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 the Rosary.
📜 Today’s readings: Gal 3:7-14 ▪ Ps 111:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6 ▪ Lk 11:15-26.
🗞 Starting seven
A Catholic bishop has said that Thursday’s mass killings at a child-care facility in Thailand reminded him of the Massacre of the Innocents.
Pope Francis has approved the revival of a commission for the 2025 Jubilee Year highlighting the witness of men and women “who, although not canonized, strongly manifested the faith” (Italian text).
Patriarch Kirill has reportedly urged Russian Orthodox Christians to offer “zealous” prayers for Russian President Vladimir Putin on his 70th birthday.
U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Joe Donnelly says he is “hopeful” that the Vatican understands “there is no moral equivalence” between Russia and Ukraine in the current war.
And the archbishop of Kraków has blessed Poland’s fastest supercomputer.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Condolence telegram following the attack on a child-care center in Uthai Sawan, Thailand.
Papal audiences Bishop Marie Fabien Raharilamboniaina, president of the Episcopal Conference of Madagascar; Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio to Great Britain; Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, Permanent Observer to United Nations Office and Specialized Agencies in Geneva; Caritas delegation from Denmark; School chaplains from French-speaking Switzerland.
Appointments of new cardinals as members of Vatican dicasteries. Cardinal Arthur Roche, Cardinal Lazzaro You Heung-sik, Cardinal Jean-Marc Aveline, and Cardinal Oscar Cantoni named members of the Dicastery for Bishops. Cardinal Robert McElroy named a member of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life and Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.
Appointment of Fr. Delfim Jorge Esteves Gomes as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Braga, Portugal.
Appointment of Msgr. Ivan Brient as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Rennes, France.
🧐 Look closer
A German ‘charm offensive’ Senior German Church officials visited Rome this week to prepare the way for the German bishops’ ad limina visit in November. Ludwig Ring-Eifel, editor-in-chief of the Catholic news agency KNA, described the trip as “a kind of charm offensive.”
Bishops’ conference chairman Bishop Georg Bätzing, deputy chairman Franz-Josef Bode, and general secretary Beate Gilles arrived in Rome conscious that they were at a “communicative disadvantage,” wrote Ring-Eifel, as “most German speakers in the Roman Curia are rather critical of the reform ideas” associated with the country’s “synodal way.”
“Against this background, Bätzing and his team called for a more objective debate. Bätzing’s delegation said that the current problems and the solutions proposed by the Germans should first be studied before the debate was stifled with warnings of a renewed division of the Church,” Ring-Eifel noted.
Ad limina innovation Bätzing announced last month that the bishops would use the ad limina visit — their first in seven years — to promote understanding of the synodal way. They will engage in 11 discussions with Vatican dicasteries, with a representative of the German bishops’ conference appointed as a spokesperson for each session.
Bätzing said that the program would include an innovation: “a format in which we German bishops will sit together with the pope and several prefects and will once again take an intensive look at the synodal way.”
Ring-Eifel said that this meeting was expected to take place on Nov. 18. “No one yet knows how a real discussion can emerge from such a format,” he commented. “A milestone would be reached if there were more ‘understanders of Germany’ in Rome afterward.”
PR pushes This is not the first time that synodal way supporters have engaged in a concerted PR push. Shortly before last month’s pivotal meeting in Frankfurt, a glossy 68-page magazine appeared. The synodal way’s co-presidents explained in the introduction that it sought to challenge the idea that the synodal way was “a special German path” at odds with the wider Church.
The magazine’s centerpiece was an interview with Cardinal Mario Grech, in which the secretary general of the Synod of Bishops deplored public criticism of the synodal way by bishops outside Germany.
Asked if he kept up to date with the synodal way’s deliberations, he said: “I try to follow the process. But for me, it is one thing to follow what is published and another thing to follow what actually happens. It is a process. Perhaps the communication in general could have been better and that would have helped a better understanding of what happens in Germany. I have trust in the Catholic Church in Germany, in the bishops, I trust they know what they are doing.”
What’s next The synodal way’s champions have prepared meticulously for the meeting with the pope and curial leaders next month. If they fail to shift Vatican opinion, it will not be for want of trying, but because Rome considers the initiative’s “new ways of governance and new approaches to doctrine and morals” illegitimate, however skillfully presented.
🤔 Friday quiz
Can you identify these religious communities? (Answers below.)
🔍 Stories to watch
🇮🇪 Ireland’s bishops have said they expect the number of homeless people seeking warmth in churches to “rise dramatically” this winter.
🇮🇹 A priest in Italy has been suspended for “holding positions that are not aligned with Church teaching.”
🇫🇷 The French Diocese of Arras will compensate abuse victims with funds raised from the sale of its bishop's house (French report).
🇵🇱 The number of deacons is reportedly “growing rapidly” in Poland.
🏴 Scotland’s bishops have approved the restructuring of the country’s bishops’ conference.
🇳🇪 Missionaries have said they are unable to visit Catholic communities in Niger due to insecurity.
🇻🇳 Vietnam’s bishops have issued a three-year plan promoting synodality.
📅 Coming soon
Oct. 10 Soup kitchen dedicated to Bl. Carlo Acutis inaugurated in Assisi.
Oct. 12 The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences’ General Conference begins in Thailand; Feast of Bl. Carlo Acutis.
Oct. 18 Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi turns 80.
Oct. 19 Trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen due to resume; Anniversary of Bl. Jerzy Popiełuszko’s death.
Friday quiz answers: 1) Franciscan Friars of the Renewal; 2) Congregation of Holy Cross; 3) Missionaries of Charity; 4) Order of Friars Minor Capuchin (Capuchins); 5) Order of Preachers (Dominicans); 6) Society of Jesus (Jesuits); 7) Society of Our Lady of Most Holy Trinity.
Have a blessed feast of Our Lady of the Rosary.