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OSV News Showcase | December 8, 2023

A firefighter places a wreath of flowers on a Marian statue overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, 2023, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis was to pray at the statue later in the day, continuing the papal tradition of visiting the Spanish Steps on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)
A firefighter places a wreath of flowers on a Marian statue overlooking the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, 2023, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. Pope Francis was to pray at the statue later in the day, continuing the papal tradition of visiting the Spanish Steps on the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Good evening!

It’s interesting that in Advent we remember the Immaculate Conception — Mary, conceived without sin. In the beginning of John’s Gospel we are reminded that “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (Jn 1:14), and he did — the only concession to Christ’s powerful Godhood being a necessarily pure-souled woman — the ark in which Jesus could grow into flesh and blood. So, today we have an invitation to dwell in all that mystery amid all our busy lives.

In this season of preparation, we at OSV News are happy to help you keep up with the news, offering you headlines from around the world and nearer to home: Bethlehem, where the Holy Family Hospital is struggling to serve people in need; the United Kingdom, where a graduate degree in occult studies is being offered; Latin America, where the church is under threat; the continued warring in Ukraine and the Middle East; and Washington, where intra-party squabbling continues and political futures look less than reassuring, but the area’s Cardinal Gregory has good words about synodality. We also have a reflection on Our Lady of Guadalupe, whose feast day is next Tuesday, and the answer to everyone’s questions about whether they must go to Mass twice in the weekend of Christmas (spoiler alert: yes!), and how that might best be accomplished. Maybe don’t think of two Masses as an intrusion into such busy days; think of them as the pinnacles — and a chance to rest!  

You can find more of our stories by following us on Facebook, X (aka Twitter) and Instagram, and we are always happy to hear your story ideas messaged to us on those platforms. Have a great weekend, and, as always, pray for peace.

Elizabeth Scalia

Culture Editor

Senate Republicans block Ukraine-Israel emergency aid over border, raising Catholic concerns

Catholic immigration advocates expressed concern about potential changes for asylum-seekers and argued the aid package shouldn’t be the vehicle for them.

Latin American bishops show solidarity with Guatemalan cardinal amid threats

Cardinal Álvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango said in a Nov. 30 radio interview that he had been told of plans to have him arrested. He also revealed that the government of outgoing President Alejandro Giammattei sent a strongly worded letter to the apostolic nuncio in Guatemala City.

Cardinal Gregory discusses pope’s synodal vision, need for a welcoming church

Cardinal Wilton Gregory also reflected on America’s “culture of isolation” aggravated further by the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magic is not ‘harmless fun,’ priest says as British university plans occult studies program

“As faith has weakened, many Catholics have adopted new age and occult beliefs and practices,” said Father Pat Collins. It “opens people up to the dark side. … There is a crisis of truth, and a crisis of meaning — people are getting into all kinds of things they wouldn’t have got into before (and) are more open to spiritual forces that can be negative.

GOP presidential candidates debate absent Trump, gender transitions for minors

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, the two Catholic candidates on the debate stage, staked out different positions. Christie argued that although he views such procedures as dangerous, he believed parents, not the government, should make those decisions. DeSantis argued that “as a parent, you do not have the right to abuse your kids” through “irreversible procedures,” and noted that European countries such as Sweden have implemented restrictions on those procedures after seeing their effects.

Latin patriarch: The time has come for political leaders to make good on statehood slogans as war rages

Cardinal Pierbattista Pizzaballa said that now is the time for leaders to concentrate their efforts on finding a viable solution for all those living in the Holy Land, including the Palestinians living in the West Bank as well as the Gaza Strip.

Yes, Christmas Eve is a Sunday, but there’s no ‘double dipping’ for Catholics

“Because there are two days of obligation — i.e., Sunday and Christmas — this means that there are two distinct obligations to speak of. Each separate obligation needs to be fulfilled by attending a separate Mass,” Canon lawyer Jenna Marie Cooper wrote.

Hospital close to Christ’s birthplace in Bethlehem struggles to operate amid war

The Holy Family Hospital in Bethlehem, a charity institution, delivers approximately 5,000 babies annually and provides 150,000 services, including a crucial mobile clinic — which until the war went out daily to reach women in isolated West Bank villages — a gestational diabetes clinic and the only menopause clinic in the West Bank.

FBI director spars with GOP Senators about memo on ‘radical traditionalist Catholics’

Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., asked FBI Director Christopher Wray if Catholic churches are “breeding grounds for domestic terrorism,” and if there is “systemic bigotry against Catholics in the FBI?” Wray rejected both claims.

Univ. of Notre Dame names Father Robert Dowd its new president

The Holy Cross priest joined Notre Dame’s political science faculty in 2004, with his research focusing on how Christian and Islamic religious communities impact support for democratic institutions, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

Joel Stepanek: Our Lady of Guadalupe encourages me to be an authentic model of faith

It might be the story of the image that resonates — a humble farmer encounters Mary and, through his diligence, she offers an image that provides consolation and hope to the Mexican people (and to the world). The preservation of the tilma of St. Juan Diego, upon which that image is imprinted, is miraculous. But what resonates the most is Mary’s appearance, thereon.

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