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OSV News Showcase | December 1, 2023

Palestinian Manan Abu Abuayash holds her baby Maram, 6 months, while lighting candles Dec. 20, 2015, in the Church of the Nativity where tradition believes Christ was born in Bethlehem, West Bank. Advent is a time of anticipation and deep consolation. (OSV News/Debbie Hill, CNS)

Good evening!

Well here we are, the last Friday of the last workweek before Advent when things paradoxically speed up in the world but slow down in our hearts and spirits — at least that’s what we hope, as we light a candle and breathe a prayer each evening. We pray that all of you will find time in Advent to feel the consolation, promise and peace of the season. 

After a busy news week, we bring you a selection of stories we hope will keep you feeling well informed, and able to both pray and speak on these topics with a bit of insight. 

From Rome, CNS has reported on Pope Francis’ bronchial infection and also on his plans to withdraw American Cardinal Burke’s Vatican salary and rent-free apartment. Meanwhile, it’s 10 years since the release of the pope’s “Evangelii Gaudium” and the document still matters; an alleged victim of Father Marko Rupnik tells of feeling unheard by church leaders who would not listen; clearly, as we see in an abuse story out of Rochester, more needs to be done to protect vulnerable adults from predation. Internationally, there is a new story about imprisoned Nicaragua’s Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa and also one on the new Miss Universe, who hails from that troubled country; the Russo-Ukraine war has damaged a Catholic cathedral and the hostage release situation in the Middle East continues to be frustrating and fluid. Finally, the U.S. bishops have noted that reducing carbon emissions cannot be done on the backs of the poor, Bishop Robert Barron has criticized the Synod on Synodality’s report on science and sexual morality, and writer Greg Erlandson looks at the abortion issue and offers a practical solution that bears discussion. 

‘No one listened,’ says alleged Rupnik victim, recalling fight with church system for truth

Instead of taking actions to ensure justice and reparation and the necessary support for the complainant, Gloria Branciani was ridiculed, accused of being responsible for her improper relationship with Father Rupnik and punished: “In August 1993, (Father) Špidlík advised me to write a letter of resignation” from religious life, said Branciani, adding that it was “a letter that he wrote himself and that I still have today, in which he suggested saying there were no precise reasons for my request for dispensation from vows.”

Nicaragua claims imprisoned bishop receives ‘preferential’ treatment

The Nicaraguan government has released a series of photos and videos of imprisoned Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa — purportedly as proof of him receiving preferential treatment — that have sparked alarm over the prelate’s emaciated appearance and indignation over his continued incarceration in one of the country’s most notorious prisons.

A decade later, Pope Francis’ ‘Evangelii Gaudium’ continues to resonate

“The whole point of the document was, if Jesus becomes the central reality, central person, of your life, you will begin to experience joy,” FOCUS Founder Curtis Martin said, “because when you allow Jesus in the center of your life, you also bring the Father and the Holy Spirit. And the fruits of the Spirit are love and joy and peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness. … Joy is the one gift that you can’t get away from. Everyone wants to be joyful.”

Russian drone damages Kyiv Catholic cathedral

The assault was Russia’s largest drone attack on Kyiv since the start of the full-scale invasion in February 2022. Ukraine’s forces said 74 of the drones had been successfully eliminated. Kyiv remained under an air raid alert lasting more than six hours.

Israel-Hamas truce has been extended by two days; 11 other hostages freed

According to the agreement, at least 50 Israeli hostages — civilian women and children under age 19 — among the about 240 kidnapped by Hamas Oct. 7 — were being released in batches over four days during a pause in the fighting. The release of every additional 10 hostages will result in one other day in the pause. The White House confirmed an agreement was reached.

Bishop Barron criticizes synod report’s suggestion scientific advances could shift church morality teaching

Bishop Barron, who leads the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota, said he had two issues with the Synod on Synodality’s synthesis report’s language: first, “that it is so condescending to the richly articulate tradition of moral reflection in Catholicism, a prime example of which is the theology of the body developed by Pope St. John Paul II.”.

Experts: Rochester lawsuit shows church has work to do in protecting adults from clergy abuse

The term “vulnerable adult” is itself problematic, experts said, since it focuses on victims more than offenders. Instead, they said, the term “non-consenting” should be used, and lay people should take a greater role in developing specific policies to ensure adults, who can be vulnerable at various points in life, remain safe in pastoral care.

Nicaraguan Catholic Miss Universe wins hearts of fellow countrymen oppressed by the regime

“This is much more than a beauty contest for Nicaraguans,” said Yader Morazán, an exiled Nicaraguan lawyer. “Miss Universe 2023 has become a patriotic symbol, which embodies the history of a poor, humble and suffering people, but a hard-working people, too, with dreams, personal drive and desires of freedom.”

U.S. bishops: COP28 must heed ‘cry of the earth’ and ‘cry of the poor’

“No government will be successful in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the long run if it requires a significant increase of the energy costs of middle- and low-income citizens,” said Archbishop Borys A. Gudziak and Bishop A. Elias Zaidan.

How do we win the abortion battle? Maybe like this

The painful truth, however, is that pretty much everyone does know what the church’s position is. Unfortunately, it is understood in the narrowest of terms: NO. What the pro-life movement in general, and unfortunately even the church, has not done is to campaign convincingly for what replaces the “safety net” of abortion in the voters’ minds.

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