Program #0181 for Thursday, November 17, 2011: US bishops’ meeting; Ordinariate for Anglicans; Cardinal Seán’s pastoral letter

November 17, 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 Antonio Enrique, editor of The Pilot, the newspaper of the Boston archdiocese.

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Today’s topics: US bishops’ meeting; Ordinariate for Anglicans; Cardinal Seán’s pastoral letter

Summary of today’s show: Scot Landry and Susan Abbott were joined by Fr. Roger Landry and Antonio Enrique to discuss the news of the week, including Cardinal Seán has issued a pastoral letter asking for more participation in Sunday Mass; the US bishops met this week and religious freedom was a major topic; big developments for Anglicans and Episcopalians wishing to enter the Church en masse; a clarion call from Archbishop Dolan for bishops to model passionate love for Christ; the Marian Medal awards in Fall River; and other local stories

1st segment: Scot welcomed Susan back to the show. She said last night she was in Brighton for a workshop at the catechetical certificate course with parish catechists. She also did a workshop at Sacred Heart in Kingston this morning with catechists on the South Shore.

2nd segment: Scot and Susan welcome Antonio Enrique and Fr. Roger Landry back to the show. Scot said the US bishops have two annual gatherings, one in June and a second in November and the latter is in Baltimore. One of the main addresses this year was by Bishop Lori who is the chair of a new ad-hoc committee on religious liberty.

Fr. Roger said the US bishops have prioritized religious freedom. Bishop Lori gave a clarion call for why this is important to everything Catholic. There is a notion among secularists is that they’re doing us a favor by allowing us to practice our faith in our churches on Sunday and object to us when we want to live our faith in public. Not only have they worked in the courts to force us to take up their notion of marriage, for instance, and then force Catholic adoption agencies to give children to same-sex couples and force Catholic public clerks to give out marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Bishop Lori put it all in one document why this is important. It all happens through the courts and legislatures and executive offices of our government and we all have to understand duty to object to this curtailing of our religious freedom.

Secularists are saying freedom of religion is freedom to worship as opposed to freedom to live your faith in the public square. What they want to allow is a militant secularism.

Bishop Lori named 10 bishops to his ad-hoc committee and ten others as well, including John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America, and Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law and former US ambassador to the Vatican.

Scot said one-third of committee chairs of the USCCB are elected each year and Cardinal Seán was elected to be chairman of the bishops; Pro-Life Committee, one of the most important committees. Antonio said the pro-life cause is very near and dear to Cardinal Seán. It is great news for Boston and great news for him. The new chairmen-elect will become chairs of those committee next year and will spend this year preparing for leadership.

The bishop elected to head this committee is usually one of the American cardinals, which gives greater prominence to the office and the work they’re doing. Cardinals will also get more headlines in the secular media. Fr. Roger is excited about this appointment because Cardinal Seán is a great homilist and will be the celebrant at the annual Mass at the March for Life in Washington, DC, each year. Also this coincides with the push for legalizing euthanasia in Massachusetts.

Also announced was a new Ordinariate, which is essentially a national diocese for Anglicans who want to become Catholic as complete communities. The only other ordinariate in the US is the Archdiocese for Military Services. There is a an Ordinariate for Anglicans in the United Kingdom which just began. Susan said her own parish has a priest who is a former Episcopal priest who came into the Church as an individual.

Fr. Roger said it shows Pope Benedict’s desire for Christian unity and creating a bridge for reunification who separated along with Henry VIII in the 16th century. Many Anglicans recognize that as the Anglican Communion has gotten further from Scripture and orthodox Christianity, they recognize that there was no longer any hope of bringing the Anglican structure back to the Church, so they are coming back on their own. Anglican faithful, priests, and bishops desire unity and recognize that the whole Anglican communion won’t be coming back. Cardinal Wuerl said we will welcome Episcopalian and Anglican brothers and sisters back into the Church with open arms. The Ordinariate will be erected on January 12. Whoever is named to lead the Ordinariate will be named at that point as well as the see or central city where it will be located. Antonio said in the case of this ordinariate does not have to be a bishop. It can be a priest, either one who is already Catholic or who came from the Anglican Communion several years ago. He said many Catholics look at this development with joy and hope because it helps to fulfill Christ’s prayer that all will be one.

Scot said there were three keynote addresses at the bishops’ meeting, that by Bishop Lori, another by Bishop Rhoades on defending marriage, and by Archbishop Timothy Dolan as the new leader of the bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Dolan gave a clarion call to renew our evangelization and be passionately in love with Christ. Susan said the archbishop said we need prophets, not programs. Jesus prefers saints, not solutions. This is similar to what Pope John Paul II said in Novo millennio inuente.

Susan said the opening of the article was impressive where the Archbishop said the Church has wounds like Christ did from the scandals of the past few years.

Scot said the archbishop was blunt about an effort from within the Church from Catholics who want to separate Christ from the Church. That’s people who want to be spiritual, not religious. They want faith on their terms, not those from Jesus. Dolan talks about the chilling statistics from the people in the Church who prefer a Christ without the Church, the King without the kingdom, the Father with children as long as I am the only child. Dolan said if this doesn’t causes bishops to shudder, he doesn’t know what will. Antonio said the Church is trying to address this by trying to recreate the way we pass the faith on to the next generation. How do we educate our children? How do families live their faith? It will take more than one generation to reverse the situation we’re in today. Antonio’s own experience readying parents for the baptism of their children finds their knowledge of their faith to be abysmal.

He challenged his brother bishops whether people would say that they themselves are passionately in love with Christ. Bishops are under a microscope with regard to the condition of the Church and the bishops need to model the behaviors they want to see in their people. He gave a talk to energize the bishops and through them all of us in the Church. Squabbles and fighting can be a negative influence on people thinking about coming into the Church.

3rd segment:

Scot said this isa compelling title because Jesus is eager to see us there. The primary Jesus asked us to praise and worship him is to come together in the Eucharist. Fr. Roger said the expression “eager desire” comes from St. Luke’s account of the Last Supper where he said he eagerly desired that moment for them to be together.

Fr. Roger said many can say they love God, but love means sacrificing for the one we love. It’s Jesus who asks us to come to Mass, not just the Church or our mothers. He wants us at Mass more than all the mothers in the world want their children to be with them at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner. That’s the overall theme of the pastoral letter.

Scot said it’s a 9,300 word letter and very comprehensive. Susan said the beginning of the letter where the Cardinal relates it to Thanksgiving touched her. There are also practical suggestions about families bringing children to Mass. Susan said the US bishops have a website with similar suggestions at ForYourMarriage.org. Susan said the whole topic of attending Mass came up at her workshop last night and people were saying there’s nothing wrong with having an obligation to come to Mass.

Scot said the Cardinal shares an anecdote:

Imagine if a wife, celebrating an anniversary dinner with her husband, told him that she accepted the dinner invitation only to “fulfill an obligation.” How would you feel to be on the receiving end of that message?

In the same way, Christ loves us and wants us to come not just out of obligation, but also out of love. Better to come out of obligation than not come at all, but it’s best to come out of love.

Antonio said he was very happy to see the flow of the letter, which is very pastoral. It’s not a theological treatise. He was also touched by the section which talks about passing on the faith to children.

Recently I attended a dinner at which the principal of one of our local Catholic high schools was being honored. In his remarks he said: “I grew up in a family where going to Mass on Sunday was about as optional as breathing.” Many of us in the audience could identify with those words — it was not a matter of authoritarian parents or social pressure, but rather a sense of how important the Sunday Eucharist was for our family identity and survival. To miss Mass is to stop breathing; it is the sure path to a spiritual asphyxiation.

Antonio said if we don’t have this experience of the love of God creates a vacuum in our lives. Mass helps us to live our life in its fullness.

Fr. Roger said the letter is broken into two parts. The first is our desire to meet with the Lord’s own desire to meet us. The cardinal is trying to fire up our love for the Lord to meet his great love. The section has nine different ways we can respond to the Lord’s letter. The second part has practical ways that all of us can take this eager desire of Jesus and try to bring us all back together. The practical insights in this part will be read by the faithful throughout the world. Compared to Pope Benedict’s Sacramentum Caritatis, which is very theological, this is full of practical ways to spread the gift of the Eucharist. He particularly liked the call to priests to have more explanatory Masses that explain how and why we do what we do at Mass.

4th segment: In the Anchor this week is an article about the 43rd annual Marian Medal awards in the Diocese of Fall River. One of the people who was to receive the award and was interviewed for an article in the newspaper later died. He will still receive the medal, but Fr. Roger said his comments were a great summation of those who receive these awards which honor and reward those who are devoted to service of the Church.

Scot said the Cheverus awards for the Archdiocese of Boston to be given out this coming Sunday at the cathedral were inspired the Marian Medals.

Another story is that the Vatican has upheld the sale of St. Jeremiah Church in Framingham to the Syro-Malabar Catholic Diocese in the US, which effectively ends the vigil by members of the former parish. The people who had been fighting to keep the parish have decided to give up their fight after the final Vatican appeal.

Scot said Immaculate Conception Parish in Weymouth has been producing a TV show on local cable access for 19 years. Susan said she will appear on the show very soon.

In the Anchor, there is an explanation of the funeral rite. Janet Benestad writes a column in this week’s Pilot about how people are being misled to sign a petition which is in favor of physician-assisted suicide.

Scot called to the attention listeners the death of Fr. Kenneth McAskill who was a pastor for 18 years in Somerville and then 18 years in Medford in addition to a number of other priests. There’s also a profile in the Pilot continuing to look at the bishops of Boston and this week it’s on Cardinal Humberto Medeiros.

Fr. Roger summarized his editorial in this week’s Anchor on Archbishop Charles Chaput’s address in Worcester last week, which looks at how religious freedom has eroded in our country mainly because Christians have been lukewarm in their faith and not living it to the fullest. The response to it needs to be a new flame of faith in love. He wanted Church leaders to help the young to get to know their faith by people who are on fire in their parishes and families and form them to take the fire of their love out into the public square.

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