Caritas, Catholic Relief Services call for end of fossil fuel extraction by 2050 (National Catholic Reporter) Caritas Internationalis, the Church’s confederation of relief and development agencies, joined 13 other Catholic organizations in calling for an end to fossil fuel extraction by 2050, according to the National Catholic Reporter.
“One thing is clear: To have a decent chance of holding to the 1.5 °C limit, fossil fuel extraction must begin to decline immediately, phase down rapidly in the coming decades, and cease worldwide by 2050,” the signatories of the letter said in a letter to Sultan al-Jaber, president of COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Caritas member agencies that signed the letter include Catholic Relief Services (US), CAFOD (England and Wales), SCIAF (Scotland), and Misereor (Germany).
Climate is top priority, Pope tells new envoys (Vatican Press Office) As he greeted new ambassadors to the Holy See on December 7, Pope Francis said that “the See is particularly concerned for the future of our common home and specifically the effects of climate change and the devastation of the natural environment on the most vulnerable members of our human family.”
The Pope told the new envoys from Chad, Guinea, Kuwait, Malawi, New Zealand, and Sweden that the world “urgently demands a reconfiguration of multilateral diplomacy.”
Brazilian bishops' commission: Israel is committing a 'true genocide' in Gaza (Crux) The Brazilian bishops’ conference’s Justice and Peace Commission has released a letter, signed by more than 100 Catholic and other organizations, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people.
Citing the “terrifying percentage of children, women and the elderly” killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza, the letter described the attacks as a “true genocide.”
“In tune with Pope Francis and with the cry of so many Catholics and activists in Brazil, we wished to manifest our concern with the Palestinian people and our solidarity to them,” said Daniel Seidel, who leads the commission. “We couldn’t remain silent only to avoid problems with conservative groups. In times of synodality, we have been more and more looking for ways to be able to express ourselves.”
The Brazilian bishops’ commission’s statement has added significance because Brazil has more Catholics than any other nation.
USCCB decries Biden administration's proposed changes to federal grant agreements (USCCB) The Office of the General Counsel of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops warned that the Biden administration’s proposed changes to guidance on federal grant agreements would elevate contested interpretations of federal law on sexual orientation and gender identity over constitutional rights such as free speech and religious liberty.
The proposed changes are “arbitrary and capricious from top to bottom,” the USCCB warned. They are “arbitrary and capricious for deleting, without explanation, references to free speech, religious liberty, public welfare, and the environment ... The deletion of references to free speech and religious liberty is especially concerning.”
“In sum, the proposed changes ... would be reasonably interpreted to mean that OMB [the Office of Management and Budget] cares about prohibiting SOGI [sexual orientation and gender identity] discrimination more than discrimination on the basis of race, sex, national origin, disability, or any other class protected under federal law; more than promoting the public welfare or protecting the environment; and more than preventing unlawful suppression of free speech or religious exercise,” the USCCB continued.
“It is common for Catholic ministries to partner with the government in their efforts to serve those most in need,” the USCCB added. The proposed changes would “chill Catholic entities’ participation in federal programs, potentially depriving the intended beneficiaries of those programs of the excellent care and service that Catholic ministries provide.”
New spire raised over Notre Dame in Paris (Brussels Times) A new spire, surmounted by a cross, has been raised over the basilica of Notre Dame, replacing the spire that was destroyed by fire in 2019.
The spire, reaching to a height of over 300 feet, is identical in design to the one it replaced. The new structure was finished two days before a scheduled visit by French President Emmanuel Macron, and one year before the date—December 8, 2024—when Notre Dame will be formally opened for worship once again.
Irish bishops issue cautious statement on racial conflicts (RTE) The Catholic bishops of Ireland have issued a measured statement on recent riots in Dublin, urging opposition to “all forms of racism, violence, division, hatred, misinformation, and fear.”
Responding to the riots that erupted in Dublin after several people were seriously wounded in a knifing attack by an Algerian immigrant, the bishops called for “a culture of encounter toward immigrants, immigrant communities, and Irish society. They encouraged parishes “where immigrants are making a positive and vibrant contribution.”
Pope renews prayers for war-torn countries (CNS) At the conclusion of his December 6 audience, Pope Francis called for prayers for those suffering from war, particularly in Ukraine, Israel, and Palestine, and reiterated his oft-repeated sentiment that war is always a defeat for humanity, with arms manufacturers the only ones to profit from war.
Saying that he was feeling much better but still struggling from the effects of illness, the Pontiff asked an aide to read his Wednesday catechesis. Nonetheless, he personally made the appeal for prayer for peace.
The Pope’s words about peace were not included in the Vatican’s English translation of his remarks.
US bishops tabled sensitive statement on indigenous peoples (Pillar) At a November meeting, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops moved into executive session to discuss a proposed pastoral statement on pastoral work with indigenous peoples, then tabled the statement.
The Pillar reports that the statement, which included an apology for the Church’s treatment of Native Americans, may have raised concerns about legal liability.
Pope calls world leaders to end divisions to fight climate change (CNS) Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Holy See’s Secretary of State, traveled to Dubai to deliver the Pope’s address to COP28, the 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
Pope Francis had been scheduled to deliver the December 2 address in person, but cancelled his trip because of a bronchial ailment.
“I am with you to raise the question which we must answer now: Are we working for a culture of life or a culture of death?” the Pontiff wrote. “To all of you I make this heartfelt appeal: Let us choose life! Let us choose the future! May we be attentive to the cry of the earth, may we hear the plea of the poor, may we be sensitive to the hopes of the young and the dreams of children!”
During his address, Pope Francis criticized the ideology of population control.
“Particularly striking in this regard are the attempts made to shift the blame onto the poor and high birth rates,” he said. “These are falsities that must be firmly dispelled.”
“It is not the fault of the poor, since the almost half of our world that is more needy is responsible for scarcely 10% of toxic emissions, while the gap between the opulent few and the masses of the poor has never been so abysmal,” he continued. “The poor are the real victims of what is happening ... Births are not a problem, but a resource: they are not opposed to life, but for life, whereas certain ideological and utilitarian models now being imposed with a velvet glove on families and peoples constitute real forms of colonization.”
Italian progressive, conservative writers agree: Pope Francis made unprecedented claim about papal power (Crux) Leading Italian Catholic journalists from different ends of the ecclesial spectrum agree that Pope Francis made unprecedented claims about the papacy’s temporal authority in the new Fundamental Law of Vatican City State, issued in May in Italian and still untranslated by Vatican officials into other languages.
The Pope is “called by virtue of the munus petrinum [Petrine ministry] to exercise sovereign powers over the Vatican City State,” Pope Francis wrote.
Sandro Magister commented that “in reality, in the doctrine of the Catholic Church, the munus petrinum that Jesus conferred on the first of the apostles has nothing to do with any temporal power.” Alberto Melloni, associated with the progressive or liberal interpretation of the Second Vatican Council, agreed: “Not even the most tenacious defenders of temporal power have ever maintained that it was conferred on Peter consistent with the primacy and infallibility defined by the First Vatican Council.”
Turning to the Vatican financial trial, John Allen of Crux wrote that “a series of ad-hoc papal decrees” has “stacked the deck in favor of the prosecution to such an extent as to raise serious doubts about due process, arguably standing in contrast with both Catholic social teaching as well as international conventions on human rights to which the Vatican itself has subscribed.”
Melloni “suggests that the only real parallel to what’s going on now reaches back almost 500 years, when Pope Paul IV in 1557 had Cardinal Giovanni Morone imprisoned in Rome’s Castel Sant’Angelo and put on trial on charges of heresy for his alleged sympathy for the Lutherans,” Allen added.
House Judiciary Committee releases report on 'weaponization of law enforcement' against Catholics (House Judiciary Committee) The FBI “singled out Americans who are pro-life, pro-family, and support the biological basis for sex and gender distinction as potential domestic terrorists,” the House Judiciary Committee charged on December 4 as it released a 29-page interim staff report, “The FBI’s Breach of Religious Freedom: The Weaponization of Law Enforcement Against Catholic Americans.”
“The Committee on the Judiciary and the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government have been investigating the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s categorization of certain Catholic Americans as potential domestic terrorists,” the Judiciary Committee stated, as it discussed its investigation into a leaked and retracted memo from the FBI’s Richmond office warning against “radical traditionalist Catholic ideology.”
“While the FBI claims it ‘does not categorize investigations as domestic terrorism based on the religious beliefs—to include Catholicism—of the subject involved,’ an FBI-wide memorandum originating from the FBI’s Richmond Field Office did just that,” the Judiciary Committee said.
“The FBI’s Richmond memorandum is a startling reminder that Americans’ civil liberties and core Constitutional rights must be vigorously guarded against government overreach, including in this case from an overzealous federal law enforcement agency,” the Committee continued. “Not only did the FBI propose to develop sources, but it already interviewed a priest and choir director affiliated with a Catholic church in Richmond, Virginia for the memorandum.”
“Most concerning of all, without the disclosure of the whistleblower, the Richmond memorandum would still be operative in FBI systems, violating the religious liberties of millions of Catholic Americans,” the Committee added.