Program #0417 for Thursday, November 15, 2012: Disciples in Mission; New bishop; US Bishops’ meeting; Pontifical Latin Academy

November 15, 2012

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Summary of today’s show: Our usual Thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Gregory Tracy, and Fr. Roger Landry, consider the news headlines of the week, including today’s press conference announcing the new pastoral plan for the Archdiocese of Boston called Disciples in Mission; the various decisions of the US bishops’ meeting this week on homilies, penance, abstinence, Dorothy Day’s cause for canonization, and the USCCB’s public affairs office; the appointment of Fr. Bob Blaney to a new diocesan role; and the new Pontifical Latin Academy.

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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: Disciples in Mission; US Bishops’ meeting; Pontifical Latin Academy

1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He said there was a press conference at 2pm announcing the new pastoral plan. Susan Abbott said it was great to be there and there was a great energy in the room.

Scot said it was also announced that Fr. Paul Soper would be the new permanent director of pastoral planning. Gregory Tracy said as an interim director Fr. Paul has done a great job. Greg said beyond the plan, he was struck by the Cardinal’s plan to reach out to those who are only occasionally connected to the Church. Susan said it came across clearly came across that evangelization is at the forefront of this plan. She discussed the Cardinal’s statement that a significant number of people come to Mass monthly, slightly more than those who come weekly. Fr. Roger said the national number is 40% who go once per month. They want to have that relationship with God, but that means something else has to be put in second-place and instead they have to either work or they want to take their children to sports or the like. Another situation is broken families where the kids go from one home to another and it affects the way the whole family attends Mass. Fr. Roger said the reaction isn’t where are you, but we’re really grateful when you come, how can we help you to address these issues?

Scot said what came up is that Phase 1 will be an elaborate sandbox to try new things, to learn what works and what doesn’t work. He said parishes will try a bunch of things and assess what actually works so the bulk of the parishes later can implement what does work. Susan said there are already several parishes that are sharing religious education programs and their experience has worked out some of the kinks. She thinks that in the future they can look back at these parishes and how they have had a degree of success.

To see the press conference go to or watch at 8pm tonight on CatholicTV. Scot also noted that Cardinal Sean will take part in a live chat at tomorrow from 1 to 2pm. There’s also a short video produced of the reflections of the members of the Pastoral Planning commission.

2nd segment: Scot Landry said the US bishops met in Baltimore this week and they discussed a new document on more effective preaching of Sunday homilies. He said it was great to hear the bishops focus on making the Sunday liturgy a stronger tool of evangelization. Susan said the liturgy is not adult education, but public worship and praise of God. But within that the homily is a very effective means of adult formation. The bishops encourage the priests to make it ever more relevant to people’s lives. She thinks of the priests who are so busy and it’s difficult to devote time to preparing homilies.

Scot said he hasn’t see the new document, but asked Fr. Roger what he’s heard of it. He said there’s a huge focus on Jesus’ preaching, how he revealed the Father, used parables, encouraged on one hand and castigated on the other. Much of the time when preaching is taught, they look at the general categories of oratory, but preaching is its own particular art form that is to reach the head and heart and motivate you to moral action. He said it’s noteworthy on the amount time spent on doctrinal preaching, the communication of the doctrines of our faith, because so many Catholics are not learning about their faith. Catechesis isn’t the focus of the homily, but it’s often the only opportunity people have for it.

Scot asked Fr. Roger how preparing the Sunday homily fits in with his other duties. Fr. Roger said the Second Vatican Council says preaching the Word is his primary duty. He said administrative duties come third, after preaching and the sacraments and hopefully members of the parish will step up and let the pastor do the first two.

Scot said the bishops also adopted a new plan for themselves for the next couple of years, the first part of which is the Year of Faith and embracing the sacrament of penance. They are encouraging every diocese to do what Boston has been doing in The Light Is On For You. Cardinal Dolan also implied the US might bring back Friday abstinence for every week, not just Lent, as an opportunity for weekly sacrifice and penitential reflection. Greg talked about how when he was converting to Catholicism the sacrament of penance was the stumbling block for him. He sees the value in having a structure or a plan and a framework like the Light Is On For You. Scot said when the entire diocese does something, the word of mouth gets amplified and he hopes it becomes part of the Catholic conversation in Lent next year.

Susan said of extension of Friday abstinence is fine as is anything that turns our mind and hearts to God. It’s not a hardship or sacrifice for people anymore. She noted that non-meat meals are as common as meat dishes. It’s not as much of a sacrifice now as it was years ago. But even if it’s not a hardship, but a reminder that’s still good. Greg said it will need to be led into with a lot of catechesis so people understand. We’re dealing with much more secularized people and even those who go to Church don’t understand why.

Fr. Roger said he thinks the primary objective is the restoration of an authentic Catholic identity. In the old days, it reinforced that we were all in something together. He notes that the Church didn’t change the rule, just relaxed it a bit. The Church still expected people to abstain from meat on Friday or find another penance. Historically, meat was considered precious and people rarely had it. In the Middle Ages, people were giving up meat and fasting on bread and water.

The bishops also voted unanimously to open the cause of canonization of Dorothy Day. Scot thought it was an unusual move for the bishops to highlight one particular cause over the many others already opened in the US. Susan said she thought it was wonderful. Fr. Roger said the reason is because as Cardinal Dolan said it’s a conflict of interest for him and it’s something he’s been promoting. He thought it would be good for the whole bishops conference to vote on it. Normally, in a canonization case you get the opinion of other bishops, but not usually the entire conference. One reason is that Dorothy Day’s influence was national in scope. He thinks it would be great for any legitimate cause of canonization.

Another vote reorganized the public affairs unit of the USCCB. Greg said he’s been impressed with the changes going on in the communications office of the USCCB since he came to the Pilot in 2001. They’ve been turning to lots of new media, but they continue to streamline the message. Often you don’t know which office to turn to for information you’re trying to get. Scot said Cardinal Dolan is a master communicator, but like much of the Church is that they’re good at sending out press releases, but he hopes they have a person not a bishop who can go on TV or radio to represent the Church, especially in areas of conflict. They could make sure the Church’s message is conveyed well, in a way that the person could get into the actual debate.

Fr. Roger said the impetus for this change comes from the religious freedom debate because Cardinal Dolan became the only one competent to appear on these various news shows to explain the Catholic faith under fire. He said they want to get together a team of well-trained people who can explain the Good News with clarity and confidence. He hopes that this new spokesman will put together a program to train people to be able to do this, especially the bishops. Fr. Roger said another significant moment was Archbishop Cordileone’s address on the defense of marriage.

In other local news, Fr. Bob Blaney, pastor of St. Jerome’s in Weymouth will become administrator of St. Joseph’s in Boston and special assistant to the Secretary of Parish Life and Leadership in January. Scot said his sense is that Fr. Sepe came to this job about six months ago and realized that this is a bigger job than one person can do. His predecessor, Fr. Foley, had Fr. Jim Flavin for much of his tenure, but Fr. Flavin has moved to another assignment.

Scot said this Sunday at 3pm will see the Cheverus Awards at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross and it will be live on CatholicTV. In the Anchor this week is a list of the names of those in the Diocese of Fall River will be receiving the Marian Medals this weekend too. The Marian medals were the inspiration for the Cheverus Awards and they recognize the lifetime of service and work of the many people who work heroically, often anonymously, to make them examples throughout the entire diocese. It’s a delight and an agony for a pastor to nominate someone, because you can only select one. He talked about the recipient in his parish this year.

Also in the news, the Holy Father created a new Pontifical Latin Academy. Fr. Roger said in order for theological studies to occur we’re either going to have to translate lots of material that hasn’t been or we’re going to have to give people a way to read them. This will help many more people to have the Latin language became a real staple in the way they approach the Church’s tradition. Greg talked about the experience of international Catholic gatherings where there many languages spoken, but they prayed in Latin because it was a common bond.

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