Program #0131 for Thursday, September 8, 2011: 9/11 anniversary; Msgr. Robert Deeley; assisted suicide petition; Catholic school year starts; Archbishop Chaput’s installation

September 8, 2011

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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Susan Abbott

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston archdiocese

  • The Anchor
  • The Pilot
  • Some of the stories discussed on this show will be available on The Pilot’s and The Anchor’s websites on Friday morning. Please check those sites for the latest links.

Today’s topics: 9/11 anniversary; Msgr. Robert Deeley; assisted suicide petition; Catholic school year starts; Archbishop Chaput’s installation

Summary of today’s show: Gregory Tracy and Susan Abbott discuss the news of the week with Scot, including this week’s anniversary of 9/11 and Catholic reflections on the events and their aftermath; an extensive Pilot interview with Msgr. RObert Deeley, the new vicar general; an assisted suicide ballot initiative; the always promising beginning of the Catholic school year; and the homily of Archbishop Charles Chaput at his installation Mass in Philadelphia.

1st segment: Scot noted that today is the birthday of the Blessed Mother. Fr. Sean Carey, the only priest of the archdiocese who is deaf, celebrated the 12:05 pm Mass at the Pastoral Center for this feast. Susan Abbott said she had a workshop today for a total of more than 100 people on the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults.

2nd segment: Scot noted that Fr. Roger Landry is traveling, but welcomed Greg Tracy to the show. He said that there’s an article in the Pilot this week which excerpts remarks from Cardinal Sean’s Blog in which the Cardinal reflects on the events and aftermath of 9/11. He starts by describing where he was when he heard about the attacks, at a meeting of the US bishops’ conference. They went immediately across the street to the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for a Mass for the victims. Then he told the story of how he tried to get back to Fall River from Washington, DC. He eventually rented a car with some others. Scot said Cardinal Sean reflects that 9/11 reflected the best and worst of who we are as humanity and also that we all came together to pray. Susan said in her parish they put a notice on the parish website for a prayer service that evening and people began coming back every night to pray. Susan said they had people come to RCIA and other adult formation because of their experience of 9/11.

Fr. Roger in his editorial reflected on the lessons of 9/11. The events reawakened most Americans to four fundamental realities in the world: of evil in the world; that death comes for us all; the heroism of first responders and others who risked their lives; and the reality of God. He refers to the Imitation of Christ and its advice: “In every deed and every thought, act as if you die this day.” It helps to bring us back to our roots and our purpose in this life.

Susan quoted a famous line that the Devil’s biggest trick is to convince us that he or evil doesn’t exist. But she also went to the Prologue of the Gospel of John that the Light shines in the darkness and darkness has not overcome it.

Fr. Roger’s ends with:

Some, succumbing to the perennial temptation about why God doesn’t stop all evil, asked where God was on 9/11. Fr. James Martin, SJ, responded that on 9/11 God was offering us a parable. As he was ministering to the wounded at a Manhattan hospital, Fr. Martin looked around at the rescue workers and realized, “God is like the firefighter who rushes into a burning building to save someone. That’s how much God loves us. And I saw this love expressed in the great charity of all the rescue workers who gathered at the American Golgotha.”

Fr. Roger said that the Ground Zero Cross is a sign that evil doesn’t have the last word. He ends by suggesting the most fitting way to mark the anniversary is to pray: “… prayer for our country, that we may be strong, courageous and persevering in our opposition to terrorism and other evils; for all our civil leaders and those who are on the front lines in protecting us in the military, police departments, intelligence services and homeland security; for all those who lost loved ones ten years ago; for the salvation of all those who had died; and for the conversion of the terrorists and the cultures that spawn them. And we should make this prayer silently as individuals, as we will at 1 pm on Sunday with Church bells tolling throughout the land. We should make it with our families at home, in living rooms and perhaps exceptionally before television sets. And we should make it in our Churches where we enter into the mystery both of the Cross and of the Resurrection for which the Cross is the prelude.”

The Pilot this week reprints the editorial from the newspaper on September 14, 2001, written by Msgr. Peter Conley, who was the editor-in-chief at the time. The current editor, Antonio Enrique, started with the Pilot that very day, 9/11. They reprinted the editorial because it captures the fear and outrage, but also prophetically outlined the issues that our country would have to grapple with from that time.

Scot quoted the editorial which noted that Americans were too complacent in their security before these attacks. But Msgr. Conley also ended by saying, “Evil must be named and confronted for what it is — the opposite of a God Who is love.”

3rd segment: Scot said on September 1, Msgr. Robert Deeley began his service to the Archdiocese as vicar general. In this week’s Pilot, Msgr. Deeley gives a lengthy interview on his background, his early assignments in the Archdiocese, and then his work in Rome. He also spoke of his hopes and vision for his service and assessed the situation of the Archdiocese today.

Greg said he was most interested by Msgr. Deeley’s background and upbringing because it gave him a sense of him as a person beyond his curriculum vitae as a priest from the early 1990s on. Greg said he felt he was immensely grounded with a wide breadth of experience in parishes, in the chancery, and working in the Curia in Rome. He also was struck by how much he spoke about evangelization and how he sees that as a central part of his mission.

Scot said Msgr. Deeley has had three different stints in Rome: as a seminarian; studying canon law; and then for eight years working for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Susan said she was struck by his sense of the universality of the Church, especially from his time in Rome. He later said Boston is not unique and the issues we’re dealing with are shared by other people. She was also touched by his sense of obedience and fidelity. When he was aksed by Cardinal Sean, there was no other answer but to say Yes, out of fidelity to his promise.

Scot said no young priest seeks to be a vicar general. Some priests may aspire to become a bishop, but a vicar general deals with every problem in the diocese before it lands on the bishop’s desk. He said he has been moved by Msgr. Deeley’s faith in the one week since he’s been in the Pastoral Center. Susan said we haven’t changed our goals as a Church, to bring the faith to those who do not know it and to encourage and form those who do.

Scot also noted that one question asked him whether he was thinking of significant changes. Msgr. Deeley said he will meet with those work for the Church and priests, but it’s really Cardinal Sean who sets the direction. On Pastoral Planning, he said one of the problems of Reconfiguration in 2004 was the swiftness with which it was done. He said the current committee working on pastoral planning is very good and while these things can be painful, he believes people need to be heard and have the ability to enter into the process.

Greg said one of his favorites quotes of the whole interview was that now he’d accepted the position, he told the Lord, “Now it’s up to you to give me the strength.”

Greg said there will be even more content in the online version that is available on

4th segment: Scot said that yesterday Attorney General Martha Coakley certified a ballot initiative in support of the so-called Massachusetts Death with Dignity Act. The Mass. bishops want to form and inform about the inherent evil in assisted suicide as well as worse results. The bishops say in a statement:

“We cannot allow for the possibility that government agencies or insurance companies will have an influence on the decision as to whether or not a person’s life is worthy of being sustained.”

Greg said this petition is not unexpected and both the Anchor and the Pilot have been writing about this in recent weeks. He thinks the bishops will come out very strongly on this issue because of the slippery slope. He said the bishops quote their 1995 statement: “For once a society allows one individual to take the life of another based on their private standards of what constitutes a life worth living, even when there is mutual agreement, there can be no safe or sure way to contain its possible consequences.”

Greg said evil is always presented as a good by its proponents. They phrase this as the need to “help” someone to die. But once you don’t have a right to life, you don’t have a right to anything.

Scot said polls show that across the US, whatever their political affiliation or ideology, people don’t trust government, but laws like this would give the power of life and death to third parties. Proponents have used euphemisms to put a little bit of frosting on an evil cake.

Susan said you just have to look at other countries that have preceded us down the slippery slope to see where we are going and to see how basic rights have been lost. She encouraged listeners to see the US bishops’ website for more resources. Scot encouraged all to inform their representatives of their views on this issue.

Moving on to other topics, the Pilot has an article on the beginning of the school year for Catholic years. The Archdiocese’s school has 42,000+ students, making it the second-largest school system in the Commonwealth after Boston. Superintendent Mary Grassa-O’Neill talks in the article that they have been working with school principals and to help schools develop their Catholicity, academic achievement, and fiscal strength. In addition, Boston College is working with the Archdiocese to help develop a technology strategy for Catholic schools.

Just concluded moments ago was the installation Mass of Archbishop Charles Chaput as archbishop of Philadelphia. Scot said it is the most significant appointment of a bishop in recent years because of the problems in Philadelphia right now. He quoted the archbishop’s homily:

A married friend told me last week that getting together for today reminded him of planning for a very, very, very big wedding. He was being humorous, but he was actually more accurate than he knew. The relationship of a bishop and his local Church — his diocese — is very close to a marriage. The ring I wear is a symbol of every bishop’s love for his Church. And a bishop’s marriage to the local Church reminds me, and all of us who serve you as bishops, that a bishop is called to love his Church with all his heart, just as Christ loved her and gave his life for her.

Of course, my appointment to Philadelphia is an arranged marriage, and the Holy Father is the matchmaker. …

In the Church, we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the decisions of the Holy Father. And the results are always joyful if we commit our wills to cooperating with God’s plan. For any marriage to work, two things need to happen. People need to fall in love, and together they need to be fruitful. That’s what we need to dedicate ourselves to today – to love one another and be fruitful together for the new evangelization.

Greg noted that the archbishop said the good news is that arranged marriages are statistically as likely to last as other marriages. He also said that in arranged marriages the couple come to know each other and then love each other. This is a response to any question asking why the Holy Father would send Archbishop Chaput to Philadelphia despite having no previous connection to eastern Pennsylvania.

Scot also quoted the homily:

My dear brother bishops, it’s crucial for those of us who are bishops not simply to look like bishops but to truly be bishops.

He ended the homily thus:

This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There’s no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord Himself, is a miracle worker. But it’s important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures. And you and I are not defined by our critics or by those who dislike us. What we do in the coming months and years to respond to these challenges – that will define who we really are. And in engaging that work, we need to be Catholics first, and always. Jesus Christ is the center of our lives, and the Church is our mother and teacher. Everything we do should flow from that. …

Whatever my weaknesses (and they’re many) and whatever my lacks (and they’re many too), no bishop will give more of himself than I will to renewing this great Church. No bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage our priests, and restore the hearts of our people. And everything I’ve learned in my 24 years as a bishop and 41 years as a priest, and everything I have, I will give to this ministry, because all of you — the people of God entrusted to my care — deserve it, and I love you.

Scot said this is why he has so many fans across the country who look to him for guidance and clarity even though he’s never been their bishop. He noted that Cardinal Sean and Archbishop Chaput were seminary classmates as well.

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