Welcome to Starting 7, The Pillar’s new 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: All Saints.
📜 Today’s readings: Rv 7:2-4, 9-14 ▪ Ps 24:1bc-2, 3-4ab, 5-6 ▪ 1 Jn 3:1-3
▪ Mt 5:1-12a.
🗓 Today’s anniversaries: 200 years since the birth of St. Zygmunt Szczęsny Feliński; 40 years since the first issue of Crisis Magazine.
🗞 Starting seven
1: The bishop of Steubenville, Ohio, is facing a second Vos estis lux mundi investigation.
2: The Catholic Church could reduce the world’s carbon emissions by millions of tons by bringing back meat-free Fridays, a new study has concluded.
3: The Italian bishops’ conference has signed an agreement with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors to strengthen safeguarding worldwide (tweet, Italian statement).
4: The relics of St. Bernadette have visited the Ukrainian Greek Catholic cathedral in London, England (photos).
5: Andrea Gagliarducci analyzes why leading Italian Cardinal Matteo Zuppi presided at Vespers during a Traditional Latin Mass pilgrimage in Rome (Edward Pentin).
6: Katie Peterson reports on a grief ministry at a Catholic church in Nashville, Tennessee.
7: And Robert Ellsberg explains how his friendship with art historian Sr. Wendy Beckett “indelibly changed both our lives.”
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Appointment of Bishop Michael Kalu Ukpong as bishop of Umuahia, Nigeria, and Fr. Joseph Bui Cong Trac as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Thành-Phô-Hô Chí Minh, Vietnam; Resignation of 73-year-old Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg, Germany, accepted.
Pope Francis asked for prayers for his trip to Bahrain and for peace in Ukraine in his All Saints’ Day Angelus address (Italian report).
🧐 Look closer
A polarized tent Catholics are continuing to debate the significance of the “Document for the Continental Stage” of the synod on synodality, released by the Vatican last week. The 56-page text, entitled “Enlarge the space of your tent,” summarizes the results of the initial “diocesan phase” of the global synodal process.
The document, drafted by a team of around 50 experts in the Italian city of Frascati, noted “the polarizations that many Churches experience.” Not surprisingly, the text has also provoked sharply contrasting reactions.
Views from the left Writing at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), Kate McElwee described the text as “a small revolution.” The executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference focused on the document’s recognition that a “diversity of opinion was expressed on the subject of priestly ordination for women” in local reports.
“The Vatican’s admittance that the teaching on women’s ordination is not a consistently held belief among Catholics reveals a spirit of openness and accountability to the people of God,” she wrote. “The very fact that those challenging voices — many of which were filtered out at the local level — broke through means this call is strong and clear.”
Natalia Imperatori-Lee told NCR that the text’s release was “a real Vatican II moment for the Church and a real moment of reception for the Council.”
“You get the sense that the people who prepared this document didn’t go in with an agenda, but rather worked really hard to gather up the insights and to see really where some of these contributions rhymed,” said the chair of Manhattan College’s religious studies department.
Views from the right The New York priest Fr. Gerald E. Murray asked rhetorically whether anything in the document strengthened or promoted fidelity to Christ’s teachings. “Of course not,” he wrote at The Catholic Thing. “It’s about changing the Church.”
“There is plainly an open revolution going on in the Church today,” he contended, “an attempt to convince us that an embrace of heresy and immorality is not sinful, but rather a response to the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking through people who feel marginalized by a Church that has, up to now, been unfaithful to its mission.”
Writing at the Austrian Catholic website kath.net, Joachim Heimerl likened the tent of the document’s title to a “circus tent.”
“Overall, the document heralds a paradigm shift,” he argued. “The Church is no longer a community hierarchically related to Christ, but an ‘open’ society that gives itself its contemporary [zeitgeistigen] laws. Of course, this is formulated in a more agreeable way: one speaks of a ‘Church capable of radical inclusion.’”
Wildcard views Stephen White told the NCR that synodality helped all baptized Catholics to share responsibility for the Church’s mission.
“That said, the focus of the synod thus far, and of the document in particular, has been largely horizontal and subjective,” he said. “How do we get the most people to feel listened to and welcome? These are important dimensions in the life of the Church, no doubt. But they don’t get to the heart of the Church’s mission.”
Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci suggested that the document was limited by a reliance on sociological vocabulary.
“The terminology is sociological because, in the end, everybody listens, lives, and works in worlds outside the vocabulary of the Church,” he wrote at his MondayVatican blog. “If this is the case, there is no way out of secularization and the problem of secularization.”
What’s next The working document will be used as “a tool for discussion” at continental gatherings of Catholics.
“It is important to understand the Document for the Continental Stage, not as a document to be amended, corrected or enlarged in view of the universal stage, but as a true guide for an ongoing discernment, fruit of listening to the People of God,” explains the website of the Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod.
Each continental assembly will draft a final document which must be submitted to the General Secretariat by March 31, 2023, and “will have to be the fruit of an authentically synodal path, respectful of the synodal process actually carried out, thus reflecting the voice of the People of God within the Continent.”
What's Starting Seven? Here's what you're reading, and how to get must-read morning news in your inbox, each day.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇧🇭 Families of death row prisoners have asked Pope Francis to denounce capital punishment during this week’s trip to Bahrain (Bishop Paul Hinder, Cardinal Pietro Parolin).
🇻🇦 The pope’s prayer intention for November is “for children who suffer” (infographic, video).
🇿🇦 South African church leaders have said that the country is mired in a “political quagmire.”
🏴 Jesuit Refugee Service UK has described a petrol bomb attack on an asylum processing center in the English town of Dover as “truly horrifying.”
🇮🇹 The cause of a Salesian priest who died in 2012 has taken a step forward (Italian report).
🇲🇽 CELAM has presented the pope with an extensive document inspired by the first Ecclesial Assembly of Latin America and the Caribbean in Mexico City (Spanish report).
🇮🇩 The pope has appointed the first local bishop in the history of the Catholic Church in the Indonesian province of Papua.
📅 Coming soon
Nov. 2 All Souls; Pope Francis celebrates Mass in memory of the cardinals and bishops deceased during the year.
Nov. 3 The pope begins his visit to Bahrain; French bishops’ plenary assembly starts in Lourdes.
Nov. 5 Beatification of Italian sister Maria Carola Cecchin in Kenya.
Nov. 6 International Day of Prayer for persecuted Christians.
Nov. 7 Start of Dutch bishops’ ad limina visit; 80th birthday of Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop emeritus of Paris.
Nov. 8 U.S. midterm elections.
Have a joyful All Saints’ Day.