Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.
I’m Luke Coppen and I aim to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.
📜 Today’s readings: Gn 9:1-13 ▪ Ps 102:16-18, 19-21, 29 and 22-23 ▪ Mk 8:27-33.
🗞 Starting seven
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Papal audiences for Ufuk Ulutaş, Turkey’s incoming ambassador to the Holy See; Archbishop Paolo Pezzi, Archbishop of Mother of God at Moscow, Russia; Archbishop José Domingo Ulloa Mendieta of Panamá; Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Dean of the College of Cardinals; Andrea Monda, director of L’Osservatore Romano; Delegation from the United Bible Societies (full text); Heads of the Italian bishops’ conference’s service for the promotion of economic support to the Catholic Church (Italian full text).
Notice of a Vatican press conference on Feb. 17 presenting Pope Francis’ 2023 Lenten message.
🧐 Look closer
Now, the pope is due to publish his second volume in as many months: Cerca il tuo orizzonte (“Seek your horizon”), another book-length interview, this time with the telegenic Italian priest Fr. Davide Banzato.
Birth of genre The book-length interview has been a favored medium for popes since John Paul II released “Crossing the Threshold of Hope,” his collaboration with the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori, in 1994.
The book enabled the Polish pope to reach an audience unlikely to delve into his encyclicals or apostolic letters. It also allowed him to tackle topics in a more freewheeling, less official vein.
Benedict XVI had already published several book-length interviews when he succeeded John Paul II in 2005. The German pope published “Light of the World” with his regular German interlocutor Peter Seewald in 2010, near the end of his pontificate.
Pope Francis has embraced the modern papal custom with gusto. In 2016, he released “The Name of God Is Mercy,” a conversation with Andrea Tornielli, followed in 2017 by Politique et société, with the French sociologist Dominique Wolton (released in English as “The Path to Change”).
In 2018, the pope brought out “Strength of Vocation, Consecrated Life Today,” based on his conversations with the Spanish Claretian Fr. Fernando Prado (now a bishop). In 2021, he published Dei vizi e delle virtù (“Of Vices and Virtues”), with the Italian priest Fr. Marco Pozza, and Dio e il mondo che verrà (“God and the World to Come”) with the Italian journalist Domenico Agasso.
Legacy library In his latest book-length interview, Francis answers 10 questions on the eve of his 10th anniversary as pope, addressing topics ranging “from loneliness to indifference, from crisis of faith to peace of heart, from fear to poverty.”
The book is likely to raise the international profile of his interlocutor, Fr. Banzato, who presents the Italian television program I viaggi del cuore (“Journeys of the Heart”) and released the bestselling 2021 memoir Tutto ma prete mai (“Everything but never a priest”), subtitled “A story of rebellion and love.” The publication may also increase the visibility of Fr. Banzato’s New Horizons community, which has worked with young people in distress, in Rome and abroad, since 1991.
As he nears 10 years as pope, Francis is on the way to producing an entire shelf’s worth of book-length interviews. As with John Paul II and Benedict XVI, they will form a notable part of his legacy.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 The Archdiocese of Boston is preparing gender identity guidelines for Catholic schools.
🇧🇷 An agency of Brazil’s bishops’ conference is challenging illegal mining in a 24-million-acre region of the Amazon.
🇨🇩 Two Dominican priests have been dismissed from the clerical state in the Democratic Republic of the Congo after refusing to leave a parish.
📅 Coming soon
Feb. 20 Continental phase regional assembly for the Caribbean region begins in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Feb. 24 Study of abuse in the Catholic Church in Mecklenburg, Germany, due to be published.
Feb. 25 Nigeria’s general election.
Feb. 26 Start of Roman Curia’s Lenten spiritual exercises.
Have a happy feast of St. Juliana of Nicomedia.
Do you know someone who would appreciate reading this newsletter? Invite your friends to sign up here.