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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. Elizabeth of Hungary.

📜 Today’s readings:  Rv 5:1-10  ▪  Ps 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A & 9B  ▪  Lk 19:41-44.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  The U.S. bishops have voted overwhelmingly to re-examine their “Faithful Citizenship” voter guide after the 2024 presidential election.

2:  The Italian bishops’ conference has released its first national report on safeguarding in the country’s dioceses (Italian summary, full text).

3:  Msgr. Ivan Brient, who was named an auxiliary bishop of Rennes, France, on Oct. 7, has announced that he won’t take up the post for health reasons (French report, full text).

4:  Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan has said that the difficulty of Hong Kong’s national security law “lies in not knowing where the red line is.”

5:  Pope Francis is expected to publish an apostolic letter on Dec. 28 marking the 400th anniversary of St. Francis de Sales’ death.

6:  George Weigel suggests that the global Synodal Process is treating bishops as “note-takers, not teachers.”

7:  And Matthew Neugebauer asks if a Vatican soccer team could ever compete in the World Cup.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

🧐  Look closer

Crunch time  Germany’s bishops are in Rome this week for their first ad limina visit since 2015. The intensively prepared trip began on Monday with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica and continued with meetings with curial officials, building up to a keenly awaited encounter with Pope Francis and heads of Vatican dicasteries on Friday.

The meetings are taking place amid deep disagreements between the Vatican and German Church leaders over the country’s “synodal way,” a multi-year project bringing together German bishops and select lay people to discuss hot-button issues amid a devastating abuse crisis.

What do we know about how the ad limina trip is going so far?

Different approaches  On Monday, German bishops reportedly met with Vatican doctrinal chief Cardinal Luis Ladaria Ferrer. The Catholic news website said that the bishops “debated with the prefect … how the proposals of the synodal way are to be understood theologically and dogmatically.”

The German Church’s official website noted that on Tuesday, the bishops met with Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy.

  • “For this meeting, Bishop Michael Gerber of Fulda had announced that he would present at the Vatican the decisions of the synodal way on the admission of homosexuals to the priesthood,” the website reported.

In September, the majority of synodal way participants (including bishops) endorsed a text calling for “a re-evaluation of homosexuality in the Magisterium,” which said that “no person should be prevented from taking up church offices and becoming ordained as a priest … because of having a homosexual orientation.”

A 2005 Vatican Instruction said that a candidate who “practices homosexuality or presents deep-seated homosexual tendencies” should be dissuaded from seeking ordination. reported that the bishops had an almost 90-minute meeting on Wednesday with Cardinal Mario Grech, the official overseeing the global Synodal Process.

  • “According to participants, the talks with the synod secretariat in Rome … were primarily about exchanging views on the respective synodal experiences and perspectives. In the process, the different approaches of the German and the international Synodal Process became clear,” the website reported. said that after the meeting, German bishops planned to visit the Dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity, led by Cardinal Kurt Koch. The Swiss cardinal provoked outrage among German bishops in September when he referred to the Nazi era while criticizing the synodal way and canceled a trip to Germany amid the fallout.

What’s next?  All eyes will be on the German bishops’ Friday meeting with the pope and curial heads, which conference chairman Bishop Georg Bätzing has said will feature “an intensive look at the synodal way.” Both sides see the gathering as a unique opportunity to address tensions face to face. In the evening, German bishops will celebrate Mass at the Archbasilica of St. John Lateran, the seat of the Bishop of Rome.

On Saturday morning, Bishop Bätzing will preside at a press conference, where he will offer his take on the five-day visit. The Vatican is unlikely to offer a similar immediate public evaluation of the talks, so the full picture may take a while to emerge.

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

🇺🇸  Splits have appeared among U.S. religious leaders over a bill that would enshrine same-sex marriage into federal law.

🇨🇺  Carmelite nuns are resuming production of hosts for Cuban dioceses following a wheat flour shortage (Spanish report).

🇲🇹  The Archdiocese of Malta is objecting to the construction of an apartment block that would tower over a neighboring chapel.

🇻🇦  The beatification cause of Dom Hélder Câmara is reportedly advancing in Rome (Portuguese report).

🇪🇺  EU Catholic bishops have urged “all parties to vigorously work towards de-escalation” in Ukraine (full text).

🇵🇱  The proportion of high school students attending catechism classes in the Polish capital Warsaw has fallen to 29%.

🇵🇭  The fertility rate in the Philippines, the country with the world’s third-largest Catholic population, has fallen below replacement level.

📅  Coming soon

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.

Nov. 28  Oceania’s bishops hold online conference in preparation for their 2023 general assembly.

Have a happy feast of  St. Elizabeth of Hungary.

-- Luke

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