Wisdom Wednesday | October 18th

AUSCP NewsOctober 18Roundup

The Israeli response to the horrendous attack from Hamas once again tops world news, along with concerns for Palestinian families in Gaza fleeing to the south. News reports in the Catholic world examine from the outside what is happening on the inside at the Synod on Synodality.

Jesuit Thomas Reese says covering synods for the media is not easy, given his observation that “Pope Francis does not like the Western press, which he thinks focuses on hot-button issues.” Even so, says writer Peter Daly, the synodal process has already changed the spirit at pastor Andy Switzer’s parish in West Virginia. (Reese will be a speaker at the 2024 AUSCP Assembly in Lexington; both Daly and Switzer are former members of the AUSCP Leadership Team.)

We search for wisdom this week, revisiting with Cardinal Blase Cupich the landmark “Seamless Garment” essay of Cardinal Joseph Bernadin.

Another Chicago offering is an interview with a parish priest who just completed his fiftieth marathon run for charity. (Yes, his fiftieth!)

All opinions expressed in the articles below are the opinions of the writers, particularly noted in these troublesome times.

Always seeking something away from the top stories, we offer some “Eco-tips” and other resources, even a concluding viewpoint on facing the monsters in the Bible.

Synod on Synodality

Jesuit Thomas Reese notes that “The Vatican wishes to project an image of prayerful harmony in which the bishops exchange ideas with no conflict.

The media, on the other hand, thrives on conflict. You will never read a headline saying, ‘Participants love one another; everything is fine.’

Covering synods for the media is not easy


Reese also says It takes a Dominican to explain a Jesuit pope. Francis, the Jesuit pope, chose a Dominican, Timothy Radcliffe, to set the tone for his Synod on Synodality, which has been under attack by reactionaries in the church.

It takes a Dominican to explain a Jesuit pope


Here’s one way to look at it: The Synod on Synodality “finds its voice after Pope Francis enforces silence.”

Synod on Synodality finds its voice after Pope Francis enforces silence


Contrary to what some critics say, participants say the synod is not driven by the “private agenda” of Pope Francis. The report comes from Crux Now.



In an episode of “The Vatican Briefing,” Vatican experts Joshua McElwee and Christopher White interview one of the 13 members of the committee expected to draft the hotly anticipated final document from Pope Francis’ ongoing summit on the future of the Catholic Church. Australian Bishop Shane Mackinlay expresses openness to ordaining women as Catholic deacons.



Many U.S. dioceses and parishes did little or nothing to prepare for or contribute to the synod. But some parishes took the whole process seriously. One such parish is St. Agnes Church in Shepherdstown, West Virginia, in the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese. The writer of this opinion column is Peter Daly, and the parish pastor is Andy Switzer, both former members of the AUSCP Leadership Team. The article was published by NCR online.

Synodal process has already changed the spirit of one West Virginia parish


War in the Holy Land

Pope Francis phoned Holy Family parish — the only Catholic parish in Gaza — the evening of Oct. 15, Vatican News reported. Rosary Sister Nabila Saleh said Father Youssef Asaad passed her the phone because he doesn’t speak Italian as well as she does.

Pope calls Gaza parish staff as bombing continues

Pope Francis’ representative in the Holy Land said on Monday he was willing to exchange himself for Israeli children taken hostage by Hamas and held in Gaza. Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Patriarch of Jerusalem, made his comment in response to a question during a video conference with journalists in Italy.https://thedeaconsbench.com/heroism-jerusalem-patriarch-offers-to-be-exchanged-for-gaza-hostages/

The Vatican seeks to defuse tensions with Israel as it offers mediation in the Holy Land. The Israeli foreign minister has asked for ‘an unequivocal and clear condemnation’ of Hamas by the Holy See.

Vatican seeks to defuse tensions with Israel as it offers mediation in the Holy Land

News watch: Ask yourself: How is the “conflict” in the Middle East being presented? Would you come away knowing that the United Nations classifies the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory as unlawful under international law, “due to its permanence” and “the Israeli Government’s de-facto annexation policies”?

Why you’re not seeing Palestinian suffering

More than a million people have fled their homes in the Gaza Strip ahead of an expected Israel invasion that seeks to eliminate Hamas’ leadership after its deadly incursion. Aid groups warn an Israeli ground offensive could hasten a humanitarian crisis.


President Joe Biden is urging Israel to exercise restraint as the country retaliates against the horrific Hamas attack this month, warning in a 60 Minutes interview Sunday that it would be a “big mistake” to occupy Gaza. Insisting that Israel “has to respond” to the October 7 carnage, Biden emphasized that the “extreme elements of Hamas don’t represent all the Palestinian people,” and called for Israel to abide by the “rules of war.”


Perspective: There’s no excuse for Hamas’ barbaric violence, but it’s not without cause. Some perspective on the Hamas-Israel war, and the reflections of a Catholic bishop living in a Muslim world.


The Seamless Garment, the Consistent Ethic of Life

Forty years ago this December, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin delivered a landmark address at Fordham University, one that set the course of his ministry and changed the way the church thought about life issues for years to come. (Thanks to AUSCP 2023 Saint John XXIII Award winner Emmet Farrell for suggesting this report.)


Viewpoint: Children are the future. Why doesn’t the U.S. act like it?

To address falling fertility rates, U.S. policymakers must invest in childhoods that approach parity with what has been standard in U.S. peer states.

Children are the future. Why doesn’t the U.S. act like it?


Survey: Is religion good for you? The answer is complicated, new global Gallup report finds. A review of 10 years of global polling looks at the complicated connection between spirituality and health.

Is religion good for you? The answer is complicated, new global Gallup report finds.


Consider this:

The Land is Not Our Own: Seeking Repair Alongside Indigenous Communities is a small group process, spiritual reorientation, and entryway into honoring God’s creation and protecting Native rights. A new program from JustFaith lifts up the voices of Native People to articulate a vision of hope and justice and care for creation.

The Little Flower

Pope Francis proposes the spirituality of the Little Flower for Church’s mission.

In a new apostolic exhortation, the pope invites Catholics to follow the “little spiritual path” of Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, underlining the Church’s true priorities


U.S. Bishops

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has announced the slate of candidates for a new secretary of the conference and several committee chairs. The choices the bishops make when they gather Nov. 13-16 in Baltimore for their fall plenary assembly will be a good indication of the direction in which the body of bishops wish to go.


A Black history toolkit

What the Rev. Rhonda Thomas started in Florida as a state-focused response has attracted interest in a far wider stretch of the country than she ever imagined.

Florida faith leader: Black history toolkit gains interest outside the state

Chicago priest completes fiftieth marathon

Check out Chicago Catholic for the interview. (Thanks to Monica Marie Kaiser for the tip about this video.)

Don’t sanitize monsters in the Bible

Esther Hamori, a biblical scholar and a practicing Jew, says that understanding biblical monsters is more than just a good story. “What if the biblical writers were onto something? I don’t mean the reality of monsters, but what if they had this powerful way of expressing something about the danger and unpredictability of life, and we just clean it up for them?” she asks. “If we sanitize their stories, that’s a loss.”


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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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