Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s new 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. Martin of Tours.
📜 Today’s readings: 2 Jn 4-9 ▪ Ps 119:1, 2, 10, 11, 17, 18 ▪ Lk 17:26-37.
🗞 Starting seven
1: Pope Francis and Fr. James Martin, S.J., discussed “the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties, of LGBTQ Catholics” during a 45-minute private audience this morning.
3: Ireland’s Jesuits have paid 7.4 million euros in settlement costs to abuse survivors.
6: George Weigel argues that “the present pontificate has diverged from the Council’s teaching in several ways.”
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Appointment of Fr. Donatien Francis Randriamalala, M.S., as bishop of Ambanja, Madagascar.
Papal audiences for Fr. James Martin, S.J., and the Dutch bishops on their ad limina visit.
🧐 Look closer
The next encyclical Cardinal Wim Eijk reportedly asked for a papal encyclical on gender theory during the Dutch bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome this week.
The Dutch weekly Katholiek Nieuwsblad said that the request to Pope Francis was submitted officially to Cardinal Kevin Farrell, prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, and Life, when the Dutch bishops visited the curial department.
Eijk, a bioethics expert, said at a press conference in Rome on Wednesday night: “Gender theory is being pushed in all kinds of organizations and we as a Church have not said that much about it.”
Joy of life But gender theory is not the only topic proposed for Francis’ next encyclical, regarded as the most authoritative form of papal writing.
In an interview with England’s Tablet magazine this week, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia discussed the prospect of a future encyclical on life issues, first proposed in July by the influential Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica. The article — by Fr. Jorge José Ferrer, S.J., a member of the International Theological Commission (ITC) — even suggested a title: Gaudium vitae (“The Joy of Life”).
Paglia, the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, said that the question of whether such an encyclical will appear should “be put to the Holy Father, more than to me.”
“I believe that the day will come when Pope Francis or the next pope [will do so],” he said.
Papal writer’s block? Pope Francis has published three encyclicals since his election nine years ago: Lumen fidei (prepared by his predecessor Benedict XVI and released in 2013), Laudato si’ (2015), and Fratelli tutti (2020).
In purely mathematical terms, this is a rate of one encyclical every three years, which suggests that the next one could be expected around 2023. Pope Francis doesn’t work to theoretical deadlines, of course, but the upsurge in discussion of a next encyclical suggests it is occupying minds in Rome.
There is no guarantee that the 85-year-old pope will write another encyclical. The demands of the 21st-century papacy seem to make it difficult to create them. Benedict XVI wrote a modest three encyclicals in his eight-year pontificate. The 19th-century Pope Leo XIII produced 90 during his admittedly long pontificate, while the 20th-century popes Pius XI and Pius XII cranked out 34 and 42 respectively.
🤔 Friday quiz
Which of the following people converted to Catholicism? (Answers below):
Cardinal Francis Arinze
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 Bishops in states where abortion measures passed this week have said they will keep up the struggle to end the practice.
🇲🇲 Myanmar’s military has reportedly destroyed a church and a school in an airstrike in Karen State.
🇦🇹 Austria’s bishops said at the end of their fall plenary meeting that the working document for the continental stage of the Synodal Process (now available in German and Polish) marks “a further decisive step forward” (German full text).
🇳🇬 A Nigerian bishop has criticized a boom in “so-called private or personal ‘healing ministries’ and ‘adoration ministries’” in the Catholic Church.
📅 Coming soon
Nov. 12 First anniversary of Fra’ Matthew Festing’s death.
Nov. 16 Aid to the Church in Need launches “Persecuted and Forgotten? A Report on Christians oppressed for their Faith 2020-22” at the start of Red Week.
Nov. 18 Italian bishops due to release abuse report.
Nov. 21 Belgium’s bishops begin ad limina visit.
Have a happy feast of St. Martin of Tours.
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