Program #0301 for Thursday, May 17, 2012: Obama’s same-sex marriage “evolution”; Parish closing appeal rejected; 40 years of all-night Adoration

May 17, 2012

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Summary of today’s show: On our regular Thursday show, Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy consider the news headlines of the week, including President Obama’s same-sex marriage “evolution”; rejection of a parish closing appeal by the Vatican; new priest assignments; and the 40th anniversary of monthly all-night Eucharistic adoration in the Archdiocese of Boston.

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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: Obama’s same-sex marriage “evolution”; Parish closing appeal rejected; 40 years of all-night Adoration

1st segment: Scot and Susan talked about how she came to show from a very important meeting with Cardinal Sean and parish catechetical leaders. The bishop of a diocese is the primary catechist and they discussed how the timing of the meeting after winding down of the faith formation year helped them to listen to new initiatives coming up.

Scot said today is the Feast of the Ascension and a Holy Day of Obligation in the Archdiocese. Find a church near you on your way home at Pilot Parish Finder. This week has also been Parish Service Week, where employees at the Pastoral Center have been volunteering at parishes in Mattapan and Dorchester.

2nd segment: Scot and Susan welcomed Gregory Tracy and Fr. Roger Landry back to the show. One of the big stories of the week has been the change by President Obama to support same-sex marriage. Fr. Roger wrote an editorial in the Anchor this week on the topic. Fr. Roger said no one was surprised by the change because his words and actions have been different over the past eight years. His Justice Department had opposed the Defense of Marriage Act as bigotry and the State Department has stopped defending the right to religious freedom in order to promote the invented right to normalized same-sex marriage and activity. Fr. Roger then focused on Obama’s claim to have had his stand on marriage “evolve”.

[T]he term evolution – which he has been using for two years to describe the interior ethical flux he said he was in – is clearly a loaded one. Not only does it imply a progression from Neanderthal to enlightened ideas, but it also suggests that the only people opposed to such positive development would be the same fundamentalist primitives who believe the world was created in six 24-hour periods.

But Obama tried mainly to base the change on Christian faith.

Most striking of all, however, is that the particular type of evolution the president said he had gone through was above all theological. “I’ve been going through an evolution on this issue,” the president said to Roberts, describing how politically he has gone from supporting civil unions to same-sex marriages. “I was sensitive to the fact that for a lot of people, the word Marriage was something that evokes very powerful traditions, religious beliefs and so forth, but … at a certain point, I’ve just concluded that for me personally, it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same-sex couples should be able to get married.

… In the end the values that I care most deeply about and [the first lady] cares most deeply about is how we treat other people … . We are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing Himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and hopefully the better I’ll be as president.”

Obama thought he had to give in on same-sex marriage because he thought that’s what Christ would want him to do.

It’s clear, however, in terms of the consistent application of this lapidary moral principle, that the president still has much evolving to do. If he applied it to the victims of abortion, he would be hard pressed to desire that physicians do to him what abortion doctors do to our younger, smaller, more vulnerable fellow human beings. If he applied it to the situation of conscientious Catholics in America, he would not be trying to compel Catholic institutions, business owners and individuals through their insurance plans to fund practices they believe are immoral.

He also needs to evolve toward a correct interpretation of the Golden Rule. The Golden Rule does not mean to do for others whatever they’d like, but to do for them what is for their true good, just as we’d always want others to act in promotion of our true good. The Golden Rule for parents with regard to their kids’ appetites is not to feed them all the cotton-candy, chocolate and ice cream they’d like, but to make them eat their vegetables. The Golden Rule for teachers who care for their stUdents is not to give them little or no homework and easy A’s, but to exercise their developing minds and even to flunk them if they fail to perform. The Golden Rule for friends of those who are addicted is not to enable or ignore their problems but to intervene forcibly to get them help, even if it be against their desires. The Golden Rule is not about others’ wants, but their genuine needs. It’s always linked to the truth about the good.

The Golden Rule pertains to all society as well.

Scot said “evolution” is a loaded term and he was offended by the implication that those who disagree with the President are not as evolved as him. Susan said if this were a different topic and a different candidate, would we say he evolved or would we say he flip-flopped. Evolution carries the implicit meaning of moving to something at a higher level and offers an unfortunate implication.

Greg said it seems convenient that now when Obama’s in the middle of campaign for re-election he is switching. Before he was more guarded in his positions, perhaps because it wouldn’t have played very well to most people. This announcement seems to be a political inoculation for the campaign.

Scot said Republicans used to be the party accused of making social issues a key part of the election, but this year it seems it’s the Democrats doing it. Fr. Roger said we’re seeing a little bit of desperation like with the health care bill. Certain segments in the Democrat Party are worried about losing in November and so they’re trying to force the social issues forward. Fr. Roger said we have to approach these issues being confident and strong in our faith. Fr. Roger said Jesus spoke emphatically about marriage in his ministry. The roots of the meaning of marriage are found in the Book of Genesis.

Scot quoted Cardinal Dolan’s remarks.

“President Obama’s words today are not surprising since they follow upon various actions already taken by his administration that erode or ignore the unique meaning of marriage. We cannot be silent in the face of words or actions that would undermine the institution of marriage, the very cornerstone of our society,” Cardinal Dolan added. “The people of this country, especially our children, deserve better.”

“I pray for the president every day, and will continue to pray that he and his administration act justly to uphold and protect marriage as the union of one man and one woman,” Cardinal Dolan said. “May we all work to promote and protect marriage and by so doing serve the true good of all persons.”

3rd segment: Scot said two new assignments for priests were announced in the Pilot this week. Fr. Michael J. Doyle will become pastor at St. Mary of the Annunciation in Danvers, effective June 5. He had been serving as a military chaplain. Fr. Paul Aveni has been named pastor at Sacred Heart parish in Middleborough and Sts. Martha and Mary in Lakeville, effective June 5. Scot said Fr. Aveni’s territory might be the largest area for any one priest to cover in the archdiocese. Fr. Roger talked about the beauty of the area around the Lakeville parish.

Also in the Pilot is a profile of Fr. Kevin Deeley, the new pastor of St. Michael’s in North Andover, the largest in the Archdiocese. Greg said Fr. Deeley was a Navy chaplain for many years and just returned to the Archdiocese. He seems very happy to be there. He is the younger brother of the vicar general, Msgr. Robert Deeley. He was also a high school chaplain at Matignon back in the 1980s. Susan commented on the great rewards he found as a chaplain.

“[The chaplaincy] was very rewarding, in the sense that the Catholic priest is there for the sailors who are Catholic. It’s like bringing the Church to them,” explained Father Deeley. “As a chaplain, we make their home parish visible to the sailors,” he said, adding that in his 16 years in military service he has realized that “we are in good hands” with our service men and women.

Another story in the Pilot is the rejection of the appeal of the closing of St. Francis Cabrini in Scituate by the Vatican. Greg said this story starts in 2004 when the parish was closed as part of the Archdiocesan reconfiguration. It had a full-time 24-hour vigil of those who were trying to keep the parish open. Greg said there are two aspects to a closing. First is the suppression of the parish and second is the disposition of the building.

Greg said the parish was suppressed in 2004. Parish in canon law is an entity like a corporation, but it doesn’t necessarily have a building. It’s typically a territorial area. It can have more than one church as well. The first appeal was to reverse the decision to suppress the parish. Then the second step was the church building itself being relegated to profane use, which means it’s deconsecrated and can be used for other uses. Profane here is the opposite of the sacred. So it can have a profane or secular use, but it must be sordid. The Vatican has reversed relegation of property in other parts of the US, but in this case the appeal was rejected.

Scot said it’s been a controversial eight years. Most parishioners in the Archdiocese affected by closings moved on and accepted the change. About eight or nine parishes had some parishioners hold on and Cardinal Sean was committed to allowing the vigils to continue while appeals were ongoing. Scot said many Catholics in the archdiocese are calling people to move on, especially with the cost to maintain these vigil sites. Scot noted that the leaders of the Scituate vigil are the neighbors next door to the parish and so a person could reasonably conclude that they have self-interested reasons for holding out.

Susan sought clarification on whether there is one more appeal, and Greg said they are appealing to the Apostolic Signatura on whether the Archdiocese followed the requirements of canon law. They can appeal twice, first to a panel of the court and then to the full body of the court. The court’s decision will be based on whether lower courts acted correctly, not on the merits of the case.

Scot said no one wants to close a church. We’d rather keep opening parishes, but there are greater issues and Cardinal Sean has a responsibility to maximize resources for the entire Archdiocese of Boston.

Fr. Roger added that with regard to suppression of a parish, it’s fundamentally whether the followed canon law to the letter. With regard to relegation, the Archdiocese has to have a grave reason for doing that and the Congregation for the Clergy has recently overturned those decisions in other dioceses because the bishops didn’t give a sufficiently grave reason. We’re closing a place where God has been worshipped and we have to look closely at that.

In Europe, churches are maintained by the government. In Italy, every church but five are owned and maintained by the government. So you can understand why the Roman Curia might not recognize the burden on dioceses that have to pay to maintain empty churches. Fr. Roger said there’s been a lot of conversation between US bishops and the Roman Curia during the ad limina visits this year.

Scot said Cardinal Sean has respected the appeal process. Greg followed up on what Fr. Roger said to clarify that even in the cases where the Vatican has said the buildings can’t be relegated, it doesn’t mean they have to be parishes again. Scot said it’s tough to make the case that there aren’t enough other parishes in the area given Mass attendance now. We can hope that changes in the future, but we know you need to have a critical mass of people, priest, staff, and ministry in parish to make it feel alive and bring people back to the Church.

Moving on, Scot said on June 1, the All-night Eucharistic Vigil marks its 40th anniversary at St. Mary’s Chapel at Boston College with a Mass at 9pm celebrated by Fr. Ron Tacelli, SJ, and a talk by Fr. Ed Riley on the message of Fatima. Barbara Keville was interviewed for the Pilot article and she has been the force behind the 40 year tradition.

“I am no theologian but I am so grateful that God uses a person like me, just a simple housewife and a mother,” Keville said.

“No words can fully express the deep gratitude and joy that this apostolate has been for the past forty years. God is so good to allow this to happen.
If God and our beloved Cardinal permit, we will continue these vigils for as long as possible,” Keville said. Keville also called for others to stan
vigils, and offered to assist the cause in any way she can – just as she has done for 40 years.

“Anybody can start a Eucharistic vigil,” she said, “If anybody wants any help in any way, I would be glad to,” Keville said.

Scot said the idea of continuing one ministry for 40 years is astonishing. Susan said Barbara is amazing person and a force of nature. Fr. Roger offered public thanks to Barbara for everything she’s done for the Lord and our faith.

Scot said Cardinal Sean has also asked all new ecclesial movements and ethnic apostolates to join him at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross on May 26, 6pm for a special vigil Mass for Pentecost. Scot also pointed out a rosary retreat by Holy Cross Family Ministries at Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton.

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