Summary of today’s show: Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell discussed the life and death of Thomas O’Connell, Fr. Mark’s father, this past week, and the elder O’Connell’s contributions as a university librarian, but also as a support to Fr. Mark’s vocation. Later, they discussed some of the headlines of the week, including Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s letter to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on efforts to expand abortion access; the upcoming 40th anniversary March for Life; Project Rachel retreats; the 10th anniversary of the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclessiae; and this Sunday’s Mass readings.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell
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: Remembering the Life of Thomas O’Connell and Pro-Life News
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed everyone to the show. He also welcomed Fr. Mark O’Connell and noted that Fr. Mark’s father died a week okay yesterday and his funeral Mass was this past Wednesday. Fr. Mark said it was quite an experience to celebrate the funeral and have so many priests and religious and laypeople come out for the wake and funeral. He said it’s an amazing brotherhood of the priesthood and you experience it when you go through something like that. Fr. Mark’s father was 91 years old and had suffered from Alzheimer’s. Scot said Fr. Mark had described his father as a man who loved his faith and loved learning. He was a university librarian in his career, working at Harvard, York University in Toronto, and Boston College. He retired in 1986 and remained an educator, but pretty much concentrated on his children. He was constantly feeding them articles, poems, and literature, especially to Fr. Mark to use in homilies. So to write a homily for his father was in some ways an extraordinary task, but it was also easy because of the box of clippings he had saved from his father.
Fr. Mark said there’s a weird blessing with Alzheimer’s which is that it’s a long goodbye. So much of his father faded away, but love remained. He also talked about how his father was very supportive of his call to the priesthood. He related how they didn’t want him to feel pressured when he first started thinking about it and how he was extremely supportive throughout his priesthood. Fr. Mark related a story of his childhood attending church. They would all site in the same pew, in the same row. It was his job to put the money in the offertory basket. Eventually, he realized that his father gave different amounts each week and his father said he gave more for good homilies. He gave more if the homily was shorter or if the priest had a good story or smiled. He was Fr. Mark’s first professor of homiletics.
Scot said it seems Mr. O’Connell wanted priests to be warm and genial and a good storyteller. He related that children see God in the same way they perceive their own father: as a tough, hard-love guy or a tender, loving dad. So it’s important that priests reflect the love, the kindness, and the warmth of God the Father. Fr. Mark said his father throughout his priesthood always asked him if he’d smiled.
Scot said Fr. Mark said in his homily that he had always had his Catholic magazines and periodicals to his parents’ house, where his father would read them first, highlight the articles, and tell Fr. Mark what in them he should read. Mr. O’Connell was also a lifelong reader of the New York Times and he was always cutting out articles and sending them to Fr. Mark. He had very eclectic tastes.
Scot said Bishop Walter Edyvean said the Archdiocese is tremendously indebted to Thomas O’Connell for building world-class Catholic libraries in Boston for generations who will benefit from his work.
2nd segment: Scot said they will now be discussing the rest of the news of the week after yesterday’s discussion of Disciples in Mission. He said much of the news focuses on the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. As chair of the US bishops’ pro-life activities committee, Cardinal Seán will be prominent in most of the events.
Also, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York wrote an open letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo regarding a new bill that would expand abortion access.
Dear Governor Cuomo:
Congratulations on your third State of the State message earlier today. There is much to cheer in your report, and my brother bishops and I look forward to working with you to advance much of this agenda.
In particular, we share your absolute horror at the many incidents of gun violence that have had such a terrible impact on our society, none more so than the unspeakable massacre of 26 innocent children and women at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14. We commit ourselves to working with you to address this urgent problem as you look toward meaningful reforms of our gun laws, improvements in care for the mentally ill, and safer schools. Allow me also to single out for praise your continued interest in reforming and improving our state’s health care system, as well as your support for a long-overdue increase in the state’s minimum wage. I am hopeful that real progress can be made in these and other areas that enhance the lives of those who are living below or near the poverty level in our state.
Yes, there is much to praise. However, I would be remiss if I did not renew my great disappointment regarding your continued support for the radical Reproductive Health Act. I know that you appreciate the fact that millions of New Yorkers of all faiths, or none at all, share a deep respect for all human life from conception to natural death. I also know that you are aware that New York State’s abortion rate is, incredibly, double the national average. Sadly, nearly 4 in 10 pregnancies statewide end in abortion. In some parts of New York City, the rate is higher than 60 percent, mostly in the impoverished Black and Latino communities.
As we have discussed in the past, we obviously disagree on the question of the legality of abortion, but surely we are in equally strong agreement that the abortion rate in New York is tragically high. There was a time when abortion supporters claimed they wanted to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare.” Yet this measure is specifically designed to expand access to abortion, and therefore to increase the abortion rate. I am hard pressed to think of a piece of legislation that is less needed or more harmful than this one.
I do hope you will reconsider this position. I stand ready and eager to discuss this or any other matter with you at any time. My brother bishops and I would very much like to work closely with you to reduce New York’s scandalous abortion rate and to provide an environment for all women and girls in which they are not made to feel as though their only alternative is to abort, something which goes against all human instinct, and which all too often leads to lifelong feelings of regret, guilt and pain for them, and for the baby’s father as well.
I look forward to discussing all of these issues with you further when I visit Albany on March 19 and 20 for the New York State Catholic Conference’s Catholics at the Capitol event. Wishing you and your family every blessing in the New Year, may I remain
Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan
Scot said we face similar issues in other states and nationally as well. The rhetoric is that abortion should be safe, legal, and rare, but they’re always trying to expand access to abortion. Fr. Mark said it’s a critical time for legislation on abortion. He added that Cardinal Seán has said that the tide is turning on abortion among young people, who are increasingly pro-life. It would be tragic to allow greater access to abortion when clearly there are too many abortions as it is.
A recent major poll finds that 83% of Americans support restrictions on abortion and a large percentage want all abortions banned. Fr. Mark said we have 40 years of abad law that is open-ended and doesn’t make distinctions. It’s time for the end.
Scot encouraged listeners to consider attending the March for Life on Friday, January 25, if at all possible for this historic anniversary. Hundreds of thousands and up to one million people march from the Capitol to the Supreme Court each year. Fr. Mark said Cardinal Seán loves that the March is like-minded people who aren’t afraid to speak up to this issue. Scot said he’s been to the March once about 15 years ago. Fr. Mark noted that there are similar marches elsewhere in the country including the West Coast Walk for Life on the same weekend.
Scot added that Project Rachel retreat opportunities are coming up this spring. Project Rachel is a confidential Catholic outreach ministry offering hope and healing to women and men hurting from past abortions. The dates are Saturday, February 2, 2013; Saturday, March 16, 2013; Saturday, April 6, 2013; 9:00AM – 5:00 PM.
Fr. Mark said he is a trained Project Rachel confessor. He said both men and women can receive tremendous healing from this wound in their life.
Also in the news, we are approaching the ten year anniversary of Ex Corde Ecclessiae. Fr. Mark O’Connell explained that the Vatican document addressed the relationship of Catholic universities and theologians with their local bishop and diocese. The 1983 Code of Canon Law said Catholic theology professors need to get a mandate from their local bishops in order to teach the faith. Ex corde Ecclessiae in 1993 put that mandate into effect. It also addressed the importance of universities in general. Ten years, the US bishops implemented that document. It was a tense situation where theologians didn’t want to lose their academic freedom and bishops wanted to ensure the integrity of the teaching of the faith. Now ten years later, the bishops are looking back at how the implementation has gone.
Scot said his sense is that things got kind of crazy in the 1970s, where some professors teaching at Catholic universities got tenure and were teaching clearly heretical things. Fr. Mark said theologians don’t have the right to publish their opinions as if it were valid Catholic teaching. They can be on the cutting edge of theology, but they have to remain respectful of the Church’s teaching. Fr. Mark said there’s a special responsibility when using the word “Catholic” that you are handing on what is authentically Catholic
3rd segment: Now as we do every week at this time, we will consider the Mass readings for this Sunday, specifically the Gospel reading.
- 1st Reading for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, January 13, 2013 (Isaiah 42:1-4, 6-7)
Thus says the LORD:
Here is my servant whom I uphold,
my chosen one with whom I am pleased,
upon whom I have put my spirit;
he shall bring forth justice to the nations,
not crying out, not shouting,
not making his voice heard in the street.
a bruised reed he shall not break,
and a smoldering wick he shall not quench,
until he establishes justice on the earth;
the coastlands will wait for his teaching.
I, the LORD, have called you for the victory of justice,
I have grasped you by the hand;
I formed you, and set you
as a covenant of the people,
a light for the nations,
to open the eyes of the blind,
to bring out prisoners from confinement,
and from the dungeon, those who live in darkness.
- Gospel for the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Sunday, January 13, 2013 (Luke 3:15-16, 21-22)
The people were filled with expectation,
and all were asking in their hearts
whether John might be the Christ.
John answered them all, saying,
“I am baptizing you with water,
but one mightier than I is coming.
I am not worthy to loosen the thongs of his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
After all the people had been baptized
and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying,
heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon him
in bodily form like a dove.
And a voice came from heaven,
“You are my beloved Son;
with you I am well pleased.”
Scot said many people wonder why Jesus had to be baptized. When we are baptized, we have Original Sin washed away and we become part of God’s family. Fr. Mark said it’s not the same baptism we go through. Jesus was baptized in the water by John and the blood of his crucifixion. Jesus was baptized symbolically to mark the beginning of his ministry. Scot said how much it should mean to all of us to hear from God to say to us at the end of our lives, “You are my beloved Son with you I am well pleased.” Fr. Mark said what he takes from this every year is how we can all use a bit more fire in our life, to burn with the Holy Spirit.
Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire. – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
Scot said this Sunday marks the end of the Christmas season.