Program #0339 for Thursday, July 12, 2012: Suicide on the ballot; Chinese bishop excommunicated; restoring tradition

July 12, 2012

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Summary of today’s show: Our usual Thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy looked at the news headlines of the week, including confirmation that assisted suicide will be on the ballot in Massachusetts in November; the excommunication of an illicitly ordained Chinese bishop; Cardinal Raymond Burke’s public comments on the Extraordinary and Ordinary Forms of the Latin Rite liturgy, concelebration, and other liturgical matters; and the Vatican’s financial reports.

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

Today’s guest(s): Gregory Tracy, managing editor of the Pilot, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, and Fr. Roger Landry, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River

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: Suicide on the ballot; Chinese bishop excommunicated; restoring tradition

1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Susan Abbott to the show and noted that the usual Thursday panel is together again. Susan said her office has been planning for the new religious education year and meeting with parish staff on their concerns, including preparing for the Year of Faith.

Scot welcomed Fr. Roger Landry, who is traveling in Michigan and doing a retreat for the Alma sisters, and Gregory Tracy. Scot noted that the Pilot is still on hiatus this week.

Scot said this week that Secretary of State Bill Galvin has certified the ballot initiatives that will be on the ballot this November and Question 2 will be the physician-assisted suicide proposal. Scot said he will be voting No.

Scot said he was disappointed by the the Secretary of State’s office used the pro-assisted suicide language of aid in dying, instead of assisted suicide. Susan said the language will make a difference; words are important. Susan said this is a matter of choosing death over life. End of life care is not easy, not pretty, but it’s a blessing and a privilege.

Scot said we’re now in the final phase of this effort. These four months will have a lot of messaging and will be competing with a lot of over election matters. Greg said he hopes that the message isn’t lost. People could easily be misled about the exct intentions and purposes of this law, just like during the original signature petition in which people said they were misled about what they were endorsing. A misleading soundbite about a false compassion might be enough to convince people. He doesn’t think people would make a deliberate choice for this ballot initiative because of how badly written it is with loopholes and lack of safeguards. Susan said she’s surprised that even proponents are in favor of such a badly written law.

Scot asked if having legalizing medical marijuana on the same ballot will have an impact. Fr. Roger said most people who care for others will recognize that marijuana is a gateway drug. He said it will be emphasized as personal rights or caring for others. Real compassion is helping people talk themselves down from the psychological rooftop and show that life still has meaning.

Scot said he thinks it will be the one on one conversations people have about this in the next four months. He said there is a poll on the Worcester Telegram and Gazette website on this issue. Susan noted how people she knows haven’t heard about this initiative. Scot said 90% of the people who are going to vote don’t know the arguments on both sides of this issue and he thinks people can be persuaded by the Church’s arguments.

Greg talked about reports that it is very easy to get doctor’s permission for medical marijuana in California, undermining the law. He said both issues are means of fleeing reality.

Scot noted that we don’t have to make theological arguments on these issues. Fr. Roger said reason tells us that these things are wrong. Opposition to suicide is commonsense and has been recognized as contrary to the common good throughout history. In the ancient world, suicide was usually offered as a means to avoid execution. He said we’re all called to be Good Samaritans, like the firefighter who climbs out on a ledge to save a suicidal person.

2nd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is John and Ann Murphy from Merrimac, MA

They win a “Praying for Our Priests” 3 pack: The book “Praying forOur Priests: A Guide to Praying for the Priesthood”, an audio CD of the Stations of the Cross and Divine Mercy chaplet, and an audio CD of the Rosary with meditations on the priesthood.

If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.

3rd segment: One of the bigger stories this week is the situation in China when the Holy See determined a Chinese bishop was illicitly ordained was excommunicated. Scot asked Fr. Roger to explain. Fr. Roger said a valid ordination means the man has been made a bishop. For that to occur an ordained bishop has to ordain a valid priest. Licit is a way of saying legal according to canon law. So there can be a valid ordination, but you don’t have the permission to make this man a bishop. For example, if Cardinal Seán ordained Fr. Roger a bishop without permission of Pope Benedict. Fr. Roger would validly be a bishop, would be illicitly ordained and would be excommunicated. That’s what happened in China. The Chinese government wanted the priest to be a bishop, but the Vatican did not want it. So the man is now a bishop, but is totally outside of communion with the Church.

Scot asked why the bishop doing the ordination wasn’t excommunicated. Fr. Roger said it was probably because the Chinese government threatened the ordaining bishop and the Vatican must have heard about this. That’s what happened when Archbishop Marcel Lefebrve ordained men as bishops in 1988. Pope Benedict XVI lifted that excommunication a couple of years ago.

Scot said it goes to show that religious liberty something we need to pray for everyday. The Communist Chinese government requires Christians to worship only in state-controlled associations, including the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, which eschews any connections to the Vatican or the Pope. Many Catholics worship in illegal, underground churches, following only bishops appointed by the Pope, although the divisions are not hard and fast. Many priests and laypeople, and even bishops, are members of the patriotic association in public, and of the underground Church, in secret. Susan said there was another Chinese bishop who renounced his participation in the Patriotic Association was arrested by the government

Scot said the next story is about Cardinal Raymond Burke, a leading American voice in the Vatican today, marked the five-year anniversary of the lifting of the restrictions on the celebration of the Extraordinary Form of the Latin Rite.

Greg said it adds to richness of the liturgy to have both forms of the Mass celebrated today. The liturgy is living and vibrant and not to be tampered with, even as the Church responds to the needs of the time. Scot said Cardinal Burke talked about resistance to the older form, elements of the older form that could be brought to the new, and parts of the new form that improve upon the old form.

The reform of the Roman Missal in the period following Vatican II was “too radical,” and “went beyond, and in some senses perhaps not completely coherently with, what the council fathers had set forth,” the cardinal says.

“There was a stripping away, a changing of the form of the rite that in my judgment was too much,” he says. “You can’t take a living reality, the worship of God as God has desired that we worship him, and tamper with it without doing violence and without in some way damaging the faith life of the people.”

Fr. Roger said there are a lot of private prayers for the priest in the older form that have been cut from the present missal. He’d love to see those come back because it helps priests to pray the Mass better. He does agree there was a lot that could have been cut from the old missal. What he appreciates most in the new form, he loves the way we begin Mass now with the New Testament greetings, the Kyrie, and the readings. In addition to being in the language of the people, the lectionary is a lot larger. There were lots of the Old and New Testament that you never heard. Both Masses help us to pray the other better.

Cardinal Burke also spoke in a separate article in Catholic News Agency that there’s an excessive use of concelebration, the practice of priests saying Mass collectively. His primary concern was that when a priest gets in the habit of primarily concelebrating, it can develop a sense in the priest of just being part of the congregation. Susan said she was surprised by this concern. Susan said he also outlined why a priest should not ad-lib prayers during Mass. She was surprised that this apparently happens enough to be remarked upon.

In a wide-ranging interview, Cardinal Burke also outlined the reasons why a priest should not ad-lib his own words or prayers during Mass, since he “is the servant of the rite” and “not the protagonist – Christ is.” “So it is absolutely wrong for the priest to think, ‘how can I make this more interesting?’ or ‘how can I make this better?’” he said.

They discuss the recent case of a priest in Illinois stripped of his faculties for this reason.

Susan asked Fr. Roger why Cardinal Burke would be speaking on liturgy since the cardinal’s role at the Vatican is as Apostolic Signatura, which is like a judge. Fr. Roger said all cardinals serve on various of the Vatican’s congregations and Cardinal Burke is a member of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Fr. Roger said Pope Benedict said a few years ago that he was disturbed by the large-scale concelebrations of thousands of priests at certain events. For a priest to validly concelebrate the Mass, he has to be able to consume the precious blood. So how much must be consecrated so everyone has some, without having lot leftover. Fr. Roger said young priests in some situations outside of parishes don’t get a chance to celebrate the Mass on their own and are forced to concelebrate, like at the Pontifical North American College.

Another big story was that the Holy See’s budget showed a loss this year. Greg said people have this idea that the Vatican is just full of gold and money. But when you see the numbers related to a worldwide organization of 1 billion people it’s not that much.

Scot compared the budget for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the Holy See and Vatican City State: $35 billion to $500 million.

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