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OSV News Showcase | January 12, 2024

Faithful walk in procession toward the Dnipro River for the blessing of water Jan. 6, 2024, after Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, head of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, celebrated a Divine Liturgy at the Patriarchal Cathedral of the Resurrection of Christ in Kyiv amid ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine. (OSV News photo/courtesy Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church)

Good evening! 

January 12 is the feast day of St. Marguerite Bourgeoys — who is not only the first female saint to come out of Canada (she was canonized Oct. 31, 1982, by Pope St. John Paul II), she was a woman who believed in her heart that God called her to become a religious sister to serve the poorest and most indigent in the wild and difficult missions of what is now Québec. Her intentions firm, St. Marguerite had to battle off repeated pressures from her bishop, who wished to see her new community, the Congregation of Notre Dame of Montreal, safely behind cloister walls. Her life is an excellent reminder to us all that following the path we feel is genuinely led by God is always a trustworthy thing. 

As you catch up on your news reading this weekend, we bring you headlines on Pope Francis’ concerns about the increased practice of surrogate pregnancies, and the work religious women are doing to combat human trafficking. There are reassurances by Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández that a controversial book of his, published 25 years ago, would not be one he would write today, and a report of another author, Father Jim Sichko, having his recently released book pulled for plagiarism. Don’t miss a feature on how looking at the lives of monks can propel us into a more peaceful yet productive 2024, and an interesting look at Norman Lear’s influence on the culture through the innocuous-seeming platform of the sitcom. 

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


Doctrine chief says his book on sexuality not something he’d write today

Cardinal Fernández told the two websites that he wrote “Mystical Passion: Spirituality and Sensuality” after speaking with young couples “who wanted to better understand the spiritual meaning of their relationships,” but after the book was released, he feared it “could be misinterpreted.”


USCCB affirms pope’s description of surrogacy as turning a child into ‘an object of trafficking’

Pope Francis told diplomats Jan. 8 that he finds surrogacy “deplorable” and would like to see the practice universally banned.


Women religious gear up for battle against human trafficking with prayer, education

The Alliance to End Human Trafficking — whose members include more than 100 congregations of Catholic women religious — has created a dedicated webpage featuring a prayer service and tool kit for the national observance, which was established by Congress in 2007.


Vatican finds Archbishop Nienstedt acted ‘imprudently’ but not criminally under canon law

“Though the evidence available did not support a finding that any conduct on the part of Archbishop Nienstedt could be judged as a delict, it was communicated to me that several instances of ‘imprudent’ actions were brought to light,” Archbishop Hebda said, leading to the three administrative actions.


Catholic organizations urge prayer for Nicaragua amid crackdown on church

The Ortega-Murillo regime has prohibited processions and public expressions of piety, while police surreptitiously monitor priests’ homilies. “The most important thing we do in response to the sufferings of bishops, priests and faithful in Nicaragua is to pray,” said Father Roger J. Landry, ecclesiastical assistant to Aid to the Church in Need USA.


Manila’s first mega-procession of Black Nazarene after pandemic draws millions

The wooden statue, carved in Mexico and brought to Manila early in the 17th century, is cherished by Catholics, who believe that touching it can lead to a miracle.


As African bishops say no to same-sex blessings, French bishops will conduct them ‘generously’

Citing cultural differences and doctrinal confusion, the bishops’ conferences across Africa ruled that same-sex blessings will not be carried out in the continent. Meanwhile, the French bishops’ conference gave a green light to “generously bless” same-sex couples, furtherly generating a clear line between Western countries and the global south in their reception of a bombshell declaration issued Dec. 18.


Catholic publisher pulls priest’s book over plagiarism

Loyola Press announced Jan. 10 it would pull from publication “60 Seconds for Jesus” by Father Jim Sichko, a priest of the Diocese of Lexington, Kentucky, and a papal Missionary of Mercy known for his motivational talks, generous donations and active social and mainstream media presence, following allegations the priest who wrote it had plagiarized material.


Aiming to live and work better in 2024? Look to monks

Monks “saw your attention as something that wasn’t just about telling yourself to try harder,” said Jamie Kreiner, a history professor at the University of Georgia and author of “The Wandering Mind: What Medieval Monks Tell Us About Distraction.” “You have to see your mind as being tied to all these different layers of experience. So you had to think first about what your goals were and what you wanted from the world. And you had to make decisions about what to say no to, or cut out of your life.”


Media Notebook: Norman Lear and Maude’s Abortion

Jesuit Father Patrick J. Sullivan and Robert Beusse were not intent on launching an early battle in the culture wars when they met with CBS President Robert Wood the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1972. They were simply out to prevent a summer rerun.


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