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Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.

I’m Luke Coppen and I seek to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.

😇 Today’s feast:  St. John Neumann.

📜 Today’s readings:  1 Jn 3:11-21  ▪  Ps 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5  ▪  Jn 1:43-51.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  Pope Francis highlighted Benedict XVI’s “wisdom, tenderness, and devotion” as he celebrated his funeral Mass in St. Peter’s Square on Thursday morning (full text, full video, photos, booklet).

2:  Almost 200,000 people paid their last respects to the pope emeritus over three days.

3:  A reportedly record-breaking 438,323 pilgrims completed the Camino de Santiago in 2022 (German report).

4:  Archbishop Nikola Eterović, the apostolic nuncio to Germany, has said that Benedict XVI asked him about the country’s synodal way at a meeting in September (German report).

5:  Sohrab Ahmari, Archbishop Charles Chaput, Paul Elie, Fr. Joseph Fessio, Cardinal Kurt Koch, Martin Mosebach, Msgr. Michael Nazir-Ali, Rabbi David Rosen, Fr. D. Vincent Twomey, R.J. Snell, Gianni Valente, and Kenneth J. Wolfe remember Benedict XVI.

6:  Deborah Netburn describes Joe Ferullo’s journey from L.A. television executive to publisher of the National Catholic Reporter.

7:  And the soccer World Cup trophy has visited Argentina’s shrine of Our Lady of Luján (Spanish report).

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🧐  Look closer

History repeats itself  When something is described as “unprecedented” in the Catholic Church’s history, it often turns out that it isn’t. Over the past 2,000 years, the Church seems to have recorded precedents for just about everything.

After Benedict XVI’s death on Dec. 31, at the age of 95, it was widely suggested that Pope Francis would be the first pontiff in modern history to celebrate his predecessor’s funeral.

Almost inevitably, a precedent soon turned up.

‘Magnificent triumphal entry’  In an article on the eve of the German pope’s funeral, Vatican News’ editorial director Andrea Tornielli noted that there was a “quite recent precedent.”

  • “It happened in February 1802, with the solemn funeral of Pius VI, celebrated in St. Peter’s Basilica by his successor Pius VII,” he wrote.

Pius VI was elected pope in 1775 and his pontificate was the 18th century’s longest. Taken prisoner by Napoleon, he died in exile in France in 1799, at the age of 81. His funeral was held immediately afterward in Valence, southeastern France, and his successor, Pius VII, was elected at a conclave in Venice.

Pius VII asked for his predecessor’s mortal remains to be brought to Rome.

  • “They were exhumed in December 1801 and traveled from Valence to Marseilles and from there, by ship, to Genoa,” Tornielli explained. “Having landed in Italy, the body of the exiled pontiff began a triumphal pilgrimage, with solemn obsequies celebrated at each stop. On Feb. 17, 1802, ‘the magnificent triumphal entry into Rome’ took place, with the cardinals awaiting the remains at Ponte Milvio. The solemn funeral ceremony was celebrated in St. Peter's Basilica in the presence of Pope Pius VII.”

‘Undeniably unprecedented’  Tornielli encouraged observers to focus on what was truly unprecedented in modern times about Benedict XVI’s pontificate.

  • “Undeniably unprecedented, was Pope Ratzinger's resignation, motivated by reasons of age and the lack of physical and mental strength to be able to sustain the responsibilities and the burden of commitments associated with the pontificate,” he wrote.

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🔍 Stories to watch

🇺🇸  Fr. Mike Schmitz’s “Catechism in a Year” is Apple’s number one podcast (chart).

🇧🇾  A Christian group has criticized the decision to give a papal honor to a close adviser of Belarus’ President Alexander Lukashenko.

🇫🇮  The head of Finland’s Orthodox Church has urged the country’s immigration service to respect Ukrainian refugees’ religious rights.

🇬🇪  Pope Francis has congratulated Patriarch Ilia II on his 90th birthday and 45th anniversary as head of the Georgian Orthodox Church.

🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿  Scotland’s Dunkeld diocese has elected a diocesan administrator after Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Bishop Stephen Robson.

🇰🇷  South Korea has nominated its first female ambassador to the Holy See (French report).

🇳🇬  Nigerian Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama has called for a “spirit of dialogue” as the country prepares for elections.

📅  Coming soon

Jan. 6  Pope celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on the feast of the Epiphany at 10 a.m. and recites the Angelus at noon.

Jan. 7  Maronite Church leader Cardinal Bechara Boutros al-Rahi begins first pastoral visit to U.K.

Jan. 8  Pope celebrates Mass in the Sistine Chapel and baptizes infants in the Sistine Chapel at 9:30 a.m. on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord and recites the Angelus at noon.

Jan. 9  Feast of the Baptism of the Lord (US).

Jan. 11  Funeral of Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr held in Ghana.

Jan. 14 Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco turns 80.

Jan. 21  Cardinal Vincent Nichols celebrates Mass marking the 400th anniversary of the establishment of the Jesuit’s British Province.

Jan. 22  U.S. Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children; March for Life in Paris, France.

Jan. 31  Pope Francis starts visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan; Meeting of Portuguese-speaking bishops’ meeting begins in Nampula, Mozambique.

Have a happy feast of St. John Neumann.
-- Luke

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