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OSV News Showcase | December 22, 2023

A figurine of the Christ Child is seen in the Church of St. Catherine, adjacent to the Church of the Nativity, in Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 17, 2023. (OSV News photo/Debbie Hill)

Good evening!

If you’re feeling like we just celebrated the feast of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in November, you’re quite right. However, outside of the United States Mother Cabrini is remembered today, and considering the astonishing output of her time on earth — the hospitals, schools, orphanages and colleges she either directly contributed to creating or were the work of her dedicated Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus — why not give the woman two feast days? Francesca Saverio Cabrini was perhaps the greatest among those religious women who, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, pretty much invented what we now call “social services,” long before the U.S. government entered the arena. 

Isn’t it nice to finish off this final work week before Christmas reflecting on how the Newborn King we are about to welcome into our midst would inspire such saints, and such work, having such a great effect upon the world? 

Today’s roundup includes reaction to this week’s big news: the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith releasing a document on blessing couples in irregular situations, including same-sex couples. We also have headlines ranging from an alleged sniper attack on Christians in the Gaza Strip and outcomes of the COP28, to Hawaii’s historic leprosy settlements and the restoration of a Notre Dame Cathedral icon.

You can find more of our stories — including some exceptional Christmas features — by following us on Facebook, X (aka Twitter) and Instagram, and I’m always happy to hear your story ideas messaged to us on those platforms. Have a truly merry Christmas, and pray for peace on earth.

Elizabeth Scalia

Culture Editor

Experts: Vatican declaration on blessings walks a fine line on marriage, pastoral care

John Grabowski, professor of moral theology and ethics at The Catholic University of America in Washington, told OSV News that “it’s really important to note what the document says and doesn’t say.”

Israeli army denies targeting Gaza church where Pope Francis says ‘unarmed civilians’ were ‘targets’

In a heartfelt appeal during an Angelus prayer Dec. 17, Pope Francis called for an end to the “terrorism” of war, condemning the previous day’s attack in which — the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem said — an Israeli army sniper shot and killed Nahida Khalil Anton, and her daughter, Samar Kamal Anton, as they walked to a convent at the Holy Family Parish compound in Gaza. The convent of the Missionaries of Charity also was targeted.

With mixed 2023 results, pro-life activists prepare for a new round of ballot measures

Following Ohio, abortion advocates are seeking to hold comparable votes in 2024 in states including Arizona and Florida. But also in 2023, several states passed legislation limiting the procedure, including Nebraska and North Carolina, which both limited the procedure after 12 weeks.

Catholic climate activists concerned COP28’s modest steps will fall short

“I feel like COP28’s results were a mixed bag,” said José Aguto, executive director of the Catholic Climate Covenant. “It is a step forward — but it is a very modest one. And the sobering reality is that we likely are not going to prevent global temperatures from rising; we’re likely going to exceed the 1.5 (degrees Celsius threshold), which is going to be disastrous.”

An iconic cockerel is once again watching over Notre Dame in Paris on top of its cross

Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Paris blessed the figure, which is a heraldic animal of the French Republic and, in a moving moment, inserted the relics of St. Denis, St. Genevieve and the relics of Christ’s crown of thorns, believed to be worn by Jesus during his passion, into the golden statue — which was then lifted up by a crane to go to the top of the gigantic construction.

Molokai’s leprosy settlements — the ‘ohana’ of two Catholic saints — face historic transition

“When the last resident goes,” said retired Superintendent Dean Alexander of the National Park Service, “the buildings will have to tell the story of what happened here.”

Pioneering Guatemalan pediatrician, Opus Dei supernumerary declared venerable

Ernesto Cofiño was born in 1899 to an affluent Guatemalan family. He traveled to Paris to study medicine at the Sorbonne at age 20, specializing in pediatrics. But rather than pursuing a career in Europe, he returned to Guatemala City, where pediatrics was a nascent specialty.

Catholic experts say rule to let franchise employees join unions would be major labor advance

“This rule has the possibility to be one of the most significant things to have emerged in the world of labor and employment relations in the past couple of decades, if it’s able to go forward,” said Joseph McCartin, executive director of the Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor and the Working Poor at Georgetown University in Washington. “It could really have a huge impact.”

New Texas law criminalizing unauthorized migrants’ entry into state called inhumane

Dylan Corbett, executive director of the Hope Border Institute, argued the Biden administration “needs to take immediate action to stop this and every action being taken by Governor Abbott to weaponize our border and cynically deploy our peace officers against the vulnerable.”

COMMENTARY: Whether it’s abortion or irregular blessings, ‘accompaniment’ will be messy

“Accompaniment” is the key notion here, one we increasingly jaw about within the church, even as we try to figure out what it actually looks like or to define its parameters.

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