Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s new weekday 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 3:1-5 ▪ Lk 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75 ▪ Lk 11:5-13.
😇 Today’s saint: St. Bruno.
🗞 Starting seven
1: The head of Opus Dei has said he will call an extraordinary general congress in the first half of 2023 to change the personal prelature’s statutes.
2: A man was arrested Wednesday after damaging two ancient Roman busts in the Vatican Museums.
3: Cardinal Mario Grech has described the global synodal process as the “mature fruit of Vatican II.”
4: Germany’s Bishop Georg Bätzing and Bishop Franz-Josef Bode have discussed the continental phase of the synodal process during a visit to the General Secretariat of the Synod in Rome.
5; George Weigel argues that the U.S. national synod synthesis was “a very disappointing document” (Michael Sean Winters, Stephen P. White).
6: Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk says that the Ukraine war “will probably go down in history as one of the greatest disasters of the beginning of the third millennium.”
7: And the photoblog Humans of New York has featured the Dominican priest Fr. Bill Holt.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
- Resignation of 75-year-old Bishop Giovanni Paolo Zedda of Iglesias, Italy.
- Papal audiences Archbishop Carlos Gustavo Castillo Mattasoglio of Lima, Peru; Fr. Michael A. Perry, O.F.M.; Archbishop Timothy John Costelloe, S.D.B., of Perth, president of the Australian bishops’ conference; Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, coordinator of the Council for the Economy; Delegation of the Chemin Neuf Community; Cardinal Luis Francisco Ladaria Ferrer, S.J., prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith; Participants in a conference sponsored by the Dicastery for the Causes of Saints.
- Program of Pope Francis’ Nov. 3-6 visit to Bahrain released.
🧐 Look closer
Archbishop’s admission German Archbishop Robert Zollitsch published a nine-minute video Thursday in which he admitted making “serious mistakes” in the handling of abuse cases.
Who is Archbishop Zollitsch? The 84-year-old was a leading figure in the German Church, serving as chairman of the country’s bishops’ conference from 2008 to 2014.
Zollitsch — portrayed as a “liberal” by the media — was named archbishop of Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany’s second-largest diocese, by Pope John Paul II in 2003. His resignation was accepted by Pope Francis in 2013, shortly after he turned 75.
He was head of the bishops’ conference in 2010, when the German Church was shaken by revelations of widespread clerical abuse. He discussed the crisis that year with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome.
What did he say in the video? In an almost 1,000-word statement on the website robert-zollitsch.de, the emeritus archbishop said that his “attitude and actions were guided far too much by the good of the Catholic Church and far too little by sympathy for the suffering of those affected and care for the victims.”
- In a stark, but professionally filmed video, Zollitsch added: “I believed the statements and promises of the perpetrators all too readily and wanted to give a second chance to those who had been guilty, repented of their behavior in conversation with me, and promised repentance.”
He underlined that, while he worked closely with others in the archdiocese, “I am personally responsible for my behavior and expressly acknowledge my guilt.”
What’s the context? The German Catholic Church is in the midst of a profound reckoning with abuse. Extensive studies have shown that many Church leaders behaved negligently for decades. But the failures are not simply historical: currently serving bishops have also admitted errors.
The Archdiocese of Freiburg was due to publish a study of its treatment of abuse cases on Oct. 25, but it announced last month that the report had been delayed to April 2023.
Zollitsch has faced pressure for years to address his role in mishandling cases in greater detail. Archbishop Stephan Burger, his successor as archbishop of Freiburg, said in a 2018 interview that although Zollitsch had admitted some failings, abuse survivors deserved to hear more from him. “But that is, of course, his decision, which I cannot take away from him,” Burger said.
What’s next Germany’s “synodal way” presents itself as a comprehensive response to the failures exposed by the abuse crisis. But its leading protagonists are facing scrutiny of their own records. Zollitsch’s admission suggests that the crisis is far from over.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 Archbishop William E. Lori has appealed for “radical solidarity” with pregnant women 100 days after the Supreme Court’s landmark abortion ruling.
🇳🇮 At least 60 religious have left or been expelled from Nicaragua since April 2018, according to a human rights group (Spanish report).
🇹🇱 The Holy See’s representative in East Timor has urged the country’s Catholics to “respect the Vatican’s decision” on Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo.
🇪🇹 A Catholic bishop has deplored the “indiscriminate” shelling of civilians in Ethiopia's Tigray region.
🇩🇪 Aachen Bishop Helmut Dieser has urged his 66-year-old auxiliary Bishop Johannes Bündgens to resign after a court found him guilty of breach of trust (German text).
🇮🇹 Italian priest Fr. Alex Zanotelli has announced a fast against the renewal of a migration deal between Italy and Libya (Italian report).
🏴 A report by the Anglican Church of England has uncovered almost 400 new abuse cases.
📅 Coming soon
Oct. 9 Canonization of Bl. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini and Bl. Artemide Zatti; Feast of St. John Henry Newman.
Oct. 10 Soup kitchen dedicated to Bl. Carlo Acutis inaugurated in Assisi.
Oct. 11 Pope Francis celebrates Mass marking the 60th anniversary of the start of Vatican II; The 30th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
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. Bruno.