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 feast: Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum.
📜 Today’s readings: Heb 7:25—8:6 ▪ Ps 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17 ▪ Mk 3:7-12.
🗞 Starting seven
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Papal audiences for an ecumenical delegation from Finland, on the occasion of the feast of St. Henrik (Italian text); Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints; Cardinal Peter Turkson, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; a delegation of Buddhist monks from Cambodia (full text); Rome auxiliary Bishop Daniele Salera; Archbishop Giuseppe Baturi, secretary general of Italy’s bishops’ conference; Members of the Foundation for the Barracks of the Swiss Pontifical Guard.
🧐 Look closer
Benedict’s last works A posthumous book by Benedict XVI will be officially launched on Friday. “Che cos’è il Cristianesimo” (“What is Christianity”) is described by publisher Mondadori as “the book that Benedict XVI wanted to be published after his death,” which occurred on Dec. 31.
Although its publication date is Jan. 20, the volume is “already on sale in many Rome bookstores,” noted La Croix’s Vatican correspondent Loup Besmond de Senneville.
“Some of the essays, letters, and articles are already known. But there are five texts that have never been published in their entirety, a couple never at all. They concern, among other things, Islamic-Christian dialogue, the definition of the concept of religion and the meaning of communion,” he explained.
How did it come about? The French Vatican news agency I.MEDIA said that the 192-page book contains a total of 16 texts written by the pope emeritus between 2014 and 2022, and entrusted for publication to Elio Guerriero, the Italian director of the theological journal Communio.
Guerriero says in the book’s introduction that Benedict instructed him to publish the texts after his death because of the hullabaloo surrounding the publication of his essay on priestly celibacy in the 2020 book “From the Depths of Our Hearts,” compiled by Cardinal Robert Sarah.
Guerriero quotes a letter from Benedict, saying: “The fury of the circles that oppose me in Germany is so strong that the appearance of the slightest word of mine immediately provokes a murderous uproar on their part.”
What are the highlights? Loup Besmond de Senneville suggested that the most notable text is an essay entitled “Monotheism and Tolerance,” in which Benedict laments “the growing intolerance exercised precisely in the name of tolerance” in Western societies.
“The intolerance of this apparent modernity towards the Christian faith has not yet turned into open persecution. But it presents itself in an ever more authoritarian manner, aiming to achieve, with the legislation that follows, the extinction of what is essentially Christian,” he writes.
What’s next Benedict XVI’s volume is not the only new Catholic book gaining attention this January. On Jan. 12, the German pope’s personal secretary Archbishop Georg Gänswein released a candid memoir.
Also likely to drive headlines is Cardinal Gerhard Müller’s new work, “In buona fede” (“In Good Faith”), due to be released by Solferino on Jan. 27. The book-length interview with Vaticanist Franca Giansoldati touches on his abrupt departure as prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and his highly critical view of the new Vatican constitution “Praedicate evangelium,” among other spicy topics.
English readers may have a while to wait before the three new books appear in translation.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇧🇷 A Brazilian bishop has approved a prayer for private devotion to Benedict XVI.
🏴 A spokesperson for Scotland’s bishops has said that proposals to expand a law on “conversion therapy” could “criminalize mainstream religious pastoral care.”
📅 Coming soon
Jan. 21 Walk for Life West Coast; U.S. bishops’ annual collection for Church in Latin America; Pope Francis due to receive Ecuador’s President Guillermo Lasso; Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrates Mass marking the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit’s British Province.
Jan. 23 Vatican press conference on the ecumenical prayer vigil ahead of the synod on synodality; Vatican-hosted symposium on Hansen’s Disease begins; U.S. Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children.
Jan. 25 Pope Francis presides at Vespers at the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls at 5:30 p.m. local time.
Feb. 3 Cardinal Domenico Calcagno turns 80.
Feb. 5 Europe’s continental synodal assembly begins in Prague.
Have a happy feast of Sts. Marius, Martha, Audifax, and Abachum.
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