Summary of today’s show: Continuing our coverage from Rome, Scot Landry talks with Fr. Roger Landry about celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica in the early morning, the latest developments as the College of Cardinals continue their daily meetings, and what criteria he thinks the cardinals are using to discern who they will vote for to become the next pope. Then Scot is joined by Francesco Cesareo, president of Assumption College in Worcester, who just opened a Rome campus and who gave his impressions of where the Church is heading in this time of transition.
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Today’s host(s): Scot Landry
Today’s guest(s): Fr. Roger Landry, Francesco Cesareo, George Martell
Links from today’s show:
Today’s topics: Latest Developments LIVE from Rome; Celebrating Mass in St. Peter’s; Criteria for the Next Pope; Assumption College in Rome
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Fr. Roger Landry to the show. Fr. Roger is in Rome to provide expert commentary for EWTN and others. Scot said he and Fr. Roger rose early this morning to go to St. Peter’s where Fr. Roger celebrate Mass. Fr. Roger said he spent his first year as a priest in Rome and was a guide in St. Peter’s Basilica and his tomb, so anytime he has a chance to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s is a great thrill for him. It brings him back to his one, holy, catholic, and apostolic faith.
Scot asked how it works for a Mass to celebrate Mass in St. Peter’s. Fr. Roger said usually a priest has to show a document that shows he’s in good standing to celebrate Mass in another diocese, but at St. Peter’s if the priest speaks Italian and appears to know what he’s doing, he’s given the benefit of the doubt. But any priest can walk into the sacristy and ask to say Mass. They have many altars and the appropriate books in many other languages. They are brought out to one of the available altars and today they were brought to the altar of the Sacred Heart. Scot said this altar is to the left of the main altar. Fr. Roger said you can always request a particular altar if it’s free, but today he just let them choose it for him. He said his preferred altar is that of Pope St. Leo the Great to whom Fr. Roger has a special devotion.
Scot said he loves when traveling to Rome is get in St. Peter’s by 6:45am so he can be there before it becomes what he calls a “holy museum”. At 7am it is used for what it was mainly built for, which is to be a house of prayer. Fr. Roger said Jesus said His Father’s house must be a house of prayer and so that time between 7 and 9 in the morning when only Mass is allowed is what it is. Tours and tourists aren’t allowed in that time. Fr. Roger said in 2000, whenever Pope John Paul II was having an event in St. Peter’s Square, the church was empty and so Fr. Roger would come in by a back door and many times he was the only priest in the basilica. Every time he returns to the basilica those sentiments from the beginning of his priesthood come flooding back.
Scot asked how someone who happens to be in Rome might be able to find a Mass at St. Peter’s at 7am. Fr. Roger said many people wait outside the entrance to the sacristy and wait to see priests come out and ask, “Mass in English?” Or they could go into the outer sacristy and ask the sacristan at the desk if there was a Mass in English.
Fr. Roger is a pastor of St. Bernadette Parish in Fall River, but he was asked by Raymond Arroyo of EWTN to come and be one of his three color commentators for all the events. They began their broadcasting earlier today with a prayer service with the cardinals at the basilica and every day until the first Mass of the new Holy Father. He’s also doing a lot of writing while in Rome for the Diocese of Fall River’s newspaper, The Anchor, as well as a daily column for the New Bedford Standard Times. He’s been asked to be on TV on some of the local Boston stations as well as some of the national networks for some ad hoc interviews so that people back home can understand what’s happening and so someone at home can be connected through him to the events in Rome.
Scot said three events happened today. First, the cardinals met in their General Congregation this morning. They decided at that meeting that cardinals will not speak to the media or through their Twitter accounts or blogs until the end of the conclave. And then there was a prayer service at 5pm Rome time. Fr. Roger said the cardinals themselves are praying individually and as a body are praying. What they will be doing in the Sistine Chapel is primarily an act of discernment to determine who it is that God wants to be Benedict XVI’s successor. First they pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment, but also every Catholic has a similar responsibility to pray for the Holy Spirit to illumine the cardinals. The cardinals explicitly asked for our help. He said Pope Benedict in his weekly teachings this past year talked about the Church being in prayer together. The Church in every continent should be united in prayer asking for God to give us the successor to St. Peter.
Scot said many of the Boston media will be arriving later this week, but with the lack of cardinals’ availability they will be looking for stories now. Scot asked Fr. Roger why he thinks there’s so much interest from secular media from around the world. Fr. Roger said he thinks most media organizations, whether conscious of it or not, recognize that the new pope isn’t just important to Catholics, but is enormously important to the whole world. He is the recognized moral leader of the world. In the midst of so much injustice and poverty, a holy pope makes a big difference in bringing justice, peace, and material and spiritual well-being to the world.
Many commentators mentioned that it was Blessed John Paul II’s influence that led to the fall of Communism. He asked Fr. Roger what he thought Benedict’s non-religious contribution to the world was. Fr. Roger said he gave four tremendous addresses on the proper role of politics and religion in helping political deliberations guided by the light of the truth of the human person. Those were given in London, Berlin, and Washington, DC. It clarified for many statesmen what their vocation is. The second thing he will be credited for is his tremendous concern for the natural environment. He focused the lenses of the world on that issue and motivated many in the Church to take it seriously because previously many Catholics were turned off by the pantheistic tendencies in the Green movement.
Scot said the work of the General Congregations continues. He asked what is happening as the cardinals prepare for the conclave. Fr. Roger said in these daily meetings, the cardinals have certain business of running the Church, then some speeches that are supposed to be five minutes and they share their thoughts about the real issues facing the Church. It’s also a time for certain figures to shine and others to fade a bit as cardinals whittle down the number of candidates to a few.
Fr. Roger said the custom is that they will first listen to the elder cardinals, but any cardinal could speak even more than once. Anyone who wants to share his thoughts is permitted. It’s one of the reasons they are sworn to secrecy so they can pour out their hearts. This all continues until the date they set for the conclave to begin.
The American cardinals said this week that one of the general topics is the issue of governance of the Vatican. Scot asked what other issues they’ll discuss. Fr. Roger said it will be the spreading of the Gospel in the context of secularism or official atheism or religious suppression; the explosive growth of the faith in developing nations; and how the Church will be most effective in caring out the mission Christ entrusted to us. All other issues are derivative of this issue.
Scot asked how the list of papabile has evolved, both the public list and what the cardinals themselves might be thinking. Fr. Roger said in 2005 the list put together by pundits varied greatly from the list of those the cardinals themselves were talking about. This time, the pundits have most of the names that are being considered because the criteria this time are pretty clear in terms of who is needed. First, he has to a devout disciple and ardent apostle; affable and amiable; enthusiastic about proclaiming the Gospel; someone people could look to as a model of holiness. Fr. Roger said in any organization there are those who fully live it and those who fall short. He said he doesn’t think it will be a very shy person. They want someone who can explain the faith in ways most Catholics can grasp. Someone who has temper or anger issues probably wouldn’t be considered. It is the character of the man in his virtues and strengths to be looked at first. This is more important than his race or national origin.
Second, he has to have many languages. Fr. Roger thinks he has to have Italian, English, Spanish, French. Scot asked how many speak those languages and Fr. Roger said about 40, most of them Europeans or biblical scholars. Among those 40, some would not have the other criteria.
The third criterion is that he be physically vigorous, probably someone under 72. After John Paul’s illness and Benedict’s retirement and the brutal daily schedule, the next pope needs to be more vigorous.
The fourth criterion is someone who is capable administratively of governing the Vatican and capable of creating a model for the Church and so someone who’s worked in a diocese someplace and demonstrated an effectiveness in those area. This follows on the various administrative scandals in the Vatican and so they want someone talented enough that he could choose the right collaborators and effectively carry out his governing duties so it wouldn’t suck up all of his time.
Scot said these are fairly knowable characteristics, apart from the first one. So how many of the 115 cardinals based on these are serious candidates. Fr. Roger thinks there are 15 candidates who are likely to be chosen.
Fr. Roger said it’s okay to root for someone you know who would be good provided it’s not excessive. We want to be able to cheer and be grateful for whomever the cardinals select. He noted that no one was rooting for Pope John Paul II and never even believed he could be chosen. He said there might be someone even better than the one we are rooting for.
Fr. Roger will be live on EWTN starting at 2pm Eastern and re-aired each night at 9pm.
2nd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Jeanne Clancy from Methuen
She wins We Have A Pope! by Karen Congeni
If you would like to be eligible to win in an upcoming week, please visit WQOM.org. For a one-time $30 donation, you’ll receive the Station of the Cross benefactor card and key tag, making you eligible for WQOM’s weekly raffle of books, DVDs, CDs and religious items. We’ll be announcing the winner each Wednesday during “The Good Catholic Life” program.
3rd segment: Scot welcomed Francesco Cesareo, president of Assumption College, as they stood outside St. Peter’s Square. Francesco said the college just opened a new campus in Rome as a study abroad program. he said all students regardless of major will be able to come study there. They will be steeped in the history of the Church a few steps away from St. Peter’s. He said their hope is that the students will come home with a greater appreciation for their faith.
Francesco gave a brief history of the college and a summary of the breadth of education and how they emphasize the formation of the whole human person. Scot noted that there are 11 colleges in Worcester. Francesco said the city has about 35,000 college students and offers many cultural, work, and educational opportunities for students.
He said he’s been president for six years and talked about his priorities of re-focusing education on the liberal arts and to integrate into the Catholic intellectual tradition so students learn how to live out their faith in all aspects of their lives.
Scot asked his sense of what it’s like to be in Rome this week. He said it’s a time for Catholics to come together and pray for the cardinals. What strikes him is the continuity of the life of the Church and how the Church has always gone through transitions. In those transitions the Church has focused on what is needed by the Church in this particular moment and the Holy Spirit gives to the Church the right man for the right time.
The Church has gone through trials and always comes through stronger and formed in a way that makes the Church a true light in the world.
Scot asked how the resignation of Benedict XVI changes things for the next Pope. Francesco said the open question is how one leads the Church when his predecessor is still living. Will it affect his decision-making when he decides to move in a way that is perceived as moving away from the emphasis of his predecessor. He said there hasn’t been a real papal resignation since Pope St. Celestine in 1294. It’s too early to tell what this resignation means. What it does is place an emphasis on the institution itself. It shows the work of the institution is greater than any one man.
Francesco said he hopes that the next pope continues the emphasis on the New Evangelization in order to reverse the decline especially in the West. He hopes he will continue the liturgical reforms of Benedict because our liturgical life needs to be done with a sense of mystery and beauty. He hopes he will bring the message of the Gospel to all the ends of the earth, someone who’s visible and who excites the young people who are the life of the Church in a particular way. Francesco said the secular press looks at the Church from the lens they understand, which is secular governments, and so they focus a great deal of attention on governance of the Vatican, but the Holy Father’s principal duty is to be a teacher and shepherd of the flock.
Francesco said he doesn’t think any American truly has a chance because the moral authority of the Holy Father could be compromised if he came from the United States. While there are some wonderful US cardinals, but the USA’s prominent position in the economic and political life of the world, it could compromise his ability to speak as he must.
4th segment: Scot welcomed George Martell to the show. George said it was awesome to return to St. Peter’s. He had been there with his wife a few years ago. Before Mass he was able to walk around and reminisce and take some special pictures from angles you can’t usually get and without any people in them.
Many of the photos are available on BostonCatholicPhotos.com
Scot reminded listeners in Boston that The Light Is On For You is tonight where every church and chapel will be open for confessions from 6 to 8:30pm. Check out: