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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 feasts:  St. Peter Damian (optional memorial), St. Robert Southwell (Roman Martyrology); Feast of the Chair of St. Peter (Vatican).

📜 Today’s readings:  Sir 2:1-11 ▪  Ps 37:3-4, 18-19, 27-28, 39-40 ▪  Mk 9:30-37.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  The Jesuit order has announced further restrictions on Fr. Marko Rupnik after an investigation concluded that accusations against him were highly credible (Italian full text, English translation, AP, Il Sismografo,, Silere non possum).

2:  The man arrested on suspicion of killing Los Angeles auxiliary Bishop David O’Connell is the husband of the bishop’s housekeeper (Archbishop José H. Gómez statement, Pablo Kay & Tom Hoffarth, Michelle La Rosa).

3:  Ukrainian Greek Catholic leader Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has told Vatican journalists that “every Ukrainian soul is deeply wounded” after a year of war (Feb. 20 catechesis, Ukrainian video).

4:  IOR president Jean-Baptiste De Franssu has said that senior Vatican officials offered him “protection” to help a suspicious property deal go through.

5:  Stanisław Grygiel, a collaborator of St. John Paul II, has died in Rome at the age of 89 (Veritas Amoris Project, Italian tribute, JPII Institute, Polish statement).

6:  Bishop Thomas Paprocki critiques Cardinal Robert McElroy’s “radical inclusion” essay (Archbishop Joseph Naumann).

7:  And papal interlocutor Leonid Sevastyanov has said that Pope Francis told him he wants to visit Russia’s Land of the Leopard National Park after naming one of the park’s leopards Martín Fierro.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🧐  Look closer

Fraternity cubed  Shortly after Pope Francis signed the “Document on Human Fraternity” during his visit to Abu Dhabi in 2019, authorities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) unveiled plans for an “Abrahamic Family House.”

The new structure, earmarked for the UAE’s Saadiyat Island, would house a church, mosque, and synagogue, in an architectural embodiment of the document, which appealed for a “culture of dialogue” among religious believers.

Ghanaian-British architect David Adjaye unveiled a design in which three cube-shaped houses of worship of equal dimensions sit on a secular visitor pavilion, representing “universality and totality — something higher, that enhances the richness of human life.”

Work began under the supervision of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity, which said the building would serve as “a beacon of mutual understanding, harmonious coexistence, and peace among people of faith and goodwill.”

The Abrahamic Family House — consisting of the St. Francis Church, Imam Al-Tayeb Mosque, and Moses Ben Maimon Synagogue — was officially inaugurated Feb. 16. It will open to the public March 1, with visitors admitted free but required to book in advance.

A ‘new phase’  On Sunday, English Cardinal Michael Fitzgerald presided at a thanksgiving prayer service in St. Francis Church. This was the first prayer service held at the church, which will be consecrated at a later date, after which sacraments can be administered.

  • Fitzgerald, who was representing Pope Francis, said that the pope would “encourage all of us, gathered here today, to continue in the culture of dialogue as our path; to adopt mutual cooperation as our code of conduct; and to endeavor to make reciprocal understanding the constant method of our undertakings.”

The cardinal, one of the Church’s leading experts on Islam, said in his address that it was “only right to thank God for the leaders of this country who have welcomed the building of this Abrahamic Family House, and who have welcomed us all here.”

Bishop Paolo Martinelli, the Vicar Apostolic of Southern Arabia, told the congregation that the world had “entered a new phase in the history of religions.”

  • “With the Abu Dhabi Document on Human Fraternity, a prophetic and far-sighted document, religions are presented in their original capacity to collaborate and contribute together to the formation of a more humane world, in which we all recognize ourselves as brothers and sisters, called to fraternity, to coexistence and tolerance, mutual acceptance and the promotion of justice and peace,” he said.

The Abrahamic Family House’s inauguration is likely to bring some this-worldly benefits to the UAE, cementing its position as a global center for interreligious relations and further strengthening its already close relationship with the Vatican.

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🔍 Stories to watch

🇵🇷  Puerto Rico’s bishops have issued a pastoral letter highlighting the island’s healthcare crisis (Spanish full text, report).

🇱🇺  New figures suggest the proportion of people identifying as Catholic in Luxembourg has fallen to 41%.

🇫🇷  The stained-glass windows in Paris’ Basilica of Saint-Denis are being restored.

🇻🇦  Vatican Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s French Wikipedia entry is the subject of an “edit war” (French report).

🇳🇬  Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has criticized attacks on banks following disruption caused by a currency swap.

🇨🇩  Congolese Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu has been elected president of Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM).

🇸🇬  The Global South Fellowship of Anglican Churches (GSFA) has said it is “no longer able to recognize the present Archbishop of Canterbury … as the ‘first among equals’ leader” of the Anglican Communion after the Church of England approved same-sex blessings (full statement).

📅  Coming soon

Feb. 22  Ash Wednesday; Pope Francis presides at Mass at Rome’s Basilica of St. Sabina at 4:30 p.m. local time (booklet).

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.

Feb. 27  Continental phase regional assembly for the Bolivarian region begins in Quito, Ecuador.

March 1  Africa synodal continental assembly begins in Addis Ababa.

March 3  Portugal’s bishops hold extraordinary plenary assembly to reflect on independent abuse report; Diocese of Mainz abuse report released.

March 4 Flame Congress takes place in London, England, featuring Cardinal Tagle.

March 6  Continental phase regional assembly for the Southern Cone region begins in Brazil.

March 9 Fifth and final synodal assembly of Germany’s synodal way begins; Cardinal Michael Czerny speaks at Gonzaga University.

March 13 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.

Have a happy feast of St. Peter Damian.
-- Luke

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