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Welcome to Starting Seven, 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:  St. Lawrence O’Toole.

📜 Today’s readings:  Rv 1:1-4; 2:1-5  ▪  Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 & 6  ▪  Lk 18:35-43.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  The U.S. bishops’ fall general assembly begins today in Baltimore (Massimo Faggioli, JD Flynn, Brian Fraga, Francis X. Rocca, Katie Yoder).

2:  Archbishop Eamon Martin has told graduates of St. Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth, that there is “a crying need for atonement, inner healing and hope” following abuse scandals (full text).

3:  A 30-year-old man was arrested after attacking the driver of Kraków Auxiliary Bishop Robert Chrząszcz with a knife (Polish report).

4:  Members of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Russia called for prayers for peace at their plenary meeting in St. Petersburg.

5:  Catholics and Methodists are celebrating “55 years of nonstop dialogue.”

6: Ross Douthat reflects on “what the pro-life movement won for itself” in the U.S. midterm elections.

7:  And German Bishop Franz-Josef Bode has said that medical cannabis oil helped him cope with pain following back operations (German report).

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🔄  Weekend round-up

On Saturday, Nov. 12, Pope Francis met with Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama of Raleigh, North Carolina, appointed a new nuncio to Jamaica, and addressed Catholic teachers and members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Communication (Italian text).

On Sunday, Nov. 13, the pope celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica marking the World Day of the Poor, recited the Angelus, and had lunch with more than 1,300 poor people from Rome.

🧐  Look closer

The Rhine meets the Tiber  Bishop Georg Bätzing underlined the need for unity and renewal at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica on Monday as Germany’s bishops began their ad limina visit.

  • “Preserving unity while enabling conversion and renewal is truly not an easy task for our Church today,” the chairman of Germany’s Catholic bishops’ conference said.

Speaking in Limburg on the eve of the bishops’ Nov. 14-20 trip to Rome, Bätzing stressed that there were high expectations and an unprecedented degree of public interest in the visit.

Synodal showdown?  There’s no secret about the visit’s central topic: the “synodal way,” the multi-year initiative bringing together Germany’s bishops and selected lay people to discuss four topics: power, the priesthood, women in the Church, and sexuality.

The Vatican has intervened repeatedly in the process, which seeks sweeping changes to Church structures, teachings, and practices. Pope Francis appeared to criticize the initiative during recent inflight press conferences, while Vatican Cardinal Kurt Koch canceled a trip to Germany after a backlash over his comments about the synodal way.  

The interventions have caused frustration among synodal way supporters, who insist that the process is the only possible response to an abuse crisis that has demoralized the German Church and prompted an exodus of Catholics.

Bätzing suggested on Saturday that there was “a lot of incomprehension” in Rome about the synodal way and said he was “very grateful that we really have a lot of time to talk about this with each other.”

Smoothing the way?  The German bishops will visit Vatican dicasteries over the coming days before gathering together for a meeting with the pope and dicastery heads.

Anne Preckel of Radio Vatikan said that the German bishops had prepared thoroughly. Bätzing visited Rome last month to pave the way for the ad limina meetings.

  • “This suggests that the Vatican is also concerned with conducting this conversation well,” she said. “There is a need for clarification, but all those involved are prepared and already have an initial common basis with which to go into the meetings. The fact that the German bishops have a lot of time in Rome is certainly a great opportunity.”

Bishop Bertram Meier of Augsburg, who served in the Secretariat of State, said he believed “that no one in Rome is interested in hard confrontation.”

  • “I know from my time at the Vatican that the experience of Martin Luther runs deep south of the Alps,” he commented. “We should not treat the memory of the Reformation as a trauma. But there is a need for explanation. We bishops have a kind of debt to discharge. The art will be to link the synodal path we are taking in Germany into the synodal processes of the universal Church.”

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🔍 Stories to watch

🇻🇪 Vatican Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra has met with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro (Italian report, Spanish report).

🇳🇮  Detained Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez is “in good health,” Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes has said (French report).

🇧🇾  The apostolic nunciature in Minsk has held a reception marking 30 years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between Belarus and the Holy See (Belarusian report).

🇮🇳  Cardinal Filipe Neri Ferrão has been re-elected as president of the Latin Conference of Catholic Bishops of India (CCBI).

🇬🇭  The Ghana Catholic Bishops’ Conference (GCBC) has said that economic hardships are “becoming unbearable for Ghanaians.”

🇨🇩  Bishops have called for a march for peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

🇲🇿  Mozambique’s bishops said that “no peace can ever survive in the face of exclusion and social injustices” in a statement at the end of their plenary assembly.

📅  Coming soon

Nov. 15  Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith turns 75; Press conference presenting the international study conference “Euntes in mundum universum” at Rome’s Pontifical Urban University on Nov. 16-18.

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. 17  Cardinal Pietro Parolin celebrates a Mass for peace at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Nov. 18 Italian bishops due to release abuse report.

Nov. 19 Pope Francis begins two-day visit to Asti, Italy.

Nov. 20 Feast of Christ the King; World Youth Day 2022 (in dioceses); Beatification of Fr. Giuseppe Ambrosoli in Gulu, Uganda; Cameroon’s Archdiocese of Bamenda launches Year of the Eucharist; FIFA World Cup begins in Qatar.

Nov. 21  Belgium’s bishops start ad limina visit.

Nov. 22  St. Peter’s Basilica hosts discussion on Petrine primacy.

Nov. 23  Msgr. Alberto Perlasca faces three days of questioning in Vatican finance trial.

Nov. 27  First Sunday of Advent.

Have a happy feast of St. Lawrence O’Toole.

-- Luke

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