Program #0228 for Thursday, February 2, 2012: Chancellor steps down; HHS ruling and religious freedom; Proposed pastoral clusters

February 2, 2012

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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

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: Chancellor steps down; HHS ruling and religious freedom; Proposed pastoral clusters; Mass. Citizens for Life on assisted suicide

Summary of today’s show: Scot Landry and Susan Abbott are joined by Fr. Roger Landry and Antonio Enrique this week to discuss the headlines in The Pilot and The Anchor, including the resignation of Jim McDonough, chancellor of the Archdiocese of Boston for the past six years; the release of the proposed list of parish clusters as part of the continuing pastoral planning process; the US bishops react to the unprecedented attack on religious freedom via the Health and Human Services regulations related to Obamacare; the Mass. Citizens for Life annual assembly addressing assisted suicide proposals; and the retirement of a popular priest from our largest parish.

1st segment: Scot Landry and Susan Abbott discussed the birth of her eighth grandchild, Louise Sinead Cavanaugh, 8lbs 8oz. this past week. Scot said Rico and Ashley Ciricola had their first child, Isaac, this week. Rico works in the Pastoral Center and this is their first child. Scot said today is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and for many years it was ordination day in the Archdiocese so for many priests ordained in the 50s and 60s, this is their anniversary.

2nd segment: Scot and Susan now welcome Antonio Enrique and Fr. Roger Landry. Scot said the top story is the resignation of Jim McDonough as chancellor for the archdiocese and John Straub will be succeeding Jim as interim chancellor.

Antonio said Jim became chancellor six years ago. Last year, he renewed his five year commitment, but told the Pilot that it was not a good idea to leave his office vacant at the same time as the vicar general was changing. Six months after Msgr. Deeley came as vicar general, now is the right time. Scot said that even though John is interim chancellor, Msgr. Deeley said he expects John will be named permanent chancellor. They hope to use this interim status as a time for John to listen to the voices of the constituencies and perhaps in six months the title of interim will be dropped.

Susan said the announcement was a surprise in the Pastoral Center. She said she loved how he said that at 61 years old he thinks he has another game in him and if he waits too long it will be cribbage. She was also touched by his interview with the Pilot. Scot said the chancellor is one of the top three leaders in the Archdiocese with the cardinal and the vicar general. The chancellor is the chief financial officer.

During his tenure, he addressed the clergy pension funding and recommended the creation of an independent board to oversee its implementation. He also oversaw the move of the archdiocese’s central administration from the former Brighton campus to the Pastoral Center in Braintree in 2008.

He also was able to balance the central ministries’ budget.

John Straub said his focus will be on helping parishes realize the sorts of savings as they have found for central ministries as well as help with pastoral planning in parishes.

Fr. Roger said in Fall River, the chancellor is a priest who is also a pastor as well as dealing with financial matters and canonical requests. Scot said Boston has had lay chancellors for about the past 25 years and John Straub, if he’s appointed, will become the sixth lay chancellor.

3rd segment: Scot said over the past two weeks the Archdiocesan Pastoral Planning Commission has been charing throughout the archdiocese proposed groupings of two, three, or four parishes that would share one pastoral service team and one pastor. Scot said the aim is to get feedback on the groupings. Antonio said Msgr. Fay told the Pilot that this is the third phase of the consultation process and they emphasize that this is just a proposal, not a decision and it is definitely not mergers. In the next phase they will meet with all vicariates, parish staff, pastoral councils and finance councils.

“The key point of all of this is what we are looking at is really managing the life of the parishes in very constructive ways to be able to strengthen evangelization in the diocese and to build up the Church mightily, and strongly for the future,” Msgr. Fay said.

“The first phase was to lay out a proposal—and that is all it is— from the APCC,” Msgr. Fay said.

He said the second phase took place in January as the APCC presented more detailed proposals on pastoral collaborative groupings at regional meetings through the archdiocese.

“The purpose of phase two was to say, ‘Now that you understand the proposal, here is what we suggest the collaboratives might look like,” Msgr. Fay said.

Scot and Susan emphasized that people shouldn’t listen to anyone else about what the proposals are, but should read it for themselves (at the link above).

4th segment: Scot said there has been much coverage in the media about the actions taken by the Dept of Health and Human Services that would curtail Catholics’ religious freedom and the reaction of the US bishops. Fr. Roger’s editorial this week was dedicated to this topic. He said this is all part of the Obamacare bill that was passed last year that mandates that contraception and abortifacient morning-after pills and sterilization would have to be covered under mandatory preventative care by every private health care plan. The new regulations do not allow for a religious exemption for institutions that hire or serve people who are not part of their religious belief system. Most Catholic institutions would be forced to pay for these in violation of our conscience.

Fr. Roger said this rule violates the law passed by Congress that put a condition on such regulations in that it had to prove a compelling need to violate consciences. Nearly every US bishop has voiced his disapproval.

The reaction of Catholic leaders to the trampling of conscience has been swift and strong, not only by Catholic bishops but also by people like Sister Carol Keehan. president of the Catholic Health Association, and Father John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame, both of whom have defended President Obama and his initiatives in the past. Perhaps the most powerful response of all, however, come from Pope Benedict himself in a very strong January 19 address to a group of U.S. bishops making their ad limina visits in Rome.

Just four years after citing President Washington and praising America on the White House Lawn for our country’s promotion and defense of freedom, he lamented that “powerful new cultural currents”, opposed to core moral teachings of the Judeo-Christian tradition and increasingly hostile to Christianity as such” were eroding our nation’s respect for liberty. This culture is based on a “radical secularism,” an “extreme individualism” that is seeking to promote “notions of freedom detached from moral truth.” Of particular concern, he declared, are “certain attempts being made to limit that most cherished of American freedoms, the freedom of religion. … to deny the right of conscientious objection on the part of Catholic individuals and institutions with regard to cooperation in intrinsically evil practices. … to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience.”

Antonio said there are some very liberal voices at work in the administration that want to reshape how we believe as Catholics. We need to defend our religious rights and conscience rights. Scot said many believe that this is about the push to redefine marriage and normalize same-sex relationships, pushing religion out of the public square in order to advance this message.

Scot said Cardinal Seán has read a letter to the faithful of this Archdiocese and read it on the air. (See the link above.) Fr. Roger said Cardinal Seán repeats that this letter forces our conscience. That is unprecedented in our nation. Fr. Roger said the agenda is to copy what the Church has done with school and social services and the like, then to force the Church out of the work unless she is going to compromise herself. This has already happened with adoption services. Scot said once you lose your rights, you don’t get them back. Now is the time for all Catholics to stand up for their rights.

Susan quoted Cardinal-designate Timothy Dolan’s column in the Pilot:

The Amish do not carry health insurance. The government respects their principles. Christian Scientists want to heal by prayer alone, and the new health-care reform law respects that. Quakers and others object to killing even in wartime, and the government respects that principle for conscientious objectors. By its decision, the Obama administration has failed to show the same respect for the consciences of Catholics and others who object to treating pregnancy as a disease.

5th segment: Scot said the Massachusetts Citizens for Life annual assembly strongly condemned physician-assisted suicide as proposed in Massachusetts. Wayne Cockfield was a guest on The Good Catholic Life last Friday before his address to the assembly. HE was quoted as saying: “Once people get used to killing, the pool of death always expands.” Antonio said we have examples of this from other countries, like the Netherlands, where the killing has grown beyond the original group. The law is supposed to teach and when it becomes deformed, the society forgets. In the Netherlands, it is now legal to kill children with deformities after birth. This would have been unthinkable before legalized euthanasia.

Antonio notes that in Oregon where assisted suicide is now legal studies have shown that people are killing themselves, not because they are suffering unbearable pain, but to not be a burden on others.

Scot said there is also a column in the Pilot by Drs. David and Angela Franks called “Love never abandons the suffering.” They ask whether we should be trying to eliminate suffering or the sufferer.

Susan said there was a presentation at the Pastoral Center on assisted suicide by Fr. Michael Sheehan and Peter Cataldo this week and it was wonderful. Scot said an edited video of the workshop will be placed on BostonCatholicVideos.com very soon.

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