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Monday, December 6, 2021

Will North Park Woolworth's ever be renovated?


Coverage of Francis' trip to Cyprus and Greece here

Pope Francis chides world leaders for an 'indifference that kills'

Returning to Lesbos, the Greek island that has become a symbol of Europe's refugee crisis, Pope Francis on Dec. 5 chided world leaders for their "cynical disregard" of the plight of migrants. 

The pope's visit was brief and his message direct: Indifference kills. 

"Stop ignoring reality, stop constantly shifting responsibility, stop passing off the issue of migration to others, as if it mattered to no one and was only a pointless burden to be shouldered by somebody else," Francis pleaded during his return visit.  

As he spoke against a backdrop of refugee shelters along the shores of the Aegean Sea, Francis cited the global vaccination campaign and the fight against climate change, saying that while these efforts are at times stalled, he believes forward progress is being made.

"All this seems to be terribly absent when it comes to migration," he said. "Yet human lives, real people, are at stake!"

NCR Vatican correspondent Christopher White is traveling with the pope. Read his full report from Lesbos here

More background:

Migrants were asked, 'Why did you leave your home?' Here's what they said. 

NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters dives into the Hope Border Institute's new report on the root causes of immigration that shines a light on the humanitarian crisis at our southern border. "What led you to leave your home?" was the question posed to 51 migrants in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and the answers provide the basis of the report. 

The study found that Central Americans tend to migrate for a variety of reasons such as poverty, gang violence or domestic violence. Among the Mexicans they surveyed, violence and threats were the primary reason given for choosing to leave their homes, especially the forced conscription of young men into gangs run by drug cartels. The most shocking data point, says Winters, was that nearly 70% of the interviewees were extorted or threatened by a criminal organization or gang at some point in their life. 

"We in the U.S. are right to worry about the health of our democracy but perhaps helping these failing states to our south would be one way to recognize anew the preciousness of living under the rule of law," Winters writes. "Our police and legal systems have their problems, to be sure, but we are not a failed state."

You can read more of Winters' column here.

More headlines

  • In Malawi, dependence on firewood and charcoal as sources of income and for energy needs has led people in the world's fifth poorest country to chop down vast portions of the forest. To reduce deforestation, Carmelite Missionary Sisters are teaching women skills that will not further damage the forests. Read more at Global Sisters Report.

  • Rebecca Bratten Weiss interviews several Catholic parents who are concerned about the safety of their children at Catholic parishes and schools across the nation with lax COVID-19 protocols. 

  • ICYMI: The Orthodox patriarch of Jerusalem has posted a memo on the patriarchate website that appears to overturn a 45-year-old agreement with Western Christian churches to unify the celebration of Christian holidays.

Isaiah points to the hope and restoration

This week, the Supreme Court will consider another case involving public funding for sectarian schools. The First Amendment debates could look at the distinctions between religious identity and religious purpose.

Christians in Israel and Jordan have traditionally agreed to celebrate Christmas together on December 25. This year, it looks like the Eastern Orthodox have other plans that day.

An unprecedented Iranian Supreme Court ruling affirms that Christian house church gatherings are legal in the Muslim country, a sign of hope for believers in prison for their faith.

Side B Christians aren’t looking for evangelical churches to become affirming. But Bekah Mason says that the presence of same-sex attracted and gay believers—amid all the tension and debate—stands as a powerful witness and asset to the community.

Just as Roe v. Wade case faces a historic challenge, a new book pieces together the complicated story of the woman at the center of the landmark abortion case, Norma McCorvey, as well as her family.

It’s an especially busy season for ministry leaders. Here are 7 tips to avoid pastoral burnout.

In today’s Advent reading, Isaiah points to the hope and restoration we see made complete in Christ.

In other news

Australian Christians are mourning the death of linguist Cathy Bow, who catalogued aboriginal languages and coached missionaries in 72 countries.

Food poisoning at a church supper in England killed one woman and left dozens ill. The pub chef responsible for the shepherd’s pie has been sentenced to prison for violating food safety regulations.

Talk about worship music for two minutes, and you’ll get people defending hymns, psalms, and even the old pipe organ. You may not be able to find a church organist under retirement age, but the organ still has passionate defenders.

Pope comforts migrants at Lesbos

Pope comforts migrants at Lesbos refugee camp while urging action
Associated Press: "Let us stop ignoring reality, stop constantly shifting responsibility, stop passing off the issue of migration to others," Pope Francis said during a visit to the Greek island.
New York religious schools face a vaccine mandate. Will they fight it?*
The New York Times: Mayor Bill de Blasio set a vaccine mandate for religious and private schools. Jewish and Catholic leaders are frustrated, and some have predicted legal challenges.
New Truett Seminary master’s program combines agriculture, theology, social justice
Waco Tribune-Herald: Students pursuing a master’s in theology, ecology and food justice will spend most of their time at World Hunger Relief, a Christian nonprofit founded in 1979 where interns and volunteers gather to learn about agriculture and fight world hunger on a 40-acre demonstration farm.
Why India is witnessing spike in attacks on Christians, churches
Al Jazeera: Rights groups record more than 300 attacks on Christians and their religious places in the first nine months of this year.
Plumber reportedly finds cash and checks in walls of Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church
Religion News Service: Did a plumber just discover a new clue in a seven-year-old burglary case at the Houston-area megachurch?