Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday, beginning with an editor’s dilemma. This collection of items is being compiled on Tuesday before any mid-term election results are known. So, in the absence of national election matters, we will begin with a look at an election among the U.S. bishops.
Way back, some time in 2009 or shortly afterward, I suggested to the AUSCP Leadership Team that the new Bishop of Cheyenne, Paul Etienne, was somebody to watch. Not because he was ambitious, but because he was not. He is not mentioned in this article (no one is) but the USCCB will be selecting someone next week.
An Indianapolis priest, Paul Etienne, was named bishop of Cheyenne, then Archbishop of Anchorage, a travel stretch for his close-knit family in southern Indiana, and now Archbishop of Seattle. Nicolette, is a Benedictine nun at Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove, Indiana; two brothers (Bernie and Zachary) are priests in the Diocese of Evansville.
(Disclosure: Another Etienne brother, Rick, a lay diocesan colleague, was formerly Director of Youth Ministry for the Diocese of Evansville, and later my financial advisor for many years.)
When the U.S. bishops gather November 14, Paul Etienne is one of the several candidates who might emerge as president of the USCCB, according to NCR’s Michael Sean Winters.
If you want to unite the bishops’ conference, it is important to find two candidates, one who can represent the more bishops with a more traditional bent, the other someone known for more aggressively embracing Francis’ reform agenda, who can serve as a unity ticket for the body. The reform candidate is obvious: Seattle Archbishop Paul Etienne. He hails from a diocese that is growing, with immigrant communities drawn from Asia as well as Latin America. Etienne has embraced environmental protection close to home, working with a developer known for creating sustainable buildings, to redevelop properties around the Cathedral of St. James. Firmly pro-life, Etienne is a consistent ethic of life champion in the manner of the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.”
About the Election
Seeking U.S. election coverage? Check out these news services, which I expect to provide post-election coverage. NCR and RNS.
Now to the dark side of the news. Fake Catholic newspapers are being mailed by right-wing extremists to unsuspecting Catholic families, in Phoenix and elsewhere. The intentionally misleading rag identifies itself as the “Arizona Catholic Tribune.”
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Phoenix said in an email that the church is “in no way affiliated or supportive of the ‘Arizona Catholic Tribune’ publication.”
“The Catholic organization and ministries in the Diocese of Phoenix do not engage in partisan politics and do not endorse candidates or parties during any election,” said Brett Meister, the diocese spokesperson. But experts say the paper is clearly designed to suggest otherwise.
“It seems to be pretty brazen,” said Matthew Jensen, an associate professor at the University of Oklahoma who focuses on online misinformation. “The format of the media, the implied endorsement, all of these things, it seems like they are meant to signal an authoritative source.”
Back home from Bahrain
Pope Francis gave an impassioned defense of women’s rights, strongly condemning the practice of female genital mutilation and decrying those who treat women as “second class citizens.” NCR reports on his trip to Bahrain.
The 85-year-old pope made the four-day visit to the Arabian Gulf, pleading for world peace, urging inter-Muslim dialogue and encouraging Catholics to resist violence.
The Pope’s stand on death penalty will be the Bahrain trip’s legacy, says an inmate’s wife.
Another Abuse Admission
Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church, said Monday (November 7) that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago, and is withdrawing from his religious duties. The move comes after a report issued last year revealed a large number of child sex abuse cases within the French Catholic Church.
Abuse in Rochester
Hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by Rochester-area priests have agreed to a financial settlement with the Diocese of Rochester.
The settlement will create a trust for the benefit of roughly 475 individuals who filed claims against the Diocese as part of its bankruptcy case. The Diocese, parishes and related entities will pay $55 million to the trust along with the rights to the Diocese’s insurance policies. Many of the survivors will be able to pursue their claims in court in order to recover proceeds from those policies.
Finally, one of the foremost religious icons had her name etched into New York City history on Friday (Nov 4), as dozens gathered for the commissioning of the Dorothy Day, the new Staten Island Ferry vessel named after the renowned Catholic journalist and activist.
Commissioning of the Dorothy Day ferry, she was “honored for disturbing the comfortable and comforting the disturbed.”
By the way, some advice from U.S. Catholic: Don’t just admire the saints—befriend them. Saints aren’t just spiritual advisers. They can also be personal friends.
As Christians, we believe that the kingdom of God is both “here” and “not yet.” God is intimately present to us, active in our daily lives. Likewise, we are never not in the presence of God. Yet we still look forward for the time when God’s kingdom will come to full fruition.
Nobel Peace Prize
Reforms: Women in ministry and governance
FutureChurch remains hopeful as the synod document released by the Vatican on October 27, 2022, advances reforms within the Church that Catholics have long advocated for, including women’s full participation in ministry and governance in the life of the Church.
The new Vatican synod document mentions women’s ordination, LGBTQ relationships. The text, titled ‘Enlarge the space of your tent,’ reckons with taboo topics to ensure ‘no one is excluded.’
Black Catholic History
Where to find a Black Catholic History Month event (2022 edition)? Looking for an in-person or virtual event celebrating Black Catholic History Month this November? The Black Catholic Messenger has you covered.
At the movies
A new film celebrates Emmett Till as a beloved Black boy before lynching. NCR reviews the movie.
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