Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s 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 saint: St. Leobinus (Roman Martyrology).
📜 Today’s readings: Dn 3:25, 34-43 ▪ Ps 25:4-5ab, 6 & 7bc, 8-9 ▪ Mt 18:21-35.
🗞 Starting seven
1: Speaking days after a German synodal way vote on same-sex blessings, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that a local Church “cannot make such a decision that involves the discipline of the Universal Church,” but dialogue will continue (Vatican News report).
2: Canada’s Jesuits have released the names of members “credibly accused” of child sexual abuse.
3: A Catholic chaplain is taking legal action against a U.K. hospital trust that terminated his contract after he answered a patient’s questions about Church teaching on marriage.
4: Investigators have concluded that the Polish priest Fr. Franciszek Blachnicki, declared Venerable in 2015, died as a result of poisoning in 1987 (Polish statement, report).
5: Solène Tadié reports that several French bishops have called for the reformulation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church’s section on homosexuality (Cardinal Blase Cupich).
6: Dawn Beutner asks why Cardinal Ignatius Kung hasn’t been canonized.
7: And funeral director Tyler Brown explains why he will be received into the Catholic Church this Easter.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
- Papal message to participants in the 26th Solemn Public Session of the Pontifical Academies (Italian text, Vatican News report).
- Papal letter to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani (Italian text, Vatican News report).
🧐 Look closer
The migration battle The Catholic bishops of England and Wales issued a guide to Catholic teaching on migrants and refugees Tuesday amid a fierce debate over U.K. immigration policy.
The 35-page text “Love the Stranger,” which sets out 24 principles for the humane treatment of migrants, was released hours after the U.K. government’s Illegal Migration Bill passed its second reading in the House of Commons, the lower house of Parliament.
The draft legislation, known informally as the small boats bill, seeks to tackle a sharp rise in migrants crossing the Channel between England and France by boat by preventing them from claiming asylum, detaining them, and removing them from the U.K. The bill would enable officials to send new arrivals to their home country, if it is safe, or third countries including Rwanda, which is 4,000 miles away from the U.K.
The bill’s critics include Catholic, Anglican, and Jewish leaders, the UN refugee agency, and the soccer pundit Gary Lineker, who was suspended by the BBC after tweeting against the bill but reinstated after a presenters’ revolt.
‘Safe and controlled access’ In a foreword to the new publication, Bishop Declan Lang noted that scores of migrants have died trying to cross the Channel.
- “We should not reduce people to statistics or to a political problem to be solved,” the bishop of Clifton wrote. “Nor can we allow recognition of people’s dignity to be dependent upon where they come from or how they reach our shores.”
Bishops’ conference president Cardinal Vincent Nichols said that the document presented “more than 100 years of Catholic teaching to guide our response to migration in England and Wales today.”
- “While it does not propose detailed solutions to complex problems, it clearly calls for procedures which permit safe and controlled access and a fair hearing to those seeking asylum,” he said. “Present arrangements in this country are dramatically lacking in both of these requirements.”
Against the current Almost every country in the Western world is facing a similarly acute debate on immigration policy. Ten years into a pontificate that has prioritized migrant welfare, bishops have been emboldened to speak out, including in countries such as England and Wales where Catholics are a minority and struggle to gain a hearing.
In Europe at least, Church leaders are going against the political tide on migration. Across the continent, ruling parties are making it harder for newcomers to claim asylum, erecting miles of border fences, and toughening their immigration rhetoric in an effort to attract voters.
If current trends continue, by the end of the 21th century, the Church’s stance on migrants may come to be seen as equally countercultural as its teaching on abortion.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 Our Lady of Lourdes in Ledyard, Connecticut, is the 300th U.S. Catholic church to be attacked since 2020, according to CatholicVote.
🇨🇱 The Vatican has asked the Jesuits to launch an administrative penal process against a Chilean priest who denies allegations of abusing women (statement, report).
🇵🇱 A court has acquitted 32 people who interrupted a Mass in a Polish cathedral during nationwide protests in support of abortion.
🇫🇷 Vandals have targeted the Church of the Sacred Heart in Bordeaux, southwestern France, starting a fire and daubing the words “Thank you Satan” (French report).
🇰🇷 Catholic leaders in South Korea have submitted a petition to the country’s National Assembly calling for an end to the death penalty.
🇮🇳 An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) has welcomed the federal government's opposition to recognizing same-sex marriages.
🇿🇼 The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe (CCJPZ) has urged citizens to register to vote in the country’s upcoming general election.
📅 Coming soon
March 19 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ inauguration.
March 22 New president of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Union (COMECE) due to be elected.
March 31 Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Anthony C. Celino at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas; 75th birthday of Newark auxiliary Bishop Gregory J. Studerus.
April 1 75th birthday of Bishop Thomas Tobin of Providence, Rhode Island.
April 2 Pope Francis marks Palm Sunday of the Lord’s Passion with Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m. local time.
April 6 Chrism Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica at 9:30 a.m.
April 7 Celebration of the Passion of the Lord in St. Peter’s Basilica at 5 p.m. local time; Way of the Cross at the Colosseum at 9:15 p.m.
April 8 Easter Vigil in St Peter’s Basilica at 7:30 p.m.
April 9 Easter Sunday Mass in St. Peter’s Square at 10 a.m., followed by the Urbi et Orbi blessing from the central loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica at noon.
April 11 60th anniversary of Pope John XXIII issuing his final encyclical, Pacem in terris.
April 12 Archbishop Robert Francis Prevost, O.S.A., begins work as prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops; Opus Dei’s extraordinary general congress begins.
April 17 Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Chow Sau-yan begins a five-day visit to the Archdiocese of Beijing.
April 18 German Archdiocese of Freiburg’s abuse report due to be released; 75th birthday of Chicago auxiliary Bishop Joseph N. Perry.
April 24 Renewed Council of Cardinals meets at the Casa Santa Marta.
April 26 Czech Cardinal Dominik Duka turns 80.
April 28 Pope Francis begins three-day visit to Hungary; 50th anniversary of Jacques Maritain’s death.
April 29 Priestly ordination of 32 Legionaries of Christ in Rome.
Have a happy feast of St. Leobinus.
Do you know someone who would appreciate reading this newsletter? Invite your friends to sign up here.