Summary of today’s show: Our usual Thursday panel of Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy consider the news headlines of the week, including the latest examples of humility and simplicity from Pope Francis; how he chose his papal name; his decision to celebrate Holy Thursday in a juvenile prison; the appointment of five more pastors for pastoral collaboratives as part of the Disciples in Mission pastoral plan; the obituaries of two senior priests; and remarkable pro-life essays from grade school contest winners.
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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: Pope Francis’ humility; choosing his name; new pastors for pastoral collaboratives
1st segment: Scot Landry caught up with Susan Abbott after not being together on the show for three weeks. Scot asked Susan how she watched the events here at the Pastoral Center. Susan said the days all blur together because every day there’s a new story about Pope Francis that captures our attention. She said it was a busy time for everyone in the building on Disciples in Mission and Lent, but when the white smoke came out, there were yells in the halls and everyone stood around a computer watching a webcam of St. Peter’s Square. Everyone gathered in the lobby of the Pastoral Center to watch it on TV.
Scot said there’s been a lot to cover since the election a week ago last Wednesday. The Pilot this week has a lot in a special issue this week. Gregory Tracy said they had a 16-page special edition in the center of the Pilot, which makes it almost two papers this week. The focus of the special edition is giving a perspective on Pope Francis and re-capping his first days. Greg said he learned a lot about Pope Francis because Cardinal Bergoglio wasn’t among the most talked-about names. His impression is of his humility and that he is a bit of a free spirit.
Scot welcomed Fr. Roger Landry and said his column in the Anchor this week gives his first impressions. Fr. Roger said he’s a pastor more than a professor. He’s obviously intelligent, but brings his experience of being archbishop of Buenos Aires for so many years. One thing that touched Fr. Roger was seeing a boy in the Vatican choir school singing the responsory psalm during the inauguration Mass, which shows how young the Church is. He also notes how serious Pope Francis is in begging for our prayers. At the end of every talk, he asks for our prayers.
He shows us what type of reform he’s planning for the Church. When you hear all the talk of reform in the Vatican, people meant administrative and finance and governance issues, but Pope Francis is launching a reform at the root of who he is as a disciple and apostle. He’s set an example of the reform of the priesthood to go out and meet the people where they’re at. He’s going to challenge us by his actions even more than John Paul and Benedict.
Scot said he recalled yesterday’s show about the book “Rebuilt” about a parish that went looking for the lost sheep. It’s been clear to Scot that Pope Francis thinks about going out seeking the lost. Scot said it’s clear to him that many people are taking a new look at the Church because of Pope Francis and he’s reaching a much broader audience.
Greg said it’s obvious Pope Francis is one who feels the need to reach out and be with the people. He recalled a story in Argentina where he told his parish priests to go out and find those who weren’t coming to church, maybe even opening storefront chapels. His priority is finding souls, not necessarily following all the ways that things have been done. He’s much more concerned with practicality. We had this flow from John Paul, with a great media presence, to Benedict, a great theologian, to Francis who isn’t as great with media or as great a theologian, but is good with both and with bringing those things to the people.
Scot said Pope Francis is about making a Church that prays for one another. Susan said that first moment when the Pope came on the balcony and just stood there. But once he got started, he captivated the entire square of 100,000 people and they fell silent. He reminds us to whom we pray and for whom we pray.
Scot asked Fr. Roger what he’s learned reading about Pope Francis in Spanish materials. Fr. Roger said he sees how intelligent he is, able to talk about many different issues with deeply Catholic vision. He also struggled with his celibacy in the seminary, falling in love with a girl and deciding to that he loved God more. It’s a beautiful and sincere admission and it allows him to relate to a lot of young people. In another interview, he gives a very strong statement on dealing with priests who abuse children, saying that such priests should be removed because they can’t be reformed and you can’t take chances. As for failures with men or women or alcohol, he is very firm that you can’t serve two masters. His embrace of poverty shows how committed he is personally to this vision even when it was inconvenient. He not only wanted to relate to the poor in material poverty, but also show it’s not an obstacle to following the Lord. While many are focusing on Pope Francis’ tenderness to the overlooked of society, it is a fruit of a lifetime of love for the least, but at the same time he is able to teach with great clarity and firmness.
Scot noted in Dwight Duncan’s column in the Pilot in which he related that when Cardinal Bergoglio was named a cardinal, he didn’t want to pay the usual $6,000 for the complete set of vestments, so he bought cheap cloth and asked a religious sister to sew them. Greg said at the conclave he had been telling other cardinals about how much of a deal he got on his airfare and then told Argentinians not to come to his inauguration, but instead to the give the money to the poor. It’s his legitimate way of being, not putting on airs of false humility. People like this, that he’s not so attached to the material things of the world. It’s not a media strategy, but it has a great effect on people. So much of the western world measures us by what we can buy and what we can consume. We trade our dignity for our consumer goods. But this is a sign that you can be the Supreme Pontiff and yet you can be simple.
Scot said he’s proven himself to be a pope of gestures. Today it was announced that on Holy Thursday, rather than in St. Peter’s, the Mass of the Lord’s Supper will be held at a youth prison where he will wash the feet of inmates. It was Cardinal Bergoglio’s custom to celebrate Holy Thursday in hospitals and prisons. Susan said she celebrated with Deacon Jim Greer, head of hospital and chaplain ministries, at the symbolism of this act. She said Pope Francis has also called the owner of the newsstand in Buenos Aires where he used to get his daily paper to thank him for his prayers and tell him he won’t be coming.
But Susan said what disturbs her is when this is used to compare him to what came before. This is not either-or, but both-and.
Fr. Roger said yesterday it was said announced he had given out 3,000 tickets for the poor of Rome to come to the Holy Thursday Chrism Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica earlier in the day and then going to the prison later. Pope Francis is shining a laser beam on this subset of people of whom Jesus said “I was in prison and you visited me.” There are millions across the globe who will not have Mass on Holy Thursday and this is an extraordinary gesture to them.
Scot said on Saturday in the meeting with journalists, Pope Francis revealed how he picked the name Francis. Scot said he had assumed most cardinals went into the conclave with a name in the back of their minds. He was surprised that Pope Francis only picked the name at the last minute. Greg said he had asked Cardinal Seán that very question, comparing it to young couples who marry thinking about names for their children. Cardinal Seán said he’s never given it any thought. Greg finds it reassuring that they didn’t go with a name picked.
Scot said before there was a lot of buzz about Cardinal Seán, he joked with Cardinal Seán that there was a pool about whether he would pick Pope Patrick or Pope Francis. He thinks it unfathomable that it wouldn’t come up at all somewhere in the back of your mind. This is a name that will define him for eternity and he picked a momentous one.
Susan claims that she had predicted the next pope would be Pope Francis, although she had a different cardinal in mind.
Scot said a number of cardinals have talked about their awareness of the Holy Spirit’s presence with them as they voted. Fr. Roger said Cardinal O’Brien was on EWTN with him the day after and admitted he’d never really known Cardinal Bergoglio before the conclave and what was remarkable how everyone in the conclave came to know that this was the pope for the Church at this time. Many cardinals said it’s very much like a retreat and they’re not kibbitzing between votes.
- Pope Francis Timeline
- “Pope Francis changes Holy Thursday plans to celebrate Mass in prison”, Catholic News Service, 3/21/13
- “Portenos paint Pope Francis as kind, outspoken, good administrator”, Catholic News Service, 3/17/13
- “Pope explains how he chose St. Francis of Assisi’s name”, Catholic News Service, 3/18/13
- “Pope’s episcopal motto comes from homily by English doctor of church”, Catholic News Service, 3/15/13
- “Pope Francis will shake up more than Vatican schedules”, CNA/EWTN News, 3/18/13
2nd segment: This week’s benefactor card raffle winner is Patricia Noone from Stow, MA
She wins the booklet “Way of the Cross at the National Shrine of Divine Mercy” and the audio CD “The Seven Pillars of Catholic Spirituality” by Matthew Kelly.
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 said locally in the archdiocese, five appointments are announced in today’s Pilot of priests being appointed pastors of new pastoral collaboratives as part of Disciples in Mission Phase one.
Fr. Paul E. Ritt has been appointed Pastor of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish and St. Maria Goretti Parish in Lynnfield, effective June 4. He was Pastor of St. John the Evangelist, Chelmsford. Fr. Thomas A. Mahoney has been appointed Pastor of St. Joseph Parish and St. Luke Parish in Belmont, effective June 4. He was Pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Belmont. Fr. Daniel L. Riley has been appointed as Pastor of Immaculate Conception Parish, St. Anne Parish, St. James Parish, and St. John the Baptist Parish, all in Salem, effective June 4. He was Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Weymouth. Fr. John E. Sheridan has been appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Middleboro-Rochester and Pastor of Sts. Martha and Mary Parish in Lakeville, effective June 4. He was Pastor of St. James Parish in Salem. Fr. Brian L. Flynn has been appointed Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and St. Mary Parish in Lynn, effective June 4. He was previously Pastor of St. Mary in Lynn.
Three more appointments related to Phase 1 are still to be made.
Greg said we’re in the initial stages and this is exactly what the archdiocese said would happen: In some cases the pastors would come from within the collaborative and others from outside. Scot said one of the patterns is that a priest who’s been in the parish only a couple years, they will stay, whereas pastors who’ve been there a long time will be moved to new assignments. Susan said everyone in the Pastoral Center are working daily to support the new pastors and their collaboratives.
Greg said when you’re connecting parishes that are near each other, people in recent years have tended to gravitate to the parish they prefer based on how they like the pastor or the music or religious education. When you have someone who’s been in the parish for many years, people become used to him and his style. Meanwhile someone who is new to the area is able to adjust himself to the needs of the area and how they do things.
Scot said it can be difficult on a human level to say goodbye to parishioners when you don’t know what your next assignment will be. Fr. Roger said every priest is supposed to be a missionary at heart. At the same time, canon law gives pastors rights in that they don’t have to move except in extreme circumstances, so it shows great obedience and openness to the needs of the Church in offering their resignations. Fr. Roger noted that people wanted to keep Jesus for themselves, but he told them that he needed to go out and preach to others as well.
Also in the Pilot are the obituaries of two 90-year-old priests, Fr. Joseph Lukas and Fr. William B. O’Connor.
In the Anchor this week were the 2013 Pro-Life Essay Content winners, themed “Faith opens our eyes to human life in all its grandeur and beauty”. The contest is open to all students enrolled in diocesan schools and religious education programs. There are winners in the high school and junior high school categories and they are read aloud at the annual diocesan Pro-Life Mass and printed in the Anchor. Susan said the high school is extraordinary.
Scot said a week from today it won’t be Lent and so Scot asked everyone how they did on their Lenten resolutions.