Wednesday, August 24
1. Saving the Jordan River, place of Jesus’ baptism
2. Asian bishops stand up to authoritarian regimes
3. Future American Cardinal Robert McElroy pleads for women’s access to the diaconate
Saving the Jordan River, place of Jesus’ baptism
What is the condition of the Jordan River today? It’s a victim of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a victim of “people” and their rivalries, and a victim of “climate change.” This is the lament of Yana Abu Taleb, Jordanian director of EcoPeace Middle East, which brings together Jordanian, Palestinian, and Israeli environmentalists to save the river. The river, where according to tradition Christ was baptized, is in alarming decline, although the religious and historical appeal of the place where began “the world movement of Christianity” remains, says one pilgrim. For members of the activist movement, the rehabilitation of the river “is perhaps the only way to prevent further instability in the valley, (…) because it can create alternative revenues through tourism.” Despite the obstacles and the many criticisms, EcoPeace Middle East continues to call for regional collaboration on the Jordan River, denouncing the fact that it is reduced to an “ambition of statehood and sovereignty over water resources.” It’s a real challenge, but a vital one, as one pilgrim observes in front of the abused waters: “I’m sure God above is also sad.”
A ceremony was held in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, to open the General Conference of the Federation of Asian Bishops’ Conferences, a body celebrating its 50th anniversary. We are “called to be prophets of peace and evangelizers amidst suffocating clouds of conflict, hunger, authoritarian leadership that become the norm,” said Burmese Cardinal Charles Bo, president of the federation, who has been personally facing the return of military dictatorship in his country since the February 1, 2021, coup. A Liturgy of the Word was held on August 22 in preparation for the general conference of Asian bishops to be held in Bangkok from October 12 to 30, attended by 250 delegates from across the continent, with the aim of “reaffirming, renewing, and revitalizing” the Catholic Church in Asia. The 21st century can become the century of “Christian Asia” if Catholics persevere in their commitment to “the health, education, and development of their countries,” Cardinal Bo said at the ceremony.
Future American Cardinal Robert McElroy pleads for women’s access to the diaconate
The bishop of San Diego, a figure of the “progressive” wing of the American episcopate, will become the 16th cardinal in the history of the United States on August 27. It is a surprising choice by Pope Francis; while the archbishop of Los Angeles was tipped to become a cardinal because he presides over the bishops’ conference, Bishop McElroy is notably an advocate for the female diaconate, recalling that “more than two-thirds” of the participants in the Synod on Amazonia, in which he participated, were “in favor of ordaining women as deaconesses.” “My own view is that women should be included in any ministry that is not doctrinally precluded, and that’s the vast majority of the life of the Church, and deacons are one of those roles,” he explained to local media outlet NBC 7 San Diego. In his diocese, which is marked by a strong presence of Latin American families, women are very active in the parishes, where they hold “leadership” positions that are essential to the smooth running of the communities, he notes.
Religion Digital, Spanish