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Starting Seven: December 9, 2022

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. Juan Diego.

📜 Today’s readings:  Is 48:17-19  ▪  Ps 1:1-2, 3, 4 & 6  ▪  Mt 11:16-19.


🗞  Starting seven

1:  Pope Francis wept yesterday while asking for Mary’s intercession to end the war in Ukraine (video, full text).

2:  Jesuit Superior General Fr. Arturo Sosa has insisted that the order has “not hidden anything” regarding the Fr. Marko Ivan Rupnik scandal (Portuguese interview, English translation, Almudena Martínez-Bordiú, MessainLatino.it, Pauline Books & Media, Iacopo Scaramuzzi).

3:  Paris Archbishop Laurent Ulrich has said that the Catechism’s reference to “intrinsically disordered” acts “reflected an era” and “30 years later, we must undoubtedly return to it with greater respect” (French interview, extracts).

4:  Caritas Internationalis’ Maria Amparo Alonso Escobar has insisted that the pope’s recent intervention was not an “act of denunciation, but of love” (Spanish interview).

5: The BBC has named Sr. Nathalie Becquart among the “100 inspiring and influential women” of 2022.

6:  Joan Frawley Desmond profiles the convert from Mormonism whose cause has been boosted by the U.S. bishops.

7:  And Menin Rodrigues explains how a replica of St. Francis Xavier’s incorrupt body came to be housed in Pakistan’s Monument to Christ the King.


🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino


🧐  Look closer

Waltzing to Rome  First, it was the Dutch (Nov. 7-13). Then, it was the Germans (Nov. 14-18) and Belgians (Nov. 21-25). Now, it is the Austrian bishops’ turn to make their ad limina visit to Rome.

They will meet with Vatican officials and the pope during the Dec. 12-16 trip, their first collective outing to the Eternal City since 2014.

Missing numbers  Unlike the Germans and Belgians, the Austrian bishops aren’t arriving in Rome with a headline-grabbing issue (the synodal way in Germany’s case and same-sex blessings in Belgium’s.) But they still have weighty matters to discuss with Pope Francis and the Roman Curia.

Among them will be secularization, noted Paul Wuthe, editor-in-chief of the Austrian Catholic news agency Kathpress.

  • “While 5.27 million people in Austria still professed their faith in the Catholic Church at the last ad limina visit in 2014, the number had fallen to 4.83 million by 2021,” he wrote.

He added that Austrian bishops’ conference president Archbishop Franz Lackner had repeatedly said that the country’s national synod synthesis — which noted widespread calls for “women’s ordination (at least in the form of the diaconate)” — would also be a focus of discussions in Rome.

The last dance  The trip may have special poignancy for Austria’s most prominent Catholic leader: Cardinal Christoph Schönborn. The Dominican theologian who helped draft the Catechism of the Catholic Church is likely to be undertaking his last ad limina visit as Archbishop of Vienna.

The cardinal, who is making his fifth ad limina trip and has governed the Vienna archdiocese for 27 years, will turn 78 in January, well past the customary retirement age for diocesan bishops. He tendered his resignation before his 75th birthday, but Pope Francis declined it and asked him to remain in place for “an indefinite period.”

The bishops’ visit could give the pope a chance to assess potential candidates to succeed the cardinal in Vienna.


🤔 Friday quiz

Cardinal Wilton Gregory celebrated his 75th birthday this week. Can you arrange the following U.S. cardinals in order of age, starting with the youngest? (Answer below).

  • Cardinal Raymond Burke
  • Cardinal Seán O’Malley
  • Cardinal Blase Cupich
  • Cardinal Joseph Tobin
  • Cardinal Daniel DiNardo
  • Cardinal Timothy Dolan
  • Cardinal Kevin Farrell

🔍 Stories to watch

🇺🇸  Abuse survivors have filed a request for the publication of a report by Maryland’s attorney general on the Baltimore archdiocese.

🇨🇦  Two more bishops have been named in a class action against the Archdiocese of Quebec.

🇵🇹  Portugal’s bishops have expressed “sadness” at a new push to legalize assisted suicide (Portuguese report).

🇳🇬  A Nigerian bishop has questioned why there have been no prosecutions six months after the Pentecost Sunday massacre at a church in Owo, Ondo state.

🇸🇸 Religious leaders have appealed for an end to fighting in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state weeks before Pope Francis is due to visit the country.

🇪🇹  Ethiopian Orthodox Patriarch Abune Mathias has lamented a new upsurge in violence.


📅  Coming soon

Dec. 10  Our Lady of Loreto; Slovakia’s President Zuzana Čaputová due to meet Pope Francis.

Dec. 12  Our Lady of Guadalupe; Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St. Peter’s; 10th anniversary of first papal tweet; Austria’s bishops begin ad limina visit.

Dec. 14 Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Peter Collins of East Anglia.

Dec. 16  Anniversary of Naples’ preservation from the 1631 eruption of Mount Vesuvius, associated with the liquefaction of St. Januarius’ blood.

Dec. 17  Pope Francis’ 86th birthday.

Dec. 18  FIFA World Cup in Qatar ends.

Dec. 21  Cardinal Matteo Zuppi presides at prayer vigil for peace at the tomb of St. Nicholas in Bari, Italy.

Dec. 22  Cardinal Marcello Semeraro, prefect of the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints, turns 75.

Dec. 24 Pope Francis celebrates the Mass of the Nativity of the Lord at 7:30 p.m. Rome time.

Dec. 25  Pope gives Christmas blessing “urbi et orbi” (to the city and the world) at noon.

Dec. 26  St. Stephen.

Dec. 28  Pope Francis expected to publish apostolic letter marking 400 years since St. Francis de Sales’ death.

Dec. 29  Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga turns 80.

Dec. 30  Feast of the Holy Family.

Dec. 31  Pope presides at Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.


Friday quiz answers: Cardinal Joseph Tobin (70), Cardinal Timothy Dolan (72); Cardinal Daniel DiNardo (73.54); Cardinal Blase Cupich (73.72); Cardinal Raymond Burke (74); Cardinal Kevin Farrell (75); Cardinal Seán O’Malley (78).  Source: Catholic-hierarchy.


Have a happy feast of St. Juan Diego.

-- Luke


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