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. Leander of Seville (Roman Martyrology).
📜 Today’s readings: 2 Kgs 5:1-15ab ▪ Ps 42:2, 3; 43:3, 4 ▪ Lk 4:24-30.
🗓 Today’s anniversary: 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ election.
🗞 Starting seven
1: Pope Francis marked 10 years since his election with a Mass with cardinals at his residence.
2: The pope has given 10th anniversary interviews to Il Fatto Quotidiano, Infobae, La Nación, Perfil, RSI, and Vatican media.
3: Nicaragua has proposed suspending relations with the Holy See.
4: Patriarch Kirill of Moscow has congratulated Francis on his 10th anniversary and also asked the pope to intervene in a dispute over the Kyiv Pechersk Lavra (Russian statement).
5: A spokesman for Poland’s bishops’ conference has said that Archbishop Marian Gołębiewski violated restrictions on his ministry when he concelebrated the episcopal ordination Mass of Bishop Sławomir Oder (Polish statement, report).
6: Elise Ann Allen, John Allen, Christopher Altieri, Cardinal Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, Msgr. Philippe Bordeyne, Massimo Borghesi, Maria Antonietta Calabrò, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Alberto Fernández, Stefano Fontana, Archbishop Stanislaw Gądecki, Andrea Gagliarducci, Cardinal Mario Grech, Andrea Grillo, Jean-Marie Guénois, Fr. Stan Chu Ilo, Marco Impagliazzo, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, Fr. Roger Landry, Archbishop Jorge Lozano, Sr. Hermenegild Makoro, Msgr. Armando Matteo, Patriarch Bartholomew I, Robert Royal, Br. Michael Schopf, S.J., and Amaya Valcárcel Silvela, José Francisco Serrano Oceja, Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Damian Thompson, Andrea Tornielli and Andrea Monda, Giovanni Maria Vian, and Christopher White reflect on 10 years of Pope Francis.
7: And a priest in Colombia has reportedly objected to a murdered politician’s request to be buried upright.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
- Notice that Pope Francis presided at Mass in the Casa Santa Marta with cardinals present in Rome on the 10th anniversary of his election.
🔄 Weekend round-up
On Saturday, March 11, Pope Francis granted audiences to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Fr. Andrew Small, secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, members of Misión America (address), and participants in a meeting promoted by the Strategic Alliance of Catholic Research Universities (SACRU) and the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation (Italian address).
On Sunday, March 12, the pope delivered his Angelus address, reflecting on Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.
🧐 Look closer
After Frankfurt The fifth and final plenary assembly of Germany’s controversial synodal way in Frankfurt ended Saturday just as organizers had hoped: with all documents gaining the necessary two-thirds majority of votes.
Only one text was not put to the vote as scheduled: a four-page document called “Joint consultation and decision-making” seeking the creation of “synodal councils” in dioceses and parishes.
The paper was withdrawn days after the Vatican’s representative in Germany told bishops that Rome opposed not only the creation of a national synodal council, but also local councils.
But that doesn’t mean that the proposal is dead.
‘It is just beginning’ While the synodal way, officially launched in 2019, has formally ended, it will now continue in a different form.
- As synodal way co-president Irme Stetter-Karp put it Saturday: “The synodal journey continues! It does not end here and now. It is just beginning! Because now we have to implement the resolutions we have and prepare the synodal committee.”
The synodal committee consists of 27 diocesan bishops, 27 members chosen by the powerful lay Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), and 20 members elected at the plenary assembly.
The body has two principal tasks: laying the groundwork for the creation of a national synod council by 2026 (despite Vatican objections) and overseeing the implementation of synodal way resolutions.
The committee will not only work on texts formally adopted by the synodal way; it will also take up papers that only made it part way through the process. Among them is the document on local synodal councils. By avoiding a potentially tight vote and moving the paper straight to the committee, synodal way organizers avoided a setback and kept the proposal alive.
Prominent synodal way figures want to move quickly to implement resolutions which they believe do not require Roman permission. This includes — in their eyes — the document calling on bishops to “officially allow blessing ceremonies in their dioceses” for same-sex couples, adopted last Friday.
Birgit Mock, who helped to oversee the text’s adoption, said Saturday that a manual for blessings would be prepared for all German dioceses.
- “This will happen very soon,” she explained. “We already have many and very good preliminary considerations for this. And then the bishops, as provided for in canon law, will put this template into practice for their dioceses. In some dioceses, I believe, this will happen very quickly. Elsewhere, it may take time, but that is also part of our reality.”
But the lack of episcopal unanimity could prove risky. While 38 bishops backed the text, nine opposed it and 11 abstained. The Vatican’s recent intervention on synodal councils was prompted by a letter from five German bishops. It’s possible that a group of bishops could seek a similar ruling on the blessings manual.
The October test Meanwhile, German Church leaders have their sights set firmly on October’s synod on synodality, where they intend to propose the synodal way as a model for the global Church.
The synodal way’s leaders have insisted again and again that they are not seeking to forge a Sonderweg, or German “special path,” separating them from the wider Church.
Will they be given ample room by the synod on synodality’s managers to make their case? And if so, how far will their proposals resonate beyond the distinctive German-speaking ecclesiastical culture from which they have emerged?
🔍 Stories to watch
🇺🇸 A Catholic church in Ledyard, Connecticut, has been burglarized and daubed with “hate speech.”
🇨🇱 A church in central Chile is the latest to be targeted by arsonists.
🇪🇸 An estimated 50,000 people have attended a pro-life march in Madrid (Spanish report).
🇫🇷 The interview phase of the apostolic visitation in the troubled French Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon has ended (French statement).
🇱🇧 Cardinal Robert McElroy has reportedly visited Lebanon’s Kadisha Valley.
🇵🇰 A Catholic official in Pakistan has said that “small churches” are using Pope Francis’ comments on homosexuality “to convert Catholics.”
🇳🇬 Christian and Muslim leaders in Nigeria’s Kaduna State have issued a joint appeal to religious leaders to remain neutral amid upcoming gubernatorial elections.
📅 Coming soon
March 19 10th anniversary of Pope Francis’ inauguration.
March 31 Episcopal ordination of Bishop-elect Anthony C. Celino at St. Patrick Cathedral in El Paso, Texas.
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.
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.
Have a happy feast of St. Leander of Seville.
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