gathered in St. Louis for a two-day affair, seeking ways forward and sharing best practices. Perhaps somewhat unique among Catholic jurisdictions in the United States, the Archdiocese of St. Louis possesses an ignominious distinction related to slavery: both of its first two bishops—Joseph Rosati, CM and Peter Kenrick—held a number of African Americans in bondage while serving as prelates of the Church.
Film review: Finding Us examines Jesuit slavery
The descendants of Jesuit slavery have a new kind of voice in the film, according to Nate Tinner-Williams. He says the 2022 film does well in centering survivors and their quest to reunite their family.
Muslim military chaplains find resilience in faith. The new documentary premiered on PBS Nov. 6, finding unexpected resonance with its interfaith message amid the ongoing Israel-Hamas war.
India faiths diverse and devout
India is home to most of the world’s Hindus, Jains and Sikhs, but it also is home to one of the world’s largest Muslim populations and to millions of Christians and Buddhists. A major new Pew Research Center survey of religion across India, based on nearly 30,000 face-to-face interviews of adults conducted in 17 languages between late 2019 and early 2020 (before the COVID-19 pandemic), finds that Indians of all these religious backgrounds overwhelmingly say they are very free to practice their faiths
Pictures of faith
Each week Religion News Service presents a gallery of photos of religious expression around the world. This week’s photo gallery includes Day of the Dead and related commemorations, shooting reactions in Lewiston, Maine, and more.
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