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OSV News Showcase | January 5, 2024

Gov. Caleb Mutfwang of Nigeria's Plateau state is pictured Dec. 27, 2023, visiting communities affected by the Dec. 23-28 killings. He declared a week of mourning Jan. 1-8 to honor the deaths of at least 200 Christians killed during Christmas by Fulani herders in the West African country. (OSV News photo/X (formerly Twitter) account of Caleb Mutfwang)

Good evening!

Happy New Year! I hope you continue celebrating the birth of our Lord and are getting ready for Epiphany (celebrated around the world tomorrow and on Sunday in the U.S.). 

We offer you a sampling of the things we covered this week, including persecution of Christians in Nigeria, Nicaragua, and Asia (Including Hong Kong and Pakistan), a recent ruling on abortion in Texas, an Irish archbishop urging people not to promote disinformation about refugees, a Hollywood actor completing his initiation into the Catholic faith, a way to get Padre Pio letters to your inbox and much more. 

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.

Elizabeth Scalia

Culture Editor


US bishops asked to hold new rounds of Synod on Synodality listening sessions

Dioceses across the U.S. are asked to hold additional listening sessions in the next few months, following a request from the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops which is preparing for the second session of the global Synod on Synodality in October.


Vatican issues new clarification of controversial blessings document

Each bishop has a responsibility to discern the local application of the declaration “Fiducia Supplicans” (“Supplicating Trust”) on “the pastoral meaning of blessings,” signed by Pope Francis and published by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of Faith Dec. 18, but a bishop should not deny priests the ability to bless people who come to them, the press release said.


Actor Shia LaBeouf fully enters the Catholic Church New Year’s Eve

An actor who recently portrayed a beloved saint on screen has now fully come into the Catholic Church in real life. Shia LaBeouf, a Hollywood veteran and star of director Abel Ferrara’s film “Padre Pio,” received the Sacrament of Confirmation, completing his initiation into the Catholic faith, during the New Year holiday weekend.


Newly translated Padre Pio letters are coming to your email inbox

The St. Pio Foundation has announced the release of “Epistolary,” a collection of 365 letters written by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, widely known as Padre Pio, to his spiritual directors and students. A dedicated page on the foundation’s website includes a sign-up form (available at saintpiofoundation.org/saint-pios-epistolary) for receiving a weekly PDF with seven letters, one for each day of a given week.


Hong Kong Catholic publisher Jimmy Lai pleads not guilty in national security trial

Prominent Hong Kong Catholic, philanthropist and media mogul Jimmy Lai pleaded not guilty to endangering national security in a trial that democracy advocates around the world said includes bogus charges.


Irish archbishop decries riots, people showing ‘suspicion and hatred’ toward refugees

Archbishop Dermot Farrell of Dublin has expressed concern over the “significant numbers” of people in Ireland “seeking to foment disinformation, suspicion and hatred” towards refugees and migrants.


Nicaraguan regime publishes photos of Bishop Álvarez as US demands release of imprisoned bishop, other clergy

The U.S. Department of State has demanded the release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa and other imprisoned Nicaraguan religious leaders following a wave of detentions targeting Catholic clergy over the Christmas season. Bishop Álvarez has been held for more than 500 days.


Nigeria’s sorrow is ‘overflowing,’ bishop says after Christians massacred over Christmas

Gov. Caleb Mutfwang of Nigeria’s Plateau state declared a week of mourning Jan. 1-8 to honor the deaths of at least 200 Christians killed over Christmas by Fulani Muslim herders, targeting Christians in the country. Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah of Sokoto, Nigeria, said the attackers are “children of darkness” and come “from the deepest pit of hell.” The Dec. 23-28 killings also have led to thousands of people being forced to flee their homes.


Appeals court rules emergency abortions not required in Texas under federal law

The Biden administration cannot use a 1986 emergency health care law to require hospitals in Texas to perform emergency abortions, a federal appeals court in New Orleans ruled Jan. 2. The court found that the federal law in question, the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, obligates doctors and hospitals to attempt to stabilize both mother and unborn child in an emergency.


Perinatal hospice and palliative care offer compassionate alternatives to abortion

Located in Fairfax, Virginia, Tepeyac OB/GYN’s Kristen Anderson Perinatal Hospice Program is one of many programs nationwide offering specialized medical, spiritual and emotional support for families that receive a prenatal diagnosis indicating their baby may die before or soon after birth. Perinatal hospice and palliative care support both mother and child from the time of diagnosis through the baby’s death while prioritizing quality of life and comfort.


Thousands of Catholics gather in St. Louis to go on mission, ‘be the light’ at SEEK24

Nearly 20,000 conference participants have converged in St. Louis at the America’s Center Convention Complex for the Jan. 1-5 SEEK24 conference held by the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.


Make a resolution for the climate, for the sanctity of life

COMMENTARY: Looking for a resolution that promotes the sanctity of life? Catholic Climate Covenant can be among those with ideas.

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