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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 morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.

📜 Today’s readings:  Gal 5:1-6  ▪  Ps 119:41, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48 ▪  Lk 11:37-41.

😇 Today’s saint:  St. John XXIII.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  Pope Francis will celebrate a Mass at 5 p.m. Rome time today marking the 60th anniversary of the start of Vatican II (booklet, follow live).

2: Seattle Archbishop Paul D. Etienne has expressed “grave concern” at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s threats to use nuclear weapons (full text).

3: Poland’s bishops have said that “keeping God’s law can be difficult, but it is never impossible” in a pastoral letter on John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (Polish text).

4: Bishop Georg Bätzing, Fr. Patrick Briscoe, Larry Chapp, Rory Fox, Matthew Levering, Sandro Magister, Alberto Melloni, Michael J. Miller, Russell Shaw, Peter M.J. Stravinskas, and George Weigel mark Vatican II’s 60th anniversary.

5: Jean-Marie Guénois notes that Vatican departments are launching their own communication services, bypassing the Holy See press office (French text).

6: Carson Holloway argues that America “still needs a national pro-life movement.”

7: And archeologists have uncovered the remains of 240 people in the ruins of a Dominican priory under a department store in Wales.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

Resignation of 74-year-old Archbishop Ivan Devčić of Rijeka, Croatia, accepted, succeeded by Coadjutor Archbishop Mate Uzinić.

Resignation of 78-year-old Bishop Alan Hopes of East Anglia, England, accepted, succeeded by Canon Peter Collins.

🧐  Look closer

Lazzeri leaves Lugano  Pope Francis accepted Monday the resignation of Swiss Bishop Valerio Lazzeri. The Holy See press office’s one-line announcement offered no reason for the 59-year-old’s departure from the helm of the Diocese of Lugano.

Who is Bishop Lazzeri? Valerio Lazzeri was born in 1963 in the village of Dongio in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, where Italian is the official language. After his ordination in 1989, he served as a theology professor. In 2009, he spent a year at the ecumenical Bose Monastic Community in Italy. In 2013, Pope Francis named Lazzeri as bishop of Lugano, which was erected in 1971 and covers the canton of Ticino, serving around 248,000 Catholics.

Why did he resign? Speaking at a press conference on Oct. 10, Lazzeri said that he had been overwhelmed by an “inner fatigue,” especially in the past two years.

  • “Over the years, the public aspects of representation, institutional governance, and financial and administrative management, which have always been far removed from anything that natural inclinations and ministry had previously led me to cultivate, have become untenable for me, despite the presence of good and competent collaborators, to whom all my gratitude goes as of now,” he said.

What’s the local context?  The Swiss Catholic Church website, which reported the bishop’s resignation before it was officially announced, noted that the Lugano diocese had been rocked by scandals involving priests. One cleric was accused of fraud and another of sexual assault and driving under the influence.

  • Asked about the scandals at the press conference, Lazzeri said: “Those who know me know that I am not indifferent to anything that happens, especially in the context of the Church entrusted to me.”

But the bishop underlined that there was not a simple cause-and-effect relationship between the incidents and his resignation, reported the local newspaper Corriere del Ticino.

The Swiss bishops’ conference expressed “regret” at Lazzeri’s resignation, but thanked him for his nine years of episcopal service.

What’s the wider context? The Church is finding it increasingly hard to recruit — and in a few cases, retain — bishops. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, said in 2019 that around 30% of priests declined the request to lead dioceses, adding that the proportion had tripled in a decade.

Lazzeri is not the only bishop to struggle in recent years with the financial, administrative, and disciplinary aspects of episcopal leadership. But presumably the Vatican would be reluctant to allow more bishops to follow Lazzeri’s path into early retirement given the difficulty of finding suitable candidates.

What’s next  Lugano diocese will be overseen by an apostolic administrator, the Barcelona-born Bishop Alain de Raemy, until the appointment of its next bishop. Meanwhile, Lazzeri hopes to devote time to “reflection, prayer, discernment,” and his studies.

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

🇺🇸  Missouri’s bishops have urged voters to oppose an amendment that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana (full text).

🇻🇦  Pope Francis has written the preface to a book of interviews with sporting champions (Italian text).

🇵🇭  The head of the Philippines bishops’ conference has said it is “too soon to judge” the country’s President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

🇧🇩  A Catholic politician in Bangladesh has died 10 days after being beaten by attackers.

🇦🇺  Vandals have badly damaged a historic cathedral in Goulburn, New South Wales.

🇲🇿  A Catholic bishop has described a “gruesome attack” on Christians in northern Mozambique.

📅  Coming soon

Oct. 12  The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences’ General Conference begins in Thailand; Feast of Bl. Carlo Acutis.

Oct. 15  First anniversary of the murder of Sir David Amess; 100th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Luigi Giussani.

Oct. 18  Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi turns 80.

Oct. 19  Anniversary of Bl. Jerzy Popiełuszko’s death.

Oct. 20  Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Europe (CCEE) youth symposium begins in Kraków, Poland.

Oct. 25  Pope Francis attends prayer for peace, organized by the Sant’Egidio Community, at the Colosseum.

Oct. 26  Trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen due to resume.

Have a blessed feast of St. John XIII

-- Luke

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