October 25, 2023 // National

News Briefs: October 29, 2023

Synod to Issue ‘Letter to the People of God’

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – According to Vatican officials, members of the Synod of Bishops will issue a “Letter to the People of God” at the close of the first session of the synod assembly, which is scheduled to end on Sunday, October 29. The drafting of the letter was to be discussed both during small group working sessions and among the entire assembly on Monday, October 23, after a Mass for synod participants in St. Peter’s Basilica, officials with the synod’s general secretariat announced on Thursday, October 19. Officials added that additional time will be made for synod participants to discuss the methodology and steps for the next phase of the synodal process to take place between the first session’s close on October 29 and the second session scheduled to take place at the Vatican in October of 2024. The officials said the assembly’s synthesis document will not be presented to and discussed by synod participants in two parts as originally indicated on the synod’s schedule. Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, Relator General of the assembly, was scheduled to present the outline for the synod’s synthesis document to participants, including Bishop Rhoades, on Wednesday, October 25.

Christians Appeal as Gaza Church Campus Destroyed in Attack

JERUSALEM (OSV News) – An explosion at the St. Porphyrios Greek Orthodox Church campus in Gaza has left the administration building in ruins, and at least 17 people dead. Several hundred people had been sheltering at the church complex, many of them sleeping, when the explosion went off on the night of Thursday, October 19. Built in approximately 1150, St. Porphyrios is one of the oldest churches in Gaza. The day after the blast, Latin Patriarchate CEO Sami El-Yousef wrote on his Facebook page that, at the time of his writing, 10 people had been reported dead and 20 missing, with many more injured. “Our prayers are with our people in Gaza,” he wrote. “Please, God, end this madness now!” The Latin Patriarchate said on its Facebook page that it “declares solidarity and stands” with its sister Orthodox Church “in these difficult moments.” An Associated Press report quoted Mohammed Abu Selmia, Director General of Shifa Hospital, that dozens had been injured in the blast but a precise death toll was not yet available because bodies were still under the rubble. In an October 19 statement, the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem expressed its “strongest condemnation” of what it said was an Israeli attack on the church property and emphasized that “targeting churches and their institutions, along with the shelters they provide to protect innocent citizens … constitutes a war crime.”

Pope to Celebrate Memorial Mass for Pope Benedict XVI

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis will celebrate a memorial Mass for Pope Benedict XVI and cardinals and bishops who have died in the past year on Friday, November 3, Vatican officials announced. The Mass will take place at the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica at 11 a.m. in Rome. Pope Benedict died December 31, 2022, at the age of 95. On Thursday, November 2, the feast of All Souls, the pope will celebrate Mass at the Rome War Cemetery, the burial place of members of the military forces of the Commonwealth who died during and immediately after World War II. Also on the pope’s liturgical calendar for November is his celebration of Mass for the World Day of the Poor. He will preside over the liturgy on Sunday, November 19, at St. Peter’s Basilica.

At Synod Prayer Service, Pope Calls for Immigration Reform

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Taking to heart the lesson of the parable of the good Samaritan is the key to assisting the millions of migrants and refugees forced to travel far from their homelands and often exploited along the way, Pope Francis said on Thursday, October 19, as he led members of the synod on synodality in praying for migrants and refugees. “The road leading from Jerusalem to Jericho was not a safe route, just as today the many migration routes that traverse deserts, forests, rivers, and seas are not safe,” the pope said. “How many of our brothers and sisters find themselves today in the same condition as the traveler in the parable?” the pope asked. “How many are robbed, stripped and beaten along the way?” The evening prayer service took place around “Angels Unawares,” a sculpture by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz that has stood in St. Peter’s Square since 2019. The bronze boat is filled with 140 figures depicting migrants from various historical periods and various nations.

Justice Amy Coney Barrett Backs SCOTUS Ethics Code

MINNEAPOLIS (OSV News) – Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett indicated on Monday, October 16, that she would support adopting a formal code of ethics for jurists on the high court. Barrett’s comments follow allegations of gifts received or other improper financial activities by some of her colleagues. All federal judges other than the justices on the high court must adhere to a formal ethics code, but the Supreme Court, which is the only federal court created by the Constitution, is not included in that code. Justices on the high court are subject to legislation requiring annual financial disclosures, limiting their income earned outside the court. Critics of the court have called for it to adopt a formal code of ethics. In remarks at a University of Minnesota Law School event that was briefly interrupted by protesters of the court’s 2022 decision reversing Roe v. Wade, Barrett argued an ethics code would formalize the justice’s efforts at transparency. “I think it would be a good idea for us to do it, particularly so that we can communicate to the public exactly what it is that we’re doing – and in a clearer way than perhaps we have been able to do so far,” said Barrett, a former law professor at the University of Notre Dame. “I will say this, there is no lack of consensus among the justices – there is unanimity among all nine justices – that we should, and do, hold ourselves to the … highest ethical standards possible.”

Pope Calls for Release of Hostages in Gaza

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis called for the release of Israeli hostages held in Gaza and spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden to discuss the humanitarian crisis and the need to de-escalate violence in the region. “I renew my appeal for spaces to be opened, for humanitarian aid to continue to arrive, and for the hostages to be freed,” the pope said after praying the Angelus on Sunday, October 22, with 20,000 people in St. Peter’s Square. Some 200 hostages were taken into Gaza by Hamas during its coordinated attack on Israel on Saturday, October 7, which killed more than 1,400 people. On Tuesday, October 17, a deadly blast at the Al-Ahli Arab Hospital in Gaza, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Jerusalem, killed at least 471 people, according people representing the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza. The militant group blamed the Israeli Defense Forces for the strike, while a spokesperson for the National Security Council said the U.S. government assessed that Israel was not responsible for the explosion.

Palestinians carry a wounded man following Israeli strikes on houses in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip Oct. 17, 2023. (OSV News photo/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, Reuters)

* * *

The best news. Delivered to your inbox.

Subscribe to our mailing list today.