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. Andrew Dũng-Lạc and Companions.
🗞 Starting seven
5: Solène Tadié asks if France will enshrine a “right” to abortion in its constitution.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
- Papal audiences for Luis Almagro, secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS); Archbishop Joseph Spiteri, apostolic nuncio to Mexico; Cardinal Giuseppe Petrocchi of L’Aquila, Italy; Manuel Roberto López, El Salvador’s outgoing ambassador to the Holy See; Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, secretary of the Dicastery for Evangelization; Members of the International Theological Commission (Italian full text).
🧐 Look closer
A way forward? Germany’s Catholics are continuing to digest the bishops’ ad limina visit to Rome. The Nov. 14-18 trip ended with a meeting in which senior Vatican officials proposed a moratorium on the country’s “synodal way,” which was rejected by a majority of the German bishops.
Did the trip mark a step forward for the controversial initiative or a grave setback? There is a wide spectrum of opinions.
- Giving the example of women’s ordination, he said: “Everything that cannot be decided locally by the Church is formulated in the form of a request for consideration by the Apostolic See. A request cannot be forbidden. One can freely deal with it, that is, either refuse it or comply with it.”
- “Cardinal Secretary of State Parolin, as the meeting’s moderator, emphasized that these Roman interventions should be taken into account in the further course of the synodal way,” he wrote. “These proposals ultimately prevented a moratorium on the synodal way, which had also been proposed, so that it can continue, taking into account the input offered.”
Trapped bishops Irme Stetter-Karp, the synodal way’s co-president, accused Vatican officials of snubbing bishops and laity who favor sweeping changes.
- “I am grateful to the German bishops for preventing a moratorium on the synodal way in Germany,” she said. “Obviously, an immediate interruption of the reform dialogue and the synodal deliberations and decisions in our country was an urgent wish of certain cardinals in Rome. This shows me how important it will be that we clearly bring our agenda to the global synod.”
Theologian Hans-Joachim Sander said that if the moratorium had been accepted, authorities would have struggled to cope with a surge in formal requests to leave the Church. “This was apparently also clear to the Roman stakeholders, which is probably why they relented,” he suggested.
The German Catholic initiative New Beginning, which opposes the synodal way, said that by raising expectations that were impossible to meet, the bishops had “maneuvered themselves into a trap.”
- It said: “The decisive factor will be: Do the German bishops and their chairman [Bishop Georg Bätzing] dare to make the change, which includes reflection on the Gospel and the faith of the Church, and do they rediscover it in its viability, especially today? Or do they allow themselves to be further radicalized by that wing which seeks its own salvation, but also that of the Church, in a radical adaptation to contemporary culture?”
What’s next? The synodal way is expected to conclude with a fifth plenary assembly in Frankfurt on March 9-11, 2023. But given the disruption to the fourth assembly’s agenda after the bishops’ rejection of a text on sexual ethics, it is unclear whether participants will have time to vote on all the initiative’s remaining documents.
The divided German episcopate is likely to hold its annual spring plenary meeting around the same time.
🔍 Stories to watch
📅 Coming soon
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. Andrew Dũng-Lạc — and a happy Thanksgiving.
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