Welcome to Wisdom Wednesday.
Pastoral leadership is at the center of items popping up among the news and features of recent days. A Presbyterian pastor in Arlington Heights sparked a national discussion when he stepped down and away from the church. A Southern Baptist minister argues in a lawsuit that a pastor’s sin is a private matter. And a Texas bishop says no way will he walk away from his diocese – but the pope might tell him to.
Meanwhile, Martha Ligas leads the Community of St. Peter in Cleveland and is featured in the first installment of a series on the “Catholic Diaspora” by Tom Fox. Ligas, who in a recent community newsletter described herself as “not only a female, but a queer female, and not only a queer female but a queer female steeped in a catholic identity with a call to serve,” became a pastoral minister of the community in 2021.
A rabbi columnist, quoting rock band R.E.M. and Martin Buber, finds members of his faith – and most others – losing their religion.
A Pew survey looks at pastors and their congregations and finds that Mainline clergy are more liberal than their congregants
You will also find features on “Doctor Sister Mary Glowery” of India and the late Don Senior, a writer beloved by the AUSCP.
Opinions expressed by writers in our selected articles are the views of the writers, and not the views of the AUSCP. Their selection in Wisdom Wednesday is the synodal request – not to agree – but to listen. Items may be identified as a “Survey” or a “Viewpoint” or some other qualifying term.
We begin with Pope Francis . . .
Pope Francis addressed the Clinton Global Initiative through a live video call, and invited people of goodwill to seek the common good, especially for the good of vulnerable children, who must always be cared for even in the darkest of times.
Think of someone who has hurt you and ask God for the strength to forgive that person, Pope Francis told the crowd gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.
The Vatican also brings its message for peace in Ukraine to Beijing. The meeting with Chinese officials is the latest step in Pope Francis’ appeals for peace in Ukraine.
. . . and Pope Pius XII
Newly discovered correspondence suggests that World War II-era Pope Pius XII had detailed information from a trusted German Jesuit that up to 6,000 Jews and Poles were being gassed each day in German-occupied Poland. The documentation undercuts the Holy See’s argument that it couldn’t verify diplomatic reports of Nazi atrocities to denounce them.
Other Pastoral Matters
Reports of forced retirement have prompted defiance from embattled Bishop Strickland. In an email, the East Texas bishop told RNS that he ‘cannot voluntarily abandon the flock that I have been given charge of as a successor of the apostles.’
Is a pastor’s sin a private matter? The Johnny Hunt lawsuit makes that claim. The former SBC president and longtime megachurch pastor covered up his sexual misconduct for a decade. Now he’s suing SBC leaders for revealing his sins.
Alex Lang thought he was done with the pastorate for good. On Sunday, Aug. 27, Lang bid farewell to the congregation at First Presbyterian Church in Arlington Heights, Illinois, where he’d served for a decade. Lang’s essay, entitled “Why I Left the Church,” went viral. Some pastors resonated with his concerns, while others saw his leaving as a lack of faith
Former Catholics are everywhere. This diaspora, in differing degrees detached from institutional Roman Catholicism, often takes shape in communities that still claim the name Catholic. Tom Roberts offers the first of a five-part series from NCR
Mainline clergy are more supportive than their congregants of LGBTQ rights, more likely to have opposed the overturn of Roe v. Wade and less likely to believe America is in danger of losing its culture and identity. A new survey of mainline clergy finds half of mainline pastors identify as Democrats, only 14 percent as Republicans: it is the inverse of evangelical clergy.
Martini Judaism: REM was right, on ‘losing my religion’
Has religion failed us, or have we failed religion? A century old book contains an answer to our spiritual emptiness. Rabbi Jeffrey Salkin takes Martin Buber’s book to heart. (Martini Judaism is for those who want to be shaken and stirred.)
The Jesuit slavery descendants foundation announces $27M in new donations. Criticism has emerged, however, from some descendants of the Maryland Jesuits’ slaveholding—and an infamous 1838 sale to save Georgetown University.
Also in the news . . .
Canada has expelled an Indian diplomat as it investigates India’s possible link to the killing of a Sikh activist. Two years after the Taliban banned girls from school beyond sixth grade the rights of Afghan women and children are on the agenda of the United Nations General Assembly Monday in New York. Men incarcerated at Louisiana State Penitentiary filed a class-action lawsuit Saturday, describing work in 100 degree heat and the conditions as cruel, degrading and often dangerous.
Research and Surveys
The American family has undergone significant change in recent decades. There is no longer one predominant family form, and Americans are experiencing family life in increasingly diverse ways.
Across South and Southeast Asia, countries have very different religious makeups, yet there are commonalities in how they practice and think about religion, according to a new Pew Research report.
We are made for relationship. We are born into relationships. We seek relationships and struggle with relationships. And it’s this relational web that shines in the exceptional, observant, and sometimes bawdy HBO dramedy Somebody, Somewhere. A review in U.S. Catholic says The HBO dramedy is an ode to the complexity of what it means to be church to one another.
The oldest Black Catholic Church in Atlanta is “in the shadow of Ebenezer” – associated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Christopher Gurley Jr. reviews a striking historical monograph from Dr. Leah Mickens, the winner of the inaugural Cyprian Davis, OSB, Prize in 2021.
What kind of people are we? “I had begun, instead, to wonder about something far more worrisome than one man prowling the world’s political stage for the sake of his own self-aggrandizement — strutting to identify himself with one class and smirking to reject another. No, now I found myself wondering what kind of people we were who would simply accept it all.” Benedictine Sister of Erie, Pennsylvania, Joan Chittister ponders politics and the population.
Is praise music easy to sing? Or vague and bland? Keith and Kristyn Getty’s hymn conference in Nashville brought Christians together to sing tunes from historic hymnals, from Celtic traditions and new creations — and to share a common love and culture of sacred music. They are in part a bulwark against the takeover by megachurch music, known as “praise and worship” songs.
U.S. Catholic examines a central teaching of Father Don Senior, on the importance of coming to know Jesus in a personal way.
Doctor Sister Mary Glowrey, JMJ, was an Australian born and educated medical missionary founded India’s largest non-government healthcare network 80 years ago. It is now called the Catholic Health Association of India and comprises more than 3,500 healthcare and social service member institutions across India. Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart was the first Catholic religious Sister to also practise as a doctor. She received permission from Pope Benedict XV in 1920, 16 years before Canon Law allowed other women religious to do the same.
You are invited to a presentation on priestly leadership in a time of climate crisis presented by Doctor V. Ramanathan, a renowned scientist at the University of California San Diego and member of the Governing Council of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. This presentation will be an in-person and a zoom conference sponsored the Association of United States Catholic Priests, AUSCP. Tuesday November 14th, at 6:30 p.m. EST (3:30 p.m. PST).
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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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