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 saints: Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
📜 Today’s readings: Sir 1:1-10 ▪ Ps 93:1ab, 1cd-2, 5 ▪ Mk 9:14-29.
🗞 Starting seven
2: Bishop Daniele Libanori, S.J., has said that he doesn’t “have any information” about why the statute of limitations was not waived in the case of Fr. Marko Rupnik (Luisella Scrosati, Il Sismografo).
4: Cardinal Blase Cupich criticizes “voices that insist the Church must exclude sinners from fuller participation in the life of the Church until they have reformed, out of respect for God’s justice” (Phil Lawler, Carl E. Olson).
5: Austen Ivereigh says that 10 years into Pope Francis’ reign, there is now “a climate of service and of freedom” at the Vatican, until recently “notorious for its haughty manner, its centralism and its authoritarianism” (Andrea Gagliarducci).
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Papal audiences for Cardinal Arthur Roche, prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments; Cardinal Mauro Gambetti, Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica, Vicar General of His Holiness for Vatican City, and President of the Fabric of St. Peter’s; Members of the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo (Italian address, Vatican News report); Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general of the General Secretariat of the Synod; Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, archbishop emeritus of Perugia-Città della Pieve, Italy; Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life (Italian address, Vatican News report); Members of St. Peter’s Circle (address).
Notice of a Vatican press conference on Feb. 23, presenting the results of the Pontifical Academy for Life’s Feb. 20-22 general assembly, on the theme “Converging on the Person. Emerging Technologies for the Common Good.”
🔄 Weekend round-up
On Saturday, Feb. 18, Pope Francis appointed members and consultors of the Dicastery for Culture and Education, received Lima Archbishop Carlos Gustavo Castillo Mattasoglio and others in audience, addressed participants in a formation course for legal practitioners, organized by the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, and spoke to delegates at a conference organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life. An interview with the pope was broadcast on Canale 5’s “Journeys of the Heart” program.
🧐 Look closer
The Feb. 13-18 gathering in Bethania-Harissa, outside the capital Beirut, was unique among continental assemblies as it brought together leaders of six Eastern Catholic Churches in full communion with Rome — Copts, Syriacs, Maronites, Melkites, Chaldeans, and Armenians — as well as Latin Church members.
The final statement noted that Eastern Catholic Churches have a wealth of experience when it comes to synodality, the topic of a global, multi-year process ending with the synod on synodality in Rome.
“Synodalism is a core of the heritage of our Eastern Churches,” the statement said. “Unity in diversity through unity in communion and the mission and testimony of churches. The roots of common churches are the basis of a unified message.”
Common concerns In their closing statement, delegates “reaffirmed” a series of points that they described as “basic constants of the Church.”
The Middle Eastern text highlighted “the importance of the role and mission of women in the Church and their participation in decision-making and service,” while the European one called for “concrete and courageous decisions on the role of women within the Church and on their greater involvement at all levels, also in decision-making and decision-taking processes.”
The Bethania-Harissa meeting appealed “for a liturgical renewal that is compatible with the aspirations of our youth while preserving its essence and symbols,” while the Prague summit asked for more reflection on “the tensions around the liturgy, so as to synodally re-understand Eucharist as the source of communion.”
Middle Eastern delegates supported a continuation of “the synodal spirit in each Church,” while Europeans urged a deepening of “the practice, theology, and hermeneutics of synodality.”
‘Hope in suffering’ A distinctive feature of the Middle East’s closing statement was its emphasis on the local Church’s suffering and the need to prevent an exodus of young Catholics, driven by war, poverty, and persecution.
The text underlined the need for “fellowship and hope in suffering” and steps “towards a Church as humble as a ‘mustard seed’ (Matthew 13:31-32), called to grow and expand amidst the challenge of survival and the rejection of emigration.”
The assembly is expected to produce a fuller final document, to be sent to the Vatican by March 31. The General Secretariat of the Synod will use the text, and those of the other six continental assemblies, to create a working document for October’s synod on synodality.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇨🇭 A group of priests in the Swiss Diocese of Chur has said that recent changes to a controversial code of conduct “raise more questions than they answer” (German report, priests’ statement, bishops’ statement, code of conduct).
🇦🇹 In an interview marking 25 years since he received the red hat, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, 78, has said that his successor as Archbishop of Vienna must “have a heart, mind, and sense of responsibility” (German report).
🇩🇪 German bishops’ conference chairman Bishop Georg Bätzing has courted controversy by wearing a carnival weekend costume with a top saying there is more to his Diocese of Limburg than a “gold bathtub,” in reference to his predecessor, dubbed the “bishop of bling” (Kath.net).
📅 Coming soon
Feb. 24 First anniversary of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine; Ireland’s Day of Prayer for Survivors and Victims of Abuse; 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.
March 1 Africa synodal continental assembly begins in Addis Ababa.
March 13 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.
Have a happy feast of Sts. Jacinta and Francisco Marto.
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