Summary of today’s show: Our usual Thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Gregory Tracy, and Fr. Roger Landry looked at the news headlines of the week, which were again dominated by Pope Benedict’s resignation, including the schedule of the pope’s final week; his biographer’s assessment of the pope’s health and state of mind; appraisal of his legacy; and the buzz surrounding Cardinal Seán. Also the Rite of Election at the cathedral and making a retreat for Lent.
Listen to the show:
Watch the show via live video streaming or a recording later: BostonCatholicLive.com
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: Latest news on Pope Benedict’s resignation and the upcoming conclave
- 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.
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Susan Abbott and Fr. Roger Landry to the show. They discussed how much they would love to go to Rome for the conclave. They also discussed how we still do not know when the conclave will begin. Susan said the excitement and emotions have been high over the past week as we prepare to say goodbye to Pope Benedict and consider the possibilities for the next pope.
Scot said that on Friday at noon on WQOM and at BostonCatholicLive.com, Cardinal Sean will celebrate a Mass for the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter, commemorating the prayers for Pope Benedict and recalling that as the anniversary of the date in 2006 when Pope Benedict named Cardinal Seán as a cardinal. Fr. Roger recalled being in the papal audience on that day with a group from Fall River and hearing Cardinal Seán’s name called.
- “Pope considering last-minute changes to conclave rules, Vatican says”, CNS, 2/21/13
- “Biographer: In past six months, pope was ‘exhausted and disheartened’”, CNS, 2/18/13
- “Buzz grows in Rome for Boston’s O’Malley”, John Allen, National Catholic Reporter, 2/19/13
- “Knights of Columbus launch Twitter prayer campaign for Pope”, Catholic News Agency, 2/19/13
- Pope Benedict XVI’s Twitter account
- “History may hold clues in divining impact of resignation, expert says”, CNS, 2/18/13
- “Precedent and sacrifice: Papal decision offers options for future”, CNS, 2/14/13
Scot gave the latest news on the final activities planned for Pope Benedict from Vatican press office. The pope’s Lenten retreat ends this week. On Sunday will be his last Angelus in St. Peter’s Square. On Wednesday will be his final general audience in St. Peter’s Square. They expect a very large crowd to be present. On Feb. 28, he will greet all the cardinals present in Rome, including those coming to Rome from outside. At 5pm, he will greet the Cardinal Secretary of State, go to the Vatican heliport, bid farewell to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, and fly to Castel Gandolfo where he will be greeted by dignitaries. He will appear on the balcony of the apostolic palace to greet faithful there. They added that the College of Cardinals will set the date of the conclave, independent of any further law promulgated by the Pope before then.
Fr. Roger talked about his surprise that a date for the conclave hasn’t been set because he will be providing commentary for EWTN in Rome and can’t make his plans yet. He said the according to the current rules, the date of the conclave would occur between March 15 and March 20 as determined by the College of Cardinals. But the pope could by a motu proprio give the cardinals a chance to change the starting date.
Scot said originally the 15 day period was to give time for all cardinals to travel to Rome after the death of the pope, but if they’re all there already when he steps down, then perhaps he will allow them to set the time to begin earlier. Susan said the Church moves slowly, isn’t rushed and is deliberate. But there’s an efficiency here as well for cardinals to return to their dioceses well before Holy Week.
In other news this week, the pope’s biographer Peter Seewald said when he met with the Holy Father last summer and among other things he said the Holy Father seemed drained of energy and seemed greatly disheartened at the time. He said at the time that he’s an old man and he’s done enough. He’d said that his most recently published book would be his last. He also said the pope is blind in one eye and his hearing is greatly diminished.
Greg added that Seewald also puts to rest ideas that there’s some hidden secret scandal. Fr. Roger said Seewald has an excellent reputation as a journalist and has done three book-length interviews with the pope from when he was Cardinal Ratzinger. He’s known as a tough interviewer.
Scot noted George Weigel’s syndicated column this week on the “Legacy of Pope Benedict XVI” in which he noted his accomplishments in his papacy:
- Secured the authoritative interpretation of Vatican II
- Helped close the door on the Counter-Reformation Church
- Accelerated the reform of the liturgical reform
- Provided an astute analysis of contemporary democracy’s discontents and the 21st century issues between Islam and the rest
- Was a master catechist and teacher
He also noted that the Pope wanted to rid the church of the filth of sexual abuse, but the work of reconstruction remains to be completed. He said the next pope must be more severe than his predecessor in dealing with bishops complicit in abuse cover-up. He said he also had not completed the wholesale reform of the Roman Curia that is necessary. And in Europe, the task of its re-evangelization remains an urgent task.
Susan and Scot talked about these priorities. Fr. Roger said on the curial reform that he thinks Weigel was referring to the corruption that involves problems not getting fixed and that this affects almost all institutions in Italy. As opposed to seeking efficiency, the classic Italian bureaucracy values loyalty and “family”. He gave several examples of nepotism and favoritism.
Scot said this week there was growing buzz internationally speculating that Cardinal Seán could become the next pope. He asked Greg what he makes of this. Nearly every media outlet in Boston has had multiple stories on this topic and so Greg included a story in the Pilot on this. He said John Allen’s piece was a good summation of what people are talking about. Greg himself has said that Cardinal Seán would make a great pope. He is a little surprised at the furor of the media coverage. They discussed the qualities that had been bandied about regarding Cardinal Seán. Greg wondered if all this speculation would sway any cardinal in the conclave. Susan said she had thought Cardinal Seán had the qualities to be a great pope, but was hidden in plain sight and hidden no longer.
Scot asked Fr. Roger where the assumption that an American could never be elected pope comes from. Fr. Roger said the first American cardinal was in the late 1800s for one thing. But some of the assumptions include the fact that most Americans couldn’t speak the minimum of four languages necessary: Italian, English, Spanish, French, while Latin is assumed. He talked about how he and Cardinal Seán wrote letters to each in Latin when the cardinal was bishop of Fall River. The second assumption was the most American cardinals until recently had the reputation of being businessmen running massive corporations of hospitals, schools, and parishes, but not having the theological gravitas. However, Cardinal Seán has that gravitas.
Scot said he asks all listeners to pray specifically for Cardinal Seán in the media spotlight, especially since he doesn’t love that part of being a leader in the Church. Scot said he knows that Cardinal only wants to do the Lord’s will, and he speculates that Pope Benedict on his election prayed that this burden not be placed on him, but the Lord’s will be done.
Scot said another story in the Pilot this week covered the Rite of Election at the cathedral last weekend, in which 540 people braved the snowstorm for this event. Greg said the Rite of Election and the Call for Continuing Conversion is for those who are not Christian, but preparing for baptism at Easter, as well as those who are baptized and not catechized. Each of the catechumens sign their name in the Book of the Elect. They literally sign their name to the proposition that they are willing to follow Christ. They talked about what it is like for the people to come to the cathedral, to meet the bishop, to see the diversity of people coming into the Church.
Also in the news, was the death of Fr. James Degnan at 83 years old. And the story in the Pilot on the launch of the 2013 Catholic Appeal. Scot ran down more of the stories in the Pilot and in the Anchor.
Fr. Roger wrote in his column about how Lent is a great time to go on retreat. You can go away to a retreat center, participate in a parish mission, or even some new virtual online retreats.