Summary of today’s show: For our regular Thursday review of the week’s news, Scot Landry, Susan Abbott, Fr. Roger Landry, and Gregory Tracy looked at this week’s headlines, including the upcoming Divine Mercy Sunday and how the topic of mercy is emerging as a defining theme of Pope Francis’ papacy; a brief summary of the Diviner Mercy devotion; and how Pope Francis’ pick for Vatican Secretary of State will launch the much-expected reform of the Vatican Curia.
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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: Divine Mercy; Vatican Secretary of State and reform of the Vatican
1st segment: Scot Landry welcomed Susan Abbott, Gregory Tracy, and Fr. Roger Landry to the show. Fr. Roger said this week he was conducting a priests’ retreat with priests from around the country, as they recuperated from the work of Holy Week and Easter. Susan said her Triduum was of course wonderful as it should be. Greg said his whole family was together on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, and he and his wife were at the cathedral at the Easter Vigil without the kids, but with the Neocatechumenal Way.
Fr. Roger said the first time celebrating Holy Week in his new parish in Fall River was a little more work so he could work together with everyone who has been doing the things the same way for years. He said Good Friday is the toughest day because priests are fasting, but are going all day long with various services. On Holy Saturday he tried to rest. He then told a story of his Easter Vigil in which the fire for the liturgy went out but then spontaneously erupted.
Scot said in his column this week in the Anchor, Fr. Roger wrote that Pope Francis wants the fruit of Easter to go beyond our heads to extend to our hearts. Fr. Roger said Pope Francis talked on Easter that love is triumphant. The truth of God’s mercy has to be in our heart, so our heart believes what our head grasps. We have to internalize it. The column was an introduction to Pope Francis’ teachings on mercy. He said in the book-length Spanish-language biography of Pope Francis, “The Jesuit”, he had talked about Jesus as the One who had saved us, yet so many of us are distant from the experience of gratitude for what Christ did for us. He noted that 74% of Catholics in the US never go to receive the Sacrament of Confession. Never. We’re so supposed to go at least once per year and even more if possible. He said Christ appeared to St. Faustina in Poland in the 1930s as the Divine Mercy to ensure that His mercy isn’t forgotten and that we should be open to it as much as possible.
Scot asked Susan as a religious education professional how we can help people go from head-knowledge about Christ to knowing him in our hearts. She said that Pope John Paul II said catechesis is first about formation, secondly about information. It can’t just be facts we know in our head. The Hebrew word for “know” means to be “seated in the heart.” We need to know dogma and doctrine, but we also have to have a relationship with Jesus Christ. When she works with adults in formation, they save the lesson on sacramental reconciliation for the second half of the process. She said the people from her parish who were baptized at the Easter vigil had sins fully forgiven and so on Tuesday she emphasized with them that going forward they need to know that reconciliation is a great gift and an obligation.
Scot said Cardinal Dolan said to the bishops last year that the sacrament of the new evangelization is the sacrament of confession and in recent weeks Pope Francis has talked often of the need for Christ’s mercy and how He reaches out to us. He said it’s going to be a frequent message in his papacy that we need to accept Jesus as our savior, which changes the nature of our relationship with God. Greg talked about people who say Catholics are too hung up on sin, but the reality is that if we don’t recognize our sins and what Christ has saved us from, then we have even more reason to be glad and to see what He has done for us.
Fr. Roger said Pope Francis’ motto clearly points to the fact that mercy will be a center point of his papacy. His motto “Miserando Atque Eligendo” comes Bl. Venerable Bede and shows that his vocation was born in an experience of God’s mercy, when as a 16-year-old boy he went to confession on the Feast of St. Matthew. Pope Francis told us in his first homily that God will tire in offering his forgiveness, but that we often tire of asking for forgiveness.
Scot asked Fr. Roger to give a brief summary of the Divine Mercy devotion and why the second Sunday of Easter is now Divine Mercy Sunday. Fr. Roger said when Jesus appeared to St. Faustina he specifically asked this Sunday to be set aside for Divine Mercy. The Gospel reading for that Sunday deals with Jesus giving the power to bind and loose sins to the apostles and thus the ability to hear confessions. Jesus revealed five practices to St. Faustina five practices to help us grow in the knowledge of Divine Mercy: acknowledging the three o’clock hour each day; praying the Divine Mercy chaplet; venerate the image of Divine Mercy; pray a novena of Divine Mercy leading up to Divine Mercy Sunday; and mark Divine Mercy Sunday with special devotion. Scot noted that the national Shrine for Divine Mercy is just a few hours away in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. Greg said it’s run by the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and he’s gone a few times.
2nd segment: Scot said even before the conclave, in addition to the question of who would be the next pope, there was also the question of who the next pope would pick as Secretary of State to begin the reform of the Vatican Curia that so many people say is needed.
Catholic News Service has published this article dealing with the question of who Pope Francis will pick. Greg said the Secretary of State is not like the US Secretary of State, but he’s more like a vicar general of the archdiocese or the prime minister in a parliament who does the daily function of governance, while the head of state is a president or monarch. Greg said there’s a lot of talk of the position going to an Italian as a consolation prize that an Italian didn’t become pope. It could also be invaluable because of the close relations with Italy, but also because so much of the curia is an Italian. There’s also a lot of talk of choosing an outsider from outside the curia.
Three different Italians being talked about are Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello, president of the commission governing Vatican City State; Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, who served under Cardinal Bertone for four years as the “substitute” in charge of the church’s internal affairs; Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; and Cardinal Maria Vigano, formerly the second-highest official in Vatican City State and now the pope’s nuncio in Washington, DC.
Fr. Roger said after this conclave with its unexpected results, the speculation in the media needs to be tempered in light of that so the fact that these names are mentioned doesn’t mean that’s who Pope Francis is thinking about. The new secretary needs to be able to work closely with Pope Francis and there needs to be a complementary. He needs to be a sign of contradiction, willing to make some people mad in the course of reform. He needs to be very well organized, capable of bringing about a culture that’s organized and efficient. The corruption of the curia isn’t moral, but mainly a corruption of inefficiency. There’s also a corruption of nepotism, where connections and personal trust are more important than a lower bid. The new secretary, as chief foreign minister, must also be capable of working in diplomatic circles. The current secretary, Cardinal Bertone only speaks Spanish or Italian.
Scot asked Susan why she thinks this is such a high-profile position where in the recent past most Catholics would have no clue such a position even existed. Susan said there’s an awareness now that people want to know what’s going on.
Greg said this decision will be seen as an indicator of the trajectory of Pope Francis’ papacy, especially since there was such emphasis on the need for reform in the run up to the conclave. He said it’s akin to the attention paid to a new US president’s first picks for his cabinet.
Fr. Roger said he’s not surprised that the appointment hasn’t come yet. You wouldn’t do that during Holy Week to avoid taking the focus off what’s more important. It’s also a sign he didn’t know exactly who he wanted and wanted time to think about it. Fr. Roger noted that Cardinal Filoni and Cardinal Harvey were on the Pope’s schedule today. He would be surprised if the appointment doesn’t come within a month.
Scot said he was surprised to learn that the Pope has never used a computer or even sent an email himself. He said he also admitted that he’s tone-deaf,which is why he doesn’t sing or chant during Mass or prayers. He gets all his news through printed newspapers, which Greg said we all should do.