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OSV News Showcase | December 29, 2023

Children place flowers around a figurine of the baby Jesus in front of the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica during Christmas Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican Dec. 24, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)
Children place flowers around a figurine of the baby Jesus in front of the main altar of St. Peter’s Basilica during Christmas Mass with Pope Francis at the Vatican Dec. 24, 2023. (CNS photo/Lola Gomez)

Good evening! Merry Christmas! 

On the fifth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me … FIVE GOLDEN RINGS!

Sing loud — it’s still Christmas! I love these precious days of Christmas, when I can remind my children that we are still celebrating (but mostly resting) in the wonder of the Incarnation. I hope that the festivities continue for you and yours and, as we close 2023, that Christ is the source of this year’s joys, the balm for this year’s sorrows and the reason for your hope. 

This week’s stories from Rome include Pope Francis’ Christmas address, and his (separate) conversations with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke. Meanwhile, an expert says Christian persecution is on the rise globally, but is overlooked; Middle East Christians are sad but hopeful on Christmas amid constant Gaza bombardment; Church Militant confronts the prospect of shutting down; and Pope Benedict XVI is remembered upon the approach of the first anniversary of his death.

You can find more of our stories 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 great weekend. Happy New Year!

Maria Wiering

Senior Writer

Pope’s Christmas message: Say ‘yes’ to the Prince of Peace, ‘no’ to war

“Let us exult in this gift of grace,” Pope Francis said. “Rejoice, you who have abandoned all hope, for God offers you his outstretched hand; he does not point a finger at you, but offers you his little baby hand, in order to set you free from your fears, to relieve you of your burdens and to show you that, in his eyes, you are more valuable than anything else.”

Christian persecution on the rise globally, but overlooked, says expert

“It is important to … remember persecuted Christians in many countries around the world. Their suffering gets no coverage at all by major media,” said Joop Koopman, director of communications for Aid to the Church in Need.

‘Jesus, You Take Over,’ Papal Envoy Cried out in Bethlehem amid Wartime Christmas Celebration

Christmas in Bethlehem was celebratory but not as festive as usual this year, given the outbreak of war in the Holy Land two-and-a-half months ago. Visiting for Christmas, the papal envoy, Cardinal Konrad Krajewski, prefect of Vatican Dicastery for the Service of Charity, assisted the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in the wartime celebration amid the “helplessness” of not being able to ease suffering Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Middle East Christians sad, but hopeful on Christmas amid constant Gaza bombardment

Amid ongoing bombardment of the Gaza Strip by the Israeli military — despite the Christmas season — Christian clergymen in the Middle East are decrying attacks on their community’s dwindling numbers.

Everyday collaborators of Pope Benedict XVI remember the late pontiff

“Every morning at 6 a.m., he stood in the window of his bedroom in the Apostolic Palace and looked over the city, and I stood in the kitchen of my flat in front of the palace and waved to him. One day he noticed me and from then on he always raised his hand and waved back,” Demetrio Fortunati told OSV News.

Memorial services around country honor fallen homeless

Each year, the Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day is observed on the first day of winter, Dec. 21, which also is the longest night of the year. For people who are homeless, it is a night that represents the harsh realities of living on the streets.

Facing defamation lawsuit, Church Militant confronts prospect of shutting down

“Somehow, things have gotten out of control,” Michael Voris said Dec. 26 during an emergency hearing in the U.S. District Court of New Hampshire in Concord.

ANALYSIS: What does the Vatican declaration on blessing irregular and same-sex couples actually say?

The Vatican’s declaration permitting Catholic priests to give non-liturgical blessings to couples in same-sex or other irregular situations, has sparked international reaction, both positive and negative. However, implementing the document’s intended understanding of its contents among Catholics — particularly for those living in an increasingly less religious society — requires intentional catechesis explaining its finer theological and pastoral points.

Papal calendar for 2024: Not full, but puts spotlight on major events

As the new year begins, Pope Francis will be the oldest reigning pope since the early 1900s and the third oldest in history.

COMMENTARY: ‘Freud’s Last Session’: A timely film on questions of God and human dialogue

FATHER PATRICK BRISCOE: In a cinematic world often captivated by action and spectacle, director Matthew Brown brings a refreshing depth of intellectual and philosophical engagement with his latest film, “Freud’s Last Session.”

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