Program #0151 for Thursday, October 6, 2011: Life issues, capital punishment, new Roman Missal, Faithful Citizenship

October 6, 2011

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

Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, executive editor of The Anchor, the newspaper of the Fall River diocese; and 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: Life issues; Capital punishment; New Roman Missal; Faithful Citizenship

Summary of today’s show: Scot and Susan consider the news of the day with Fr. Roger Landry and Gregory Tracy, including Respect Life Sunday; federal efforts to undermine New Hampshire’s defunding of Planned Parenthood; renewed emphasis on Catholic teaching on the death penalty; an explanation of why the words of the Mass are changing from one of the chief architects of the change; the adopt-a-priest prayer apostolate; the US bishops’ guidance on faithful citizenship; and the death of the archbishop who wore combat boots.

1st segment: Scot said the Catholic Media Secretariat gathered with Cardinal Seán this morning to pray for the success of media evangelization. Susan said the Cardinal spoke beautifully of All Souls Day marking the first anniversary of WQOM.

This past Sunday was Respect Life Sunday. Also Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, leader of the international committee on English in the Liturgy that provides the new translations of the Roman Missal was in Boston last week. Plus other local and national news stories.

2nd segment: Scot said Respect Life Sunday was marked by a Mass at the Cathedral with Bishop Hennessey this past Sunday. He said the protection of life was not first among equals of issues; it is first. He also called for consistency on this issue. Susan said he emphasized how God is merciful. Scot said Bishop Henessey is an apostle of the confessional. After the Mass was a 5-kilometer walk from Boston Common as a fundraiser for pro-life causes. Greg said he noticed this year that pro-life expanded beyond abortion to many new threats to life on many fronts, including assisted suicide. Fr. Roger said his parishioners who went to the walk were buoyed by seeing that they are not alone in the pro-life witness. They noted the push for assisted suicide in the Commonwealth. With abortion, we’re trying to push back a law legalizing abortion, but with assisted suicide we’re trying to prevent it in the first place, which is always easier. Scot said there were 4 speakers on Boston Common, including 18-year-old Sean Harrington.

Scot said another story concerns New Hampshire’s attempt to end government funding of PLanned Parenthood in the state. In return, the Obama administration is undermining the authority of the local executive council to parcel out federal funding by mandating it directly to Planned Parenthood. Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary for health and human services, and President Obama are trampling on the rights of taxpayers and states. Fr. Roger said they are not championing choice, but are championing abortion.

In the Pilot this week is a second column in the Project Rachel series of anonymous testimonials from women who’ve had abortion and received assistance in post-abortion healing. Scot said it’s some of the most powerful writing he’s seen in the Pilot. Susan said this woman’s statement that as an 18-year-old rape victim, she didn’t think she had a choice or didn’t deserve to have a baby was very chilling.

3rd segment: Scot said one of the many aspects of being pro-life is our stance on capital punishment. While the Catechism is not unilaterally opposed to capital punishment, do we need to be putting people to death in this day and age.

Greg said it deals with this issue of capital punishment because while the Church has historically supported capital punishment, that thinking has evolved over the years so that the death penalty is not the best option. Our methods of incarceration have changed so that the case that we need to put someone to death to protect society has been mostly defused.

Scot read the Church’s teaching that is in the Catechism:

2258 “Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being.”56
2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.
“If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.
“Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]

Fr. Roger said what drives support for death penalty in the US, even among Catholics, is a sense that the justice system doesn’t result in justice all the time. For example, stories of criminals getting off on a technicality or being released after light sentences. He said if we’re able to have a life sentence really mean a life sentence, then support for the death penalty will go down. He said there is a frustration among pro-lifers of a conflation of abortion, euthanasia, and death penalty. Abortion and euthanasia are always wrong, while the death penalty has even been used by the Church. In the First World, the need for the death penalty has been reduced almost to nihility. But there are cases, such as perhaps in cases of men like Osama bin Laden or Saddam Hussein, where having them living even with a life sentence would allow them to continue their depredations through others.

Scot said it does seem that while it’s a different issue from abortion, too often people who are anti-abortion but are pro-death penalty—with language that is based on revenge—that it opens up pro-lifers to accusations of hypocrisy.

4th segment: Scot said Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth, executive director of the International Commission on English in the Liturgy, which oversaw the 10-year effort to re-translate the Roman Missal, was in Boston last week. He said 75% of Catholics still don’t know that we will be changing the words of Mass as of November 27. Susan said in her parish they’ve been practicing some of the new responses in Mass.

Msgr. Wadsworth anticipated some who would say the translation is now more formal by saying that the English-language missal will be used in 11 countries where the formal form of English is more common while causal English is very different. therefore, perhaps we use the more elevated language to make it more uniform and approachable. Greg said there are moments in life where there should be more ceremony and more solemnity in order to have greater gravity and reverence.

Msgr. said the Mass will be richer and more beautiful as we adjust to these changes. Fr. Roger said it will help us to appreciate God’s majesty more through the poetic structure of the language. When we read Shakespeare, there is an awe of what it says. The same way we will have a sense of awe. People will also be able to see the clarity between what we hear in the prayers of the Mass and the words of sacred Scripture. The words of the Mass will now more accurately reflect the biblical verses from which they come.

Scot also noted that the Serra Club announced its third annual adopt-a-priest Mass. The Serra Club lets people volunteer to pray for a particular Boston priest for a whole year. The Mass will be celebrated at the Cathedral on October 22 at 10am with Cardinal Seán. The Mass will be for the Feast Day Mass for Blessed John Paul II and papal biographer George Weigel will also speak.

Scot said another article in the Pilot is a profile of the 13 men who recently were ordained permanent deacons. The article lists their varied occupations and family situations. For the first time, Cardinal Seán has given the deacons both a primary parish assignment and a secondary assignment with one of the central ministries.

On another story about “youth across the world armed with Mary’s Rosary this October” in the Anchor, Fr. Roger noted that October is traditionally the month of the Rosary. This based on the historic Battle of Lepanto centuries ago in which the Rosary prayer was a key to victory over the Turks who were attempting to invade Europe.

5th segment: Fr. Roger said the new CatholicVote app lets citizens contact their representative and senators and where the stand on issues. It comes from the same programmers who created the “Confession” app.

Scot said the US bishops have re-issued the document “Faithful Citizenship,” which they issued in 2007, but with a new introduction by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York. Susan said the new introduction re-emphasizes that there is a hierarchy of issues that Catholics must consider.

Fr. Roger said re-issuing the document helps Catholics study this document anew instead of getting the message that somehow the Church’s teachings have changed. It’s an opportunity to really educate our consciences so we do everything in the name of the Lord.

Scot noted that Archbishop Hannan, the nation’s third-oldest living bishop, died in New Orleans last week. He was the eulogist at John F. Kennedy’s funeral. Greg recalled meeting the Archbishop a couple of years ago. He noted that the archbishop was a paratrooper in World War II and did a lot to help New Orleans rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

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