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OSV News Showcase | December 15, 2023

This outdoor manger, pictured Dec. 12 at St. Takla Maronite Catholic Church in Beirut, is steps away from a busy intersection. The "reason for the season" is evident in Lebanon, with the manger, or creche, even sometimes included among glistening Christmas decorations throughout the country. (CNS photo/Johnny Antoun) See LEBANON-CULTURE-CRECHE Dec. 21, 2016.

Good evening!

Just think, a week from today we will be in the middle of putting all the “final touches” on Christmas as we pray the beautiful and ancient O Antiphons, bidding the arrival of the Christ whom we call Wisdom, Adonai, Root of Jesse, Key of David, King of Nations and finally our Emmanuel, when once again the Lord has come with herald angels announcing peace! 

“Let peace begin with me” may seem an old cliche, but if we want peace in the world it truly must start with each of us — our own selves. And so we pray for the peace of Christ to settle upon all of us  — on you and yours — and grow within us in these holy days, for the sake of the life of the world. 

As you can see from some of these links, it’s a prayer worth praying as the headlines once again are full of war, abortion, pandemic repercussions, parish bankruptcies and mergers, and more. Thankfully, they also include a truly excellent recommendation of prayer before the creche, and increased reverence for Our Lady, whose great fiat has helped to bring about our redemption. 

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.

Elizabeth Scalia 

Culture Editor

US priest shortage faces new ‘serious crisis’ due to immigration law

For the global faithful accustomed to reports of an ongoing vocations crisis, the Vatican’s March 2023 announcement that the worldwide number of seminarians, priests, and men and women in religious orders has declined was hardly a surprise. But in a particularly unwelcome revelation for American Catholics, the federal government announced that same month in a Federal Register notice a procedural change in how it processes green cards for foreign-born religious workers.

Supreme Court agrees to review legal challenge to abortion pill

A coalition of pro-life opponents of mifepristone, which is the first of two drugs used in a medication or chemical abortion, previously filed suit in an effort to revoke the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the drug, arguing the government violated its own safety standards when it first approved the drug in 2000. The FDA has argued the drug poses little risk to the mother in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Nebraska priest dies after attack during apparent rectory break-in

Father Stephen Gutgsell was found “suffering from injuries sustained during an assault” on Dec. 10 at the rectory of St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, where he served as pastoral administrator.

Survey: Pandemic lockdown of churches caused widespread mental, physical suffering

“The impact of these decisions on people’s lives cannot be overlooked,” said James Somerville-Meikle, Catholic Union deputy director, in a Dec. 8 statement. “Words like ‘isolated,’ ‘depressed’ and ‘lonely’ appeared time after time … a harrowing reminder of the impact that restrictions imposed on our churches for the best part of two years had on people’s lives.”

4 congregations of women religious sue gunmaker Smith & Wesson over assault weapons

The sisters say corporate directors at Smith & Wesson Brands have exposed the company to massive liabilities by its manufacture, sale and marketing of AR-15 style rifles.

Two Ohio dioceses considering merger

The move comes a year after a similar attempt for the dioceses of Columbus and Steubenville was put on hold by former Steubenville Bishop Jeffrey M. Monforton.

Sacramento Diocese to file for bankruptcy amid more than 250 abuse lawsuits

“Without such a reorganization process, it is likely that not all the abuse victim-survivors would receive a fair consideration of their claim,” Bishop Jaime Soto said. “The funds available to settle claims could be depleted by the first few cases addressed, leaving those that follow with little or no compensation.”

Ukraine’s war-torn Christians look ahead to first Christmas shared with West

When Ukraine’s embattled citizens gather this Christmas, their rich festivities will feel symbolically different — as the festival is celebrated for the first time on Dec. 25, in line with the Western calendar.

Synod’s call to form Catholics as ‘digital missionaries’ is paradigm shift, say experts

“Sometimes we are a little bit behind in these things,” said Synod delegate Father Iván Montelongo of the Diocese of El Paso, Texas, referring to the Catholic Church. “Changing our perspective from the internet as a dangerous place to the internet as mission territory — that paradigm shift is already a huge improvement.”

Pregnant mother at heart of Texas abortion case flees state after high court’s stay

The 31-year-old mother of two from the Dallas area had sought permission from a judge to undergo an abortion after her now 20-week-old unborn baby was diagnosed with trisomy 18, a typically fatal genetic condition, alleging the pregnancy was also putting her life at risk. On Dec. 11, attorneys representing Cox said she traveled out of state to undergo the procedure legally since the state’s highest court “has yet to issue a final ruling on this time-sensitive matter.”

‘Christ before me’: Pray the Breastplate of St. Patrick at the manger

Christ is there when the shepherd rises in the crisp morning air, when he sleeps beneath the starry canopy, when he breaks bread at the end of a weary day’s toil. In all these moments, “Christ behind me, Christ within me” becomes a whispered assurance that the incarnate God is there — in waking and sleeping, in moments of rest and labor. “Christ beneath me, Christ above me …”

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