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 readings Gal 1:13-24 ▪ Ps 139:1B-3, 13-14AB, 14C-15 ▪ Lk 10:38-42.
😇 Today’s saint St. Francis of Assisi.
🗞 Starting seven
1: The document for the continental stage of the two-year global synodal process will be released in mid-October.
2: Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Anthony of Volokolamsk has said that relations with the Vatican are “practically frozen.”
3: Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I has expressed sadness about Russian Orthodox leader Patriarch Kirill’s stance on the “unholy” Ukraine war (German interview).
4: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk has said he is “simply amazed at the strength of spirit” of wounded Ukrainian soldiers.
5: Barry Hatton reports that “unwelcome revelations” are piling up for the Catholic Church in Portugal.
6: Jean-Marc Sauvé has said that the French Catholic Church “has all the cards in hand to move forward” on the first anniversary of a landmark abuse report (French interview).
7: And Philip Kosloski explains why St. Francis of Assisi’s feast is the day after his death.
🇻🇦 Today’s Vatican Bollettino
- Resignation of Cardinal Gregorio Rosa Chávez, 80, as auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of San Salvador, El Salvador.
- Address by Cardinal Michael Czerny at a Vatican press conference on “The Letter,” a documentary about the ecological crisis.
🧐 Look closer
A notable resignation On Saturday, Oct. 1, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of German Archbishop Hans-Josef Becker. The one-line statement from the Holy See press office made it look like a routine matter. But it has wider significance.
Archbishop Becker has led the Archdiocese of Paderborn, central Germany, since 2003. He submitted his resignation to the pope in June, well ahead of his 75th birthday on June 8, 2023.
Now that the see, which dates back to the year 799, has fallen vacant, a complex process begins to identify Becker’s successor. The archdiocese is hoping that, for the first time, lay people will play a direct role in selecting the new archbishop, possibly paving the way for other German dioceses to do the same.
Why now? The archdiocese says it is implementing a text formally adopted by the German “synodal way” in February. The document, “Involvement of the faithful in the appointment of the diocesan bishop,” says that cathedral chapters should work with an elected body representing “the entire people of God in the diocese” to determine a list of suitable candidates that the chapter sends to the Vatican.
How will it work? Paderborn differs from other dioceses because it is governed by the 1929 Prussian Concordat. Its cathedral chapter takes a leading role in selecting archbishops, drawing up a list of candidates that it submits to the pope, who sends back three names. The chapter then selects one of the candidates as archbishop in a secret ballot.
The archdiocese wants 14 lay people to work with 14 cathedral canons to draw up the initial list and then choose from the three names identified by the pope.
Can it work? The archdiocese acknowledges that its plan faces obstacles. First, the initial list drawn up by the 28-strong group would only be valid under the concordat if it is explicitly approved by a majority of the cathedral chapter. Second, Pope Francis would need to extend pontifical secrecy to the lay group, allowing it to view the names of the final three candidates.
What’s next? An initial meeting of lay people and canons took place on Sept. 23. The cathedral chapter informed the lay group “about procedures and requirements,” the archdiocese said on Sept. 28. The participants also drew up a profile of the ideal archbishop.
The archdiocese said that after a second meeting, the canons and lay people will draw up a list of suitable candidates. But it did not say whether it had received any reaction from Rome to the new procedure.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 Fifty-eight percent of U.S. Catholics surveyed in an EWTN News/RealClear Opinion Research Poll do not want President Joe Biden to run for re-election in 2024.
🇨🇱 Investigators have reportedly searched the Jesuit headquarters in Santiago de Chile in connection with a priest accused of abuse (Spanish report).
🇳🇮 Guatemalan Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini has criticized Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s declaration that the Catholic Church is “the perfect dictatorship” (Spanish report).
🇧🇾 Nuncio Archbishop Ante Jozić has met with the deputy foreign minister of Belarus to discuss “the situation in the region.”
🇮🇪 A statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola will be unveiled in Dublin this week.
🇮🇩 An Indonesian bishop has expressed his condolences after at least 125 people were killed in a soccer match stampede.
🇮🇳. Hindu nationalists have reportedly harassed children traveling to a Catholic school event.
📅 Coming soon
Oct. 9: Canonization of Bl. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Bl. Artemide Zatti; Feast of St. John Henry Newman.
Oct. 11: Pope Francis celebrates Mass marking the 60th anniversary of the start of Vatican II.
Oct. 12: The Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences’ General Conference begins in Thailand; Feast of Bl. Carlo Acutis.
Oct. 15: First anniversary of the murder of Sir David Amess; 100th anniversary of the birth of Fr. Luigi Giussani.
Oct. 18: Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi turns 80.
Oct. 19: Trial of Cardinal Joseph Zen due to resume; Anniversary of Blessed Jerzy Popiełuszko’s death.
Have a blessed feast of St. Francis of Assisi.