Welcome to Starting 7, 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: Sts. Simon and Jude.
📜 Today’s readings: Eph 2:19-22 ▪ Ps 19:2-3, 4-5 ▪ Lk 6:12-16.
🗞 Starting seven
3: The Vatican has responded to handwritten letters from Catholic students in Uvalde, Texas.
4: Ukrainians in Western Europe have made their annual pilgrimage to Lourdes (Ukrainian report).
5: Elise Ann Allen, Peter Anderson, Bishop Daniel E. Flores, Benedict Heider, Austen Ivereigh, Mike Lewis, Archbishop Eamon Martin, and National Catholic Register editors reflect on the Document for the Continental Stage of the synod on synodality.
7: And Joe Bukuras reports on an exorcist’s growing following on TikTok.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
🧐 Look closer
‘Frightening’ vandalism A bishop has condemned vandals who damaged four wayside crucifixes in the parish of Wittichenau in eastern Germany. Bishop Wolfgang Ipolt of Görlitz said he was shocked by what he described as “an attack on the most important sign of Christians.”
“That this is happening in the midst of a Catholic environment is all the more frightening,” he said, referring to Wittichenau’s location in a region with a large number of Catholics belonging to the Sorbian ethnic group.
The attacks are just the latest incidents in a wave of attacks on public expressions of Christianity across Europe.
Incidents were reported last year in historically Catholic countries such as France, Italy, Poland, and Spain, as well as Germany and the United Kingdom. One report, from Germany, recorded that “a statue of the Virgin Mary outside a Catholic church was vandalized when the head was removed.” Another, from Italy, said that “a statue of a saint next to a Catholic church was set on fire, causing damage to the monument.”
It’s not just a European phenomenon: last Sunday, Cardinal Wilton Gregory blessed a statue of Our Lady of Fatima outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C., replacing one that was damaged beyond repair last December.
In June this year, the U.S. bishops’ conference said it had recorded “at least 120 attacks” since May 2020, and “that number steadily continues to grow.”
Warning to vandals Young Catholics in France are working together to protect churches and Christian monuments. Since 2019, the group Protège ton église has organized peaceful evening vigils outside churches, while members of SOS Calvaires are dedicated to restoring wayside crucifixes.
“Some time ago, one of our calvaries was tagged [with graffiti], and we responded by publicly warning vandals that for each calvary destroyed, we would build two calvaries, and it never happened again,” Julien Lepage of SOS Calvaires said last November.
Such initiatives are perhaps not surprising in a country like France, where lay Catholics are known for their activism. But there is little indication that Catholics in other European countries are following their lead.
🤔 Friday quiz
Do you know your stole from your chasuble? Match these liturgical garments with their descriptions. (Answers below.)
1. “A short linen cloth, square or oblong in shape and, like the other sacerdotal vestments, needing to be blessed before use.”
2. An item “used to confine the loose, flowing alb, and prevent it from impeding the movements of the wearer.”
3. “The principal and most conspicuous Mass vestment, covering all the rest.”
4. “A circular band about two inches wide, worn about the neck, breast, and shoulders, and having two pendants, one hanging down in front and one behind.”
5. “A liturgical vestment composed of a strip of material from two to four inches wide and about eighty inches long.”
Possible answers: Pallium, chasuble, stole, cincture, amice.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇨🇦 The number of Catholics in Canada declined by almost 2 million to 10.9 million in the past 10 years, according to new census results.
🇻🇦 Vatican Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle has said he hopes that the Church in Africa emerges from the Synodal Process “with renewed and shared ways on how to address the most pressing challenges on the continent.”
🇧🇪 The 35-year-old Bruno Spriet has become the first layman to serve as secretary-general of the Belgian bishops’ conference, following similar appointments in the Netherlands and Germany (Flemish report, French report).
📅 Coming soon
Nov. 5 Beatification of Italian sister Maria Carola Cecchin in Kenya
Friday quiz answers: 1 Amice, 2) Cincture, 3) Chasuble, 4) Pallium, 5) Stole. Source: Catholic Encyclopaedia.
Have a happy feast of Sts. Simon and Jude.