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. Andrew Dũng-Lạc and Companions.
📜 Today’s readings: Rv 18:1-2, 21-23; 19:1-3, 9A ▪ Ps 100:1B-2, 3, 4, 5 ▪ Lk 21:20-28. (Thanksgiving Day readings: Sir 50:22-24 ▪ Ps 145:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, 10-11 ▪ 1 Cor 1:3-9 ▪ Lk 17:11-19.)
🗞 Starting seven
1: A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation will be conducted in the U.S. Diocese of Knoxville next week.
2: Cardinal Angelo Becciu has been ordered to pay thousands in damages and court costs after a judge dismissed his lawsuit against the Italian magazine L’Espresso.
3: Architect Luciano Capaldo was questioned about the Vatican’s London property deal during a finance trial hearing on Wednesday (Italian Vatican News, ANSA).
4: Prosecutors are reportedly investigating Cologne’s Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki over a second affidavit related to an abuse case (German report).
5: Solène Tadié asks if France will enshrine a “right” to abortion in its constitution.
6: John Cavadini, Mary Healy, and Fr. Thomas Weinandy urge bishops and pastors to “encourage the return of those who have been attending the Tridentine liturgy” (installments 1, 2, 3, & 4).
7: And a priest has said that he “started to cry” when he saw the restored St. Peter and Paul’s Old Cathedral in Goulburn, New South Wales, for the first time.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Papal audiences for Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS); Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, apostolic nuncio to Mexico; Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, Italy; Manuel Roberto López, El Salvador’s outgoing ambassador to the Holy See; Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization; Members of the International Theological Commission (Italian full text).
🧐 Look closer
A way forward? Germany’s Catholics are continuing to digest the bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome. The Nov. 14-18 trip ended with a meeting in which senior Vatican officials proposed a moratorium on the country’s “synodal way,” which was rejected by a majority of the German bishops.
Did the trip mark a step forward for the controversial initiative or a grave setback? There is a wide spectrum of opinions.
No ‘stop sign’ Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen said on Wednesday that although Vatican officials signaled that certain topics were “non-negotiable,” they did not hold up a “stop sign.”
Giving the example of women’s ordination, he said: “Everything that cannot be decided locally by the Church is formulated in the form of a request for consideration by the Apostolic See. A request cannot be forbidden. One can freely deal with it, that is, either refuse it or comply with it.”
But Bishop Stefan Oster of Passau, a member of the German episcopate’s conservative minority, said he detected “no concessions at any point” during the ad limina trip.
“Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin, as the meeting’s moderator, emphasized that these Roman interventions should be taken into account in the further course of the synodal way,” he wrote. “These proposals ultimately prevented a moratorium on the synodal way, which had also been proposed, so that it can continue, taking into account the input offered.”
Trapped bishops Irme Stetter-Karp, the synodal way’s co-president, accused Vatican officials of snubbing bishops and laity who favor sweeping changes.
“I am grateful to the German bishops for preventing a moratorium on the synodal way in Germany,” she said. “Obviously, an immediate interruption of the reform dialogue and the synodal deliberations and decisions in our country was an urgent wish of certain cardinals in Rome. This shows me how important it will be that we clearly bring our agenda to the global synod.”
Theologian Hans-Joachim Sander said that if the moratorium had been accepted, authorities would have struggled to cope with a surge in formal requests to leave the Church. “This was apparently also clear to the Roman stakeholders, which is probably why they relented,” he suggested.
The German Catholic initiative New Beginning, which opposes the synodal way, said that by raising expectations that were impossible to meet, the bishops had “maneuvered themselves into a trap.”
It said: “The decisive factor will be: Do the German bishops and their chairman [Bishop Georg Bätzing] dare to make the change, which includes reflection on the Gospel and the faith of the Church, and do they rediscover it in its viability, especially today? Or do they allow themselves to be further radicalized by that wing which seeks its own salvation, but also that of the Church, in a radical adaptation to contemporary culture?”
What’s next? The synodal way is expected to conclude with a fifth plenary assembly in Frankfurt on March 9-11, 2023. But given the disruption to the fourth assembly’s agenda after the bishops’ rejection of a text on sexual ethics, it is unclear whether participants will have time to vote on all the initiative’s remaining documents.
The divided German episcopate is likely to hold its annual spring plenary meeting around the same time.
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
🇺🇸 Catholics have demonstrated outside the U.S. State Department in support of imprisoned Eritrean Bishop Fikremariam Hagos Tsalim.
🇲🇩 Msgr. Cesare Lodeserto, vicar general of the Diocese of Chişinău, has said there is “chaos” in Moldova after Russian strikes in neighboring Ukraine caused power cuts (Italian report).
🇫🇷 A man who set fire to chairs in Saint-Pol-de-Léon Cathedral, northwestern France, has been sentenced to eight months in prison (French report).
🇪🇸 Bishop Francisco César García Magán is the new secretary general of Spain’s bishops’ conference (Spanish report).
🇬🇭 Ghana’s Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr has been discharged from a Rome hospital after undergoing heart surgery.
🇦🇺 Australia’s Northern Territory Parliament has passed amendments to anti-discrimination laws that were strongly criticized by a Catholic bishop.
🇳🇿 Catholic representatives have appeared before New Zealand’s royal commission on abuse in care.
📅 Coming soon
Nov. 25 Verdict in Cardinal Joseph Zen’s trial expected; U.K. Court of Appeal announces decision on Down Syndrome abortion law.
Nov. 27 First Sunday of Advent.
Nov. 30 Feast of St. Andrew.
Dec. 1 Benedict XVI due to receive 2022 Ratzinger Prize winners.
Dec. 3 Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity scene unveiled.
Dec. 4 First anniversary of Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Chow’s episcopal ordination.
Dec. 5 “Fruits of the Spirit” exhibit launched at London’s National Gallery.
Dec. 7 Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington turns 75.
Dec. 8 Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception; Pope Francis’ act of veneration of Mary Immaculate; Worldwide Women’s Rosary.
Have a happy feast of St. Andrew Dũng-Lạc — and a happy Thanksgiving.
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