Summary of today’s show: American canon lawyers, unlike civil lawyers, are somewhat rare, and that’s why our co-host Fr. Mark O’Connell had to find the new judge for the Archdiocese’s Metropolitan Tribunal in Turin, Italy. Fr. Mark and Scot Landry introduce Andrea Ponzone to our listeners and find out from him why there are so many more canon lawyers in Italy, why northern Italians don’t eat much pasta, his opinions on the various Italians being considered for election as pope, and what they love about Lent.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry and Fr. Mark O’Connell
Today’s guest(s): Andrea Ponzone
Today’s topics: Andrea Ponzone
1st segment: Scot Landry said today’s guest is Andrea Ponzone, who is from Italy and newly hired to work in the Metropolitan Tribunal. But first Scot and Fr. Mark O’Connell talked about the Disciples in Mission training going on in the Pastoral Center this week. Fr. Mark said he liked that everyone in the building is going through the same training together and they’re going through it just before people in parishes go through it. Scot said it involves some self-examination of dispositions and profiles, and then communication and time management techniques, all aligned with the mission of the Archdiocese, which is to bring the saving message of Jesus Christ to all. Fr. Mark said the DISC profile type describes people’s predilections, but isn’t meant to judge anyone. The profile divides people into one of 16 categories and Fr. Mark said he ended up being listed as not being in any one of them.
Scot said a key aim is to find out how those who work in central ministries can change and adjust to better serve parishes, especially the new collaboratives under the Disciples in Mission pastoral plan, with new tools and techniques and a new attitude.
2nd segment: Scot welcomed Andrea Ponzone to the show. He said he is a native of Turin, Italy, and they talked about the various saints and pilgrimage sites in the city. It is the home of St. John Bosco and the Shroud of Turin. It was also the site of the 2006 Winter Olympics. Scot said Andrea is both a civil lawyer and a canon lawyer. Andrea said in Italy, canon lawyers either start as civil attorneys, usually laypeople, or they come from theological studies, if they are priests.
Andrea said after high school he wanted to become a lawyer and only while he was studying for his law degree did he discover canon law. He talked to the chancellor of this diocese and then enrolled in a pontifical university to receive a canon law degree.
Fr. Mark said the Boston Tribunal got an Italian canon lawyer because there are so few American canon lawyers because it’s difficult to get a canon law degree in the United States. The previous canon lawyer was Sr. Peggy Sullivan who had to leave because she was elected into a leadership position in her religious order.
Scot asked how many lay canon lawyers there are in the United States. Fr. Mark said most who study canon law in the US are studying for a diocese or a religious order and are being sponsored by them. Few people get a degree on their on without having a job waiting. But in Italy there are people who have an interest first in canon law, who get sponsored by a diocese but don’t go to school with a job waiting.
Andrea said about 30 percent of his practice in Italy was canon law and he served as the Defender of the Bond, which is the person who defends the presumption that the marriage is valid in annulment cases. Scot said there seems there would be overlap between family civil law practice and canon law practice.
Scot asked Andrea what made him want to come to Boston. Andrea said he wanted to work as a full canon lawyer because he sees it as a ministry in the Church first of all. That wasn’t possible in Italy for various reasons. When he saw the job listed, he decided to apply and when he came for his job interview, he really enjoyed Boston as a vibrant city. Being from northern Italy, he’s used to a cold winter. Fr. Mark said they used Skype to do the first interview and Andrea was coming to New York City to represent the Church in an ecumenical meeting for young people, so that’s how they got him to Boston for another interview. But there was still a lot of work to do to overcome the immigration issues and get a work visa.
Andrea said he’s living in Braintree now, but he’s going to be visiting the North End and see how he likes it. He said he can read Spanish, but not speak it, but he’s the Latin expert in the office. Fr. Mark said that’s very important because much of the correspondence that comes from Rome is in Latin. Andrea said he’s studied 11 years of Latin in both lower grades at at the university.
Scot noted that an important part of the job is to understand the culture in the US, including how people date and get married. Andrea said he’s beginning to learn more, but much of it is universal. The work of the Tribunal helps people to understand the Church’s teaching on marriage and it’s important to be pastoral.
Andrea said he hasn’t had a chance to get to know Boston very much first because he doesn’t have a car and with the blizzard last weekend, but he’s hoping to spend some time visiting the city soon. He said his parents are happy for him, but also sad he’s so far away.
3rd segment: Scot and Andrea talked about the food of northern Italy. He pointed out that they eat mainly rice as starch, instead of pasta. He pointed out that his father had never had pizza before the 1970s, because it was something from southern Italy. They talked about other foods native to northern Italy too.
Scot asked him what his first three weeks of work in the Tribunal have been like. He said he’s in training. Even though canon law is the same throughout the Church, the way the procedures can be applied in particular places can be slightly different in implementation. Fr. Mark pointed out that he has to learn the computer system for tracking the Tribunal’s case, for instance.
They then discussed the upcoming papal conclave and the cardinals who are eligible to vote. Fr. Mark asked about Cardinal Angelo Scola, who appears on many people’s lists of the potential popes. Andrea said Scola is Archbishop of Milan and he’s very popular in that archdiocese. They also discussed Cardinal Bagnasco from Genoa who is head of the Italian bishops’ conference. Cardinal Ravasi is prefect of the Pontifical Congregation for Culture, who is known for his ability to speak to a secularized culture. He will be leading the papal Lenten retreat next week which all the curial cardinals will be participating in, which could raise his profile as papabile. Andrea said he’s not particularly invested in the next pope being Italian, just that the Holy Spirit chooses the best candidate.
Andrea talked about Rome as the center of the Church, and the Vatican as a people watching place. They also talked about their favorite churches in Rome.
4th segment: Now as we do every week at this time, we will consider the Mass readings for this Sunday, specifically the Gospel reading.
- Gospel for the First Sunday of Lent, February 17, 2013 (Luke 4:1-13)
Filled with the Holy Spirit, Jesus returned from the Jordan
and was led by the Spirit into the desert for forty days,
to be tempted by the devil.
He ate nothing during those days,
and when they were over he was hungry.
The devil said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
command this stone to become bread.”
Jesus answered him,
“It is written, One does not live on bread alone.”
Then he took him up and showed him
all the kingdoms of the world in a single instant.
The devil said to him,
“I shall give to you all this power and glory;
for it has been handed over to me,
and I may give it to whomever I wish.
All this will be yours, if you worship me.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It is written:
You shall worship the Lord, your God,
and him alone shall you serve.”
Then he led him to Jerusalem,
made him stand on the parapet of the temple, and said to him,
“If you are the Son of God,
throw yourself down from here, for it is written:
He will command his angels concerning you, to guard you,
With their hands they will support you,
lest you dash your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him in reply,
“It also says,
You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test.”
When the devil had finished every temptation,
he departed from him for a time.
Scot said we all pray in the Our Father to be lead away from temptation. Here Jesus shows us how the Devil tempts him. We are tempted too, by bodily needs, by ambition, and to test God. We try to put conditions on our relationship with God. We all will battle with these in our lives. Fr. Mark said they parallel the temptations of the Israelites in the desert. He pointed out the temptations put to Jesus are the temptations put to Israel in the desert and Jesus succeeds where they failed.
Scot said Jesus is in the desert for 40 days. He did that to prepare himself to better serve the mission the Father had for him. That’s the purpose of Lent to give us a fresh beginning in life, to be able to respond in new and better ways to God. Andrea said Lent is a good time to prepare for Christ’s Resurrection and our own resurrection one day.
Fr. Mark said his favorite part of Lent is that he challenges himself, that he fails and tries again. Andrea said for him it is Ash Wednesday, when we are just starting. Scot said his favorite part is the fasting and the discipline, but by the time he gets four weeks in, he can’t wait for Easter.