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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 feast:  Our Lady of Aparecida.

📜 Today’s readings:  Gal 5:18-25  ▪  Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 & 6 ▪  Lk 11:42-46.

🗞  Starting seven

1:  At today’s general audience, Pope Francis said that “in these days my heart is always with the Ukrainian people, especially the inhabitants of those places where the bombardments have been raging” (report, full text, full video, photos).

2: The pope urged Catholics to resist “the temptation of polarization” at a Mass marking the 60th anniversary of the start of Vatican II (full text, full video, photos).

3: The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to rule on whether the term “person” applies to unborn children.

4: Parisian authorities have approved the classification of Sacré-Cœur as a historic monument (French report).

5: Solène Tadié reports on a French association fighting the removal of Catholic imagery from public spaces.

6: Polish Bishop Damian Muskus has auctioned his episcopal ring online to pay for the treatment of a seriously ill child.

7:  And the son of a candidate for beatification will be ordained a bishop on Nov. 26.

🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino

-- General audience.

🧐  Look closer

Pivot to Asia  Catholic bishops have gathered in Thailand for an event marking the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences (FABC). Over the past half-century, Asian Catholics have played an increasingly prominent role in the worldwide Church.

The voluntary association of bishops’ conferences traces its origins back to 1970, when 180 Asian bishops met in Manila during Paul VI’s visit to the Philippines. The pope supported the bishops’ desire to form an association strengthening collegiality after Vatican II. He approved the FABC’s statutes in 1972. The 50th-anniversary celebration was originally planned for 2020 but postponed due to the coronavirus crisis.

The FABC — which has members in most Asian countries except China — says it aims to foster “solidarity and co-responsibility for the welfare of Church and society in Asia.” Its decisions are not binding, but bishops’ conferences may choose to accept them as “an expression of collegial responsibility.”

More than 150 bishops from 29 countries are attending the 50th anniversary meeting, which was scheduled to open on Oct. 12 with a Mass celebrated by the FABC’s president Cardinal Charles Maung Bo. The gathering’s closing Mass, on Oct. 30, is due to be offered by Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle.

Pope Francis has said he hopes the FABC event will “renew the Churches in Asia in fraternal communion and in missionary zeal for the spread of the Gospel among the richly diverse peoples, cultures and social realities of the vast Asian continent.”

The Church’s future?  The meeting coincides with growing recognition of the Asian Church at the Vatican. In June 2021, Pope Francis named the now Cardinal Lazarus You Heung-sik as prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy. He became the second leading Asian figure in the Roman curia after Cardinal Tagle. The Filipino cardinal said in 2015 that the pope had told him that “the future of the Church is in Asia.”

According to recent statistics, Asian Catholicism continues to grow. While Catholics accounted for just 3.31% of the continent’s total population of 4.5 billion, there were an estimated 149 million Asian Catholics in 2019. For comparison, Brazil — the country with the largest Catholic population — has an estimated 123 million Catholics.

The Philippines has the third-largest number of Catholics — around 70 million — behind Brazil and Mexico, while India has approximately 17 million.

‘A-list’ cardinals  Catholic commentators frequently discuss the possibility that the next pope will be Asian. Vatican-watcher John Allen wrote recently that “there are several Asian cardinals who’d probably be on the ‘A lists’ of many papal handicappers,” including Tagle, Bo, and Sri Lankan Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith.

But regardless of whether the 267th pope will be Asian, the continent’s Catholics are likely to contribute significantly to the 21st-century Church’s approach to interfaith dialogue, religious freedom, and mission.

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🔍 Stories to watch

🇺🇸  Michigan’s bishops have told voters that there is “an immense threat to the dignity of human life on this November’s ballot.”

🇺🇦  The Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations (UCCRO) has condemned a wave of Russian attacks on the country’s cities.

🇷🇺  Patriarch Kirill is “back to his routine” after testing negative for COVID-19, a Russian Orthodox Church spokesman has said.

🇳🇴  Norway’s Council of Catholic Bishops has warned the government that a proposed “conversion therapy” ban would “legitimate totalitarian intervention on the part of the state.”

🇸🇰  Archbishop Bernard Bober of Košice, 71, has been elected to a four-year term as president of the Conference of Slovak Bishops, succeeding Archbishop Stanislav Zvolenský (Slovakian report).

🇫🇯  Archbishop Peter Loy Chong has said that “there are new colonial forces moving into Fiji.”

🇧🇷  Vandals have destroyed 28 saints’ statues at a church in Brazil.

📅  Coming soon

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 Our Lady of Aparecida.

-- Luke

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