Program #0191 for Thursday, December 1, 2011: Pastoral Planning; new Roman Missal; Nuncio in Ireland

December 1, 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

Links from today’s show:

  • 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: Pastoral Planning in the Archdiocese; the new Roman Missal; new Nuncio in Ireland

Summary of today’s show: You’ve seen the headlines about pastoral planning in the Archdiocese of Boston. Now get the real scoop. Scot Landry and Susan Abbott and regular guests Gregory Tracy and Fr. Roger Landry discuss the proposal for restructuring the way parishes are served in the Archdiocese that was leaked to the media ahead of Monday’s priestly convocation, countering the agenda-driven critics in the secular press. They also talk about how the adjustment to the new translation of the Roman Missal went in parishes this past Sunday with priests having to do the most adjusting; that the new papal nuncio to Ireland was Pope Benedict’s “go-to” man at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; and that Catholic school enrollment in the Archdiocese is up for the first time since the 90s.

1st segment: Scot said Susan starts a retreat tonight in Narragansett, RI. Diocesan leaders of religious education will be examining the working document for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for how it affects the work they do as well as personally. Fr. Roger Landry said the document is called the liniamenta. This is the first part of the Synod, a framework which is sent out to all bishops and they respond to it. From that an instrumentum laboris is constructed and will be what the synod works from. Finally, they will

Scot said to Gregory Tracy that he just returned from a trip to Guam where a friend who is the godfather of one of his children was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Agana, Guam. While he was from East Boston, his work with the Neo-Catechumenal Way led him to seminary for Guam. The story is in this week’s Pilot. It’s a beautiful country where most of the people are Catholic and they were treated to great hospitality.

2nd segment: Scot said the local coverage in the newspapers today of pastoral planning in the Archdiocese included some headlines biased toward critics. Scot said the planning documents were sent out to priests yesterday morning and some people shared them with the media, breaking an embargo that had been in place.

Scot asked Greg about the beginning of the consultation phase being started right now. Greg said on Monday, the priests of the archdiocese will be gathering with the cardinal to give their feedback on the proposal. Greg pointed out that the proposal only changes how services are rendered in the parishes, not to suppress or merge them. Instead, parish service teams would serve more than one parish and create economies of scale.

Scot said after the crisis of 2002, the archdiocese went into survival mode in 2004 with closing parishes to husband resources. Then for the last several years we’ve been in maintenance mode where we haven’t be structured to advance our mission of evangelization and bringing Christ to people and bringing them back to Mass. The changes would provide more resources for missions, streamlining for efficiency.

Susan said she was dismayed that the documents were leaked and that it was a breach of trust. She first heard about it on the radio last night on the way home. The story quoted Msgr. William Fay, co-chair of the pastoral planning commission. He said crisis management is not sustainable. He also said a repeat of broad parish closures is not an option and neither is the status quo. Scot said it’s the most significant initiative in the archdiocese of ver the next five years. Msgr. Fay will be on the show on Tuesday to talk about pastoral planning. Listeners can email questions for Msgr. Fay to

Fr. Roger said most significant in all this is the projections for the number of priests in the diocese in the future. He said something must be done because there won’t be enough priests to do what we do now. He said he was pleased to see the ingenuity of the structure they are proposing for the parish service teams. If they are set up today, then when the real losses occur they will be at full speed and able to maintain things until the increasing numbers of vocations today reverse the current trends.

Scot said the real problem we’re experiencing a loss of vocations to priesthood, marriage, and religious life is the lack of people going to Mass. And so we move from maintenance to mission by putting resources toward going to people and encouraging them to come back. Cardinal Seán doesn’t think closing parishes will work. We need to restructure for how we manage our overall resources. Greg said this restructuring is only part of a larger plan to create greater outreach and evangelization. The first step is to ensure the parishes are on a firm foundation because the parishes are where evangelization takes place. It’s where people will go.

Scot said Cardinal Sean has established five strategic priorities, including becoming a church that more readily and actively welcomes people to conversion of Christ; strengthening parishes as the primary community of faith; growing the Church through evangelization; developing excellence in faith formation for Catholics of all ages; re-energizing pastoral leadership, not just the priests, but also lay leaders in parishes.

Susan said something has to change. We are killing our priests with all that they are being burdened with. Setting these five priorities gives us a road map.

Scot added that the secular news organizations quote critics and people with agendas and you’re going to hear that this is about closing more parishes for money and that this is a spin job on behalf of the Church to sugarcoat it. That’s misleading and causing confusion. It’s a lie. This is really about becoming a Church that evangelizes and knows our faith better than we’re currently doing it. Scot said people are doing heroic work today with resources they have, but everyone working in the Church knows we can reallocate our resources to better serve our missions. We can become a stronger Church through this.

Susan said she likes Msgr. Fay’s quote at the end of the WBUR story:

Borre says he expects the plan will also lead to a number of appeals to the Vatican to stop parish closings.

But the archdiocese’s Monsignor William Fay disputes that the plan would close more churches.

“Anybody who chooses to spin that in that direction is, I think, more interested in confusing people than helping them,” Fay said.

She said people need to wait and read the original documents when they become available on Tuesday during the broader period of consultation . Scot said the plan is that the Cardinal’s address to the priests and Msgr. Fay’s address will be recorded and put on a website for anyone to see.

Fr. Roger said of Borre’s comments that they were telling that he doesn’t understand what the Vatican is doing with regard to parish closings. Borre is trying to spin it for his own agenda.Fr. Roger said it wouldn’t be shocking if some of those parish service teams decided to sell some parish buildings to reinvest in the parishes and because those buildings wouldn’t be needed. Those decisions wouldn’t be coming from the top down, but would come from the parishes themselves. He wouldn’t be shocked if there were fewer worship sites in the Archdiocese in 10 years, but it won’t be any as low as 125. Scot said there is a strong hope and plan that focusing more on mission will result in more people coming to church and so there might be more buildings, not fewer.

3rd segment: The page one story in the Pilot this week was how the adjustment to the new Roman Missal went this week. Greg said the broad response was that with all the preparation, there was still a lot of “And also with you” at the beginning of Mass, but by the end people were beginning to get it. Scot said Fr. Philip Conroy was quoted on how much preparation was required for the priests on their use of the missal and finding where everything was.

Susan said she noticed at the noon Mass at the Pastoral Center that there was a sense that we’re all in this together. She said whatever negative feelings people might have had going into it, there is now a sense that we’re going to be fine. In the Anchor, many parishioners are quoted as loving the new translation. Fr. Roger said he sent three reporters out to get feedback. He was surprised that almost every was positive. As a priest, his closest experience to this weekend was his first Holy Week celebrating the Masses in German. He’s celebrated Mass 5,600 times according to the old translation and even from as young as 6 he’d memorized the prayers of the Mass, so now he has to concentrate on reading the book to make sure he prays the correct words. It’s going to take a lot of time for the priests especially.

Fr. Roger added that the prayers are incredibly beautiful. On Monday, he prayed the preface for the dedication of a church on its anniversary and he almost paused to consider its beauty. As part of his morning holy hour, he’s starting to meditate on the prayers of the Mass before he has to pray it later.

Scot said it’s a good time to subscribe to a daily Missal with the prayers of the Mass to use them for meditation.

4th segment: Scot said the Holy Father has appointed a new nuncio or papal representative to Ireland. Rather than choose someone from the diplomatic service, the Holy Father chose someone who worked with him at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Msgr. Charlie Brown is from New York originally.

Fr. Roger said the Irish people will like him. He’s very bright who graduated from Notre Dame and Oxford and got a doctorate in Rome at Sant’Anselmo. Many thought he would have become a papal secretary. He didn’t just work with Cardinal Ratzinger; he was the go-to guy for him. Fr. Roger has known him for some years. Pope Benedict has clearly selected him for Ireland because he wanted someone he trusted very much in Ireland because after the clergy sex abuse scandals there, they needed the right guy. The Vatican diplomatic service didn’t have enough native English speakers to choose from, plus his experience at the CDF gives him familiarity with the scandal. Fr. Roger said the Church’s diplomacy is not like regular national diplomacy because first they are sent diplomats for Christ. A restructuring of the diocese of Ireland is widely expected and he will have a role.

Scot said there is an article in the Pilot about the founding of the Daughters of Mary of Nazareth religious community at the request of Cardinal Sean. There will be a Mass of Blessing at Holy Cross Cathedral on December 9 at 5:30pm. Greg said this is part of Cardinal Seán’s push for a new evangelization. Anyone who knows Sr. Olga knows her great love for Christ and wonderful spirit, which should be a great foundation for this community.

Another story in the Pilot is that Catholic school enrollment in the Archdiocese of Boston is up for the first time since the 90s. Susan said a couple of schools are profiled in the article, discussing how they have accomplished this by reflecting their communities and providing unique services.

Another article in the Pilot was an obituary for Fr. Edward Gillis, who died one week shy of his 90th birthday.

In the Anchor this week, there is an article about a new transgender law passed by the Mass. Legislature at the 11th hour. It was stripped of the worst aspects, such as giving people who consider themselves transgender access to any bathroom they chose. But we could still have transgenders filing lawsuits for discrimination in hiring or housing or other areas. The transgender community is trying to get the American Psychiatric Association to stop calling it a mental illness. There will be a consequence for society if we stop treating these disorders and try to normalize them. Fr. Roger said we want to make sure thye don’t suffer harassment for their psychological illness, but we shouldn’t try to normalize these illnesses.

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