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. Cecilia.
📜 Today’s readings: Rv 14:14-19 ▪ Ps 96:10, 11-12, 13 ▪ Lk 21:5-11.
🗞 Starting seven
1: Internal Vatican reports said in 2016 that a financial reform group created by Pope Francis was in danger of becoming “a charade.”
2: A Catholic priest has reportedly been kidnapped in Nigeria while leading adoration prayers.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
- Papal audiences for Sigita Maslauskaitė-Mažylienė, Lithuania’s new ambassador to the Holy See; participants in a World Jewish Congress conference (full text); Olga Muñoz.
- Decree appointing Pier Francesco Pinelli as temporary administrator of Caritas Internationalis.
🧐 Look closer
German paradigm shift Germany’s Catholic bishops’ conference announced on Tuesday the adoption of a new version of the Church’s labor law. The news came days after the bishops completed their first ad limina visit to Rome since 2015.
Germany’s churches are the country’s second-largest employer after the state. The German branch of Caritas, for example, has more than half a million staff, and the Catholic Church as a whole employs around 800,000 people.
Until now, the German Catholic Church approached employment issues in accordance with a 2015 text called the “Basic Order of Church Service in the Framework of Church Employment Relationships.”
Katholisch.de, the German Church’s official website, described the revisions as a paradigm shift “away from hard demands on private lifestyles and ways of life, and toward valuing diversity.”
Why the change? The German bishops have faced intense pressure to revise the labor law.
Among the texts endorsed by Germany’s “synodal way” is one arguing that the law was “discriminatory with regard to employees who live contrary to the traditional sexual morals of the Church.”
The text called for a change in the law so that it would “in future no longer allow decisions for a legally regulated or non-prohibited form of partnership to be taken as violations of obligations of loyalty and accordingly prevent employment in church service or bring about the termination of an existing employment relationship.”
A well-publicized campaign called Out in Church appealed for an end to the “discriminatory” labor law.
- “Up to now, many of us could not live openly with our gender identity and/or sexual orientation in our Church profession or environment. Labor law entails a threat of consequences, up to and including the destruction of our professional existence,” Out in Church’s manifesto said.
What’s next Katholisch.de explained that in future, Catholic employees would no longer face the threat of dismissal for entering into a second civil marriage or same-sex relationship.
- “‘Diversity in Church institutions is an enrichment,’ the legal text now emphasizes. Accordingly, employees may not be discriminated against on the basis of origin, gender, religion, disability, age, sexual identity, and lifestyle,” it said. “Compared to the previous draft, the term ‘sexual identity’ now replaces ‘sexual orientation.’”
CNA Deutsch noted that “the only requirement for all employees is ‘a positive basic attitude and openness towards the Gospel message and a willingness to respect the institution’s Christian character and contribute to bringing it to bear in their own area of responsibility.’”
The new text will go into effect when individual bishops declare that it is the law in their dioceses.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇲🇹 A draft law permitting abortion if a mother’s life is at risk or her health is in “grave jeopardy” has had its first reading in Malta’s parliament.
🇲🇱 A German Catholic priest has been reported missing in Mali.
🇨🇮 Ivory Coast’s bishops have appealed for a crackdown on illegal mining.
🇻🇳 Vietnam’s Hanoi archdiocese is holding a five-day synod exploring ways to improve Catholic formation.
📅 Coming soon
Nov. 23 Msgr. Alberto Perlasca faces three days of questioning in Vatican finance trial.
Nov. 27 First Sunday of Advent.
Nov. 30 Feast of St. Andrew.
Dec. 3 Vatican Christmas tree and Nativity scene unveiled.
Dec. 4 First anniversary of Hong Kong Bishop Stephen Chow’s episcopal ordination.
Dec. 5 “Fruits of the Spirit” exhibit launched at London’s National Gallery.
Dec. 7 Cardinal Wilton Gregory of Washington turns 75.
Have a happy feast of St. Cecilia.
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