WASHINGTON (OSV News) – “Wonder,” a five-part documentary series from Word on Fire set for release Feb.13-17, shows that “the war between faith and science is untrue,” said Word on Fire founder Bishop Robert E. Barron of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota. Narrated by actor Jonathan Roumie, the episodes explore the nature of light, Trinitarian traces in the cosmos, human and animal language, St. Augustine and evolution, and even theology of salvation suggested by the geometry of Chartres Cathedral’s North Rose Window in Chartres, France. Director Manny Marquez, who said his own faith was deepened by the project, told OSV News the films are “an opportunity to make a difference in the conversation” between faith and science.

WASHINGTON (OSV News) – Cardinal Wilton D. Gregory of Washington urged “ordinary people of color” to “vastly improve our world with an understanding of the strength of character that resides within the souls of our people.” In his homily during a Feb. 5 Mass in honor of Black History Month, the cardinal said, “We are chosen by none other than the Lord, the light of the world himself; we have no choice but to be an example to the world.” In the day’s Gospel reading from Matthew (5:13-16), Jesus refers to his disciples as the salt of the earth and the light of the world. “Many have suffered martyrdom as the price of their witness and those who do become salt and light may become the subject of ridicule,” Cardinal Gregory said. “But we need ordinary faith-filled people like yourselves to allow your lights to shine – however small … to illuminate the darkness of this world.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis expressed his “spiritual closeness” and “solidarity” with those affected by a pair of powerful earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria Feb. 6. A 7.8 magnitude earthquake as measured by the U.S. Geological Survey hit southern Turkey before dawn Feb. 6 wreaking havoc in large areas of neighboring Syria. It was followed by what the geological survey said was a separate 7.5 magnitude earthquake, less than 12 hours later some 60 miles away. The day after, ABC News was reporting that more than 7,000 people were killed while hundreds remained trapped under the rubble of toppled buildings. The Catholic charity Aid to the Church in need said a Catholic priest was among the dead in Syria. Father Imad Daher died in the collapse of the residence of retired Melkite Archbishop Jean-Clement Jeanbart of Aleppo, who was injured and hospitalized, the charity said. Pope Francis was “deeply saddened” to learn of the “huge loss of life” caused by the disaster and offered his “heartfelt condolences” to those mourning losses, wrote Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Vatican secretary of state, in telegrams to the Vatican’s ambassadors in Turkey and Syria. The pope also prayed that emergency personnel would “be sustained in their care of the injured and in the ongoing relief efforts by the divine gifts of fortitude and perseverance.”

VATICAN CITY (CNS) – The principal task of the continental assemblies and the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops in 2023 and 2024 is to learn and strengthen a process of listening as a church to the Holy Spirit and not to address all the issues being debated in the church, top officers of the synod said. The theme that Pope Francis has chosen for the general assembly “is clear: ‘For a synodal church: communion, participation, mission.’ This is therefore the sole theme that we are called to explore in each of the stages within the process,” their letter to bishops said. “Those who claim to impose any one theme on the synod forget the logic that governs the synod process: we are called to chart a ‘common course’ beginning with the contribution of all,” said the letter, published Jan. 29, and signed by Cardinals Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, and Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, relator general of the synod. Addressed to the world’s bishops, the letter focused on the current “continental” stage of the synodal process, and the role of the bishop in the synodal process. The bishops, “in your particular churches, are the principle and foundation of unity of the holy people of God,” they said, and “there is no exercise of ecclesial synodality without exercise of episcopal collegiality.”

This is the logo for World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal, which takes place Aug. 1-6, 2023. One issue surrounding every WYD perpetually makes headlines months before the event: that of costs. (OSV News photo/CNS file, Holy See Press Office)

LISBON, Portugal (OSV News) – One issue involving World Youth Day perpetually makes headlines months before the event: that of costs. The event taking place Aug. 1-6, 2023, in Lisbon, Portugal. As reported by Reuters, Lisbon’s mayor, Carlos Moedas, was sharply criticized on Portuguese social media after it was revealed his office would spend over over $5.4 million (5 million euros) to build a 54,000-square foot altar for the final Mass of the August event. The expensive altar is not the only aspect that created controversy. In October, the Portuguese government announced that public institutions would spend around $190 million in WYD. On Jan. 31, after the uproar about the altar, the government led by socialist prime minister António Costa announced a reduction of the initial figure. But these costs may not be as astronomical as they seem? WYD is a major international event of the Catholic Church – one that brings together millions of young people from around the world to pray, learn and meet with the current pope for a handful of days every few years – and major events necessarily come with a significant price tag.