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 Cardinal Timothy Dolan being asked to give the benediction at the Republican National Convention; Presidential candidate Mitt Romney agreeing to an interview with EWTN’s The World Over program; the Archdiocese of Atlanta receiving Gone with the Wind as a bequest; the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm showing the alternative to assisted suicide; and Fr. Roger writing on the call to martyrdom as a witness to our culture.
Listen to the show:
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:
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: Cardinal Dolan at the GOP convention; Mitt Romney on EWTN; Gone with the Wind in Atlanta; Carmelite serving the infirm
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed the four Thursday regulars back to the show after a long time apart. Scot said that soon we will start making a live video stream of the show available for many shows.
Susan said she is preparing for the new catechetical school year. She said August feels like the shortest month of the year sometimes because they’re so busy getting ready. Scot welcomed Gregory Tracy and Fr. Roger Landry back to the show.
At the top of the news was the invitation by Mitt Romney to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York to give the benediction at the Republican National Convention. Scot wondered if people will criticize the cardinal as being partisan. Susan said the move by the Republicans is brilliant. Cardinal Dolan is very articulate and will use the time to call down blessings on our country without being partisan. Susan then told the story of being at dinner with Cardinal Dolan during Bishop Richard Malone’s installation celebrations in Buffalo, New York.
Scot asked Greg why would a Catholic prelate say yes to such an invitation. Greg recalled the discussion about the invitation to the President Barack Obama to participate in New York’s Al Smith dinner to benefit Catholic Charities. He said it’s interesting that the Cardinal is blasted for inviting Obama and he’ll be criticized for praying at the convention.
Scot asked Fr. Roger about the involvement of the Catholic Church in the political sphere. Fr. Roger said the first thing to recognize is that Cardinal Dolan said he would be willing to speak at both conventions and that the principle is that we should start something so important with prayer to call upon God’s authority and wisdom as we undertake such actions. He added that there are some people who think that the Catholic Church’s business is to be in church on Sunday, not to be salt and light for the world. We’re trying to lift everything up for the common good. It is a great sign that we begin so much of our public life with prayer because we can’t evict God from our society. Cardinal Dolan has been trying to chart the path by which the faith will purify all political reason. This is the same goal of Pope Benedict XVI, who said during his visit to the United Kingdom that the political sphere has nothing to fear from the Church. The Church is trying to articulate the moral principles which aren’t just for Christians, but apply to the dignity of every human person as part of natural law.
Scot noted that Mitt Romney will be appearing on EWTN tonight in a significant interview. He said it’s clearly an attempt to reach out to Catholics from the Romney campaign. Susan said the whole issue of the candidate’s religion has come up before, but the issue of Mormonism is new today and should make for an interesting conversation. Scot said these are the sorts of interviews that frame lots of issues going forward.
Greg said this looks like evidence that the Romney campaign is reaching for the Catholic vote. Greg said he’s not sure that there is a Catholic vote, as if all Catholics vote the same. Traditionally Catholics did vote Democrat, but there seems to be a split between generations where older Catholics still tend to Democrats while younger Catholics often tend to be Republican for pro-life reasons. He thinks President Obama should take the opportunity to make his case to the Catholic voters like Romney is.
Fr. Roger said he hopes Arroyo asks Romney about his conversions with regard tho the life issue. Early in Romney’s life was pro-life, then was later pro-abortion running for governor, and then came back to a pro-life position. Catholics need to be able to get beyond the typical frame on Romney as a flip-flopper who switches for political expediency. Fr. Roger said he’s heard that Romney’s switch came when Fr. Tad Pacholczyk explained to him about what’s going on in embryonic stem cell research. He’d also love to see what he likes about Paul Ryan in terms of Ryan’s understanding of the Catholic faith as well as what Ryan has written with regard to Catholic teaching and public policy. Fr. Roger thinks Ryan’s writings on the subject are the best attempt to apply the principles by any public elected official. Fr. Roger also always wants to see if candidates are men of personal faith and personal principle.
Scot said he’d ask Romney how things would be different in a Romney administration with regard to religious liberty and how the HHS mandate might be reversed. Susan would ask him about his faith and why it’s important to him and about his Mormon missionary commitment. Greg said he would ask him to speak a little about how Catholics can somehow relate to him in his Mormon faith. At the Pilot they’ve seen a lot of reluctance to support Romney because they’re afraid of his Mormonism in the feedback they’ve received in letters to the editor and elsewhere.
Scot said there is a deep connection between “Gone with the Wind” and the Archdiocese of Atlanta, because one of Margaret Mitchell’s heirs has willed it to the archdiocese.
From the Joseph Mitchell estate, Archbishop Gregory has designated that $7.5 million be given to the Cathedral of Christ the King for its building fund.
He also has assigned $1.5 million to Catholic Charities Atlanta for its immediate use and an additional $2 million to create an endowment fund for the social services agency to address its long-term need for sustaining income.
The archbishop also has asked the Catholic Foundation of North Georgia to create an endowment fund for each parish, mission and Catholic school of the archdiocese with a $10,000 gift apiece from the Joseph Mitchell estate, totaling more than $1 million.
He also has assigned $150,000 to the Deacons’ Assistance Fund, $100,000 of which will be a challenge grant that is in place until May 31,2013, to match any charitable contributions made to the fund during that time.
The remainder of the Mitchell bequest will be held in reserve and used by the archdiocese for general religious purposes as requested in Joseph Mitchell’s will, Deacon Swope said.
Plans call for the cathedral parish, which has limited space on its Peachtree Road site, to use part of the bequest to purchase the nearby archbishop’s residence on West Wesley and renovate it as a rectory. A new residence is planned for Archbishop Gregory and future archbishops of Atlanta on the property given to the archdiocese by Joseph Mitchell.
Scot said he loves to highlight the living legacy that generous people leave to the Church. Susan said she didn’t realize many of the details about Gone with the Wind in the story, like the language translations and how the estate had many artifacts from other authors, which they hope to put on public display.
Scot said when an estate gives half or more to the Church, it shows the Catholic faith was central to the donor’s life. Greg said it also provides a massive cultural icon. He also finds it shows how much the South is changing and growing and becoming so much more Catholic. He also noted that it’s an ongoing gift that will benefit the archdiocese with future profits.
Scot said he was surprised the Church didn’t sell the rights and various art, rather than seek to maintain it. Fr. Roger has been writing recently on the importance of art and beauty to the soul. Fr. Roger said the Church has been preserving cultural treasures from the beginning because they are created through the genius of human beings that God has implanted in them. The second consideration is that if the Church tried to sell it, it would have been impossible for the other half-owner to buy it and could have damaged the cultural legacy they’d been endowed with. Fr. Roger’s first thought was about the scandal years ago when Bob Dylan performed before Pope John Paul II and John Paul preached extemperaneously on what it means to be “blowing with the wind” and in similar way the Mitchell family has blown with the Wind of the Holy Spirit.
2nd segment: Scot called attention to a lengthy article in the Pilot this week about the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm in Massachusetts who run two homes for the elderly and infirm in Framingham and South Boston. They show that there’s a better way than assisted suicide, which is to love. Susan said the dignity of the human person has been their stock in trade since the beginning. They address the fear people have about end of life issues and they have assembled a good staff to meet the needs and fears of the dying. They say that people don’t come to them to die but to live, which is such an opposite attitude from the assisted suicide proponents.
Scot said the founder of the Carmelite Sisters used to be one of the Little Sisters of the Poor, who focus mainly on the poorest at the end of life, but she wanted to offer the same care to everyone regardless of wealth or class. Scot noted how one of the sisters said with regard to assisted suicide that it not only could disrupt otherwise dignified lives, but also the peace of families that help someone end their own life. There will never be peace in that family again, she said. It will make everyone wonder what will happen to them if they get ill.
The mission of the facility is to care our elders and to talk with them in this final stage of life so they don’t feel alone. Scot and Fr. Roger said that this is how our whole society should treat every sick person, and it shouldn’t be unique to the Carmelite Sisters. Fr. Roger said our culture is starting to look at people as disposable, as an economic burden. Instead we are a brother or sister and we are looked at with love.
Mother Mark of the Sisters said “Somebody has to advocate for the elderly.” That should be all of us. Scot said people who contemplate suicide need help, no matter whether they are terminally ill. Susan said many years ago the Church started a program called “In Support of Life” and a priest told a gathering a story about interviews of families of elderly and terminally ill patients who said overwhelmingly that they should have the right to take their own life, but the elderly and terminally ill themselves said overwhelmingly that they shouldn’t have that right.
Scot said people can go to the Suicide is Always a Tragedy website and click through to stopassistedsuicide.org to donate, to get educated, and to learn how to talk to others about voting No on Question 2.
Scot said in other news, EWTN host Johnette Benkovic will be speaking this weekend at the St. Francis Xavier Parish in Acushnet, Mass. Call 508–995–7600.
Fr. Roger has also restarted his Putting Into the Deep column in The Anchor newspaper. He has most recently written about the installation Mass homily by Bishop Richard Malone upon his arrival in Buffalo. He said the bishop preached about martyrdom, partly because he recognized that carrying out the New Evangelization today in a culture hostile to our faith, we need to have the grit of the martyrs to do what Christ has asked us to do. He said what our culture needs most today is the courage of the martyrs. The word martyr means witness in Greek and we are called to witness with our words and lives. Fr. Roger said we can’t proclaim the Gospel if we have a watered-down cowardly vision of the faith. Too often people are afraid to engage their faith in politics or public affairs. The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.
Scot said Fr. Charles Sheehy died at 94 years old on August 10, which was the 68th anniversary of his ordination. He served in 10 different towns in his time as a priest. Meanwhile, Fr. John Farrell, who just received Senior Priest status, served in only two different parishes, as well as teaching in the seminary. They also discussed how Fr. Farrell told his mother at his First Communion that he felt called to the priesthood.