TCA Radio Podcast – “Conversations With Consequences”

Episode 20: Father Bill Byrne on scandals in the Church and “going forward in joy”

This is the second episode of our special series, “Church on the Ground: Going Forward in Joy.” This week, the TCA’s Grazie Christie, Andrea Piccioti-Bayer, and Maureen Ferguson are joined by Father Bill Byrne, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Potomac, Maryland. The hilarious Father Byrne talks about his own upbringing and Catholic formation, as well as his thoughts on the scandals and the abuse crisis in light of Bishop Barron’s new book, “Letter to a Suffering Church.” And as always, Father Roger Landry offers us a beautiful reflection on this upcoming Sunday’s Gospel.–

1. Coming Face to Face With His Church’s Future.

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, September 6, 2019, Pg. A4

The continent has already become the globe’s most fertile ground for the faithful and priests who are disappearing from Catholicism’s historic centers in Europe. The Roman Catholic Church continues to expand in Africa, even as it faces competition from increasingly popular Pentecostal and evangelical movements.
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The pope’s six-day visit to Africa, with stops in Mozambique, Madagascar and Mauritius, is an opportunity for him to come face to face with the future of his church.

By opening to Africa and appointing more of its bishops as cardinals who will pick his successor, Francis has shown that he sees the traditional “peripheries” of the church as central to its future and its universality.

2. In Africa, Pope urges hearing cries of the poor and the earth itself.

By Inés San Martín, Crux, September 6, 2019

Victims of suffering don’t need intermediaries, Pope Francis told medical personnel who work with some of the most ailing people in Africa on Friday, so much as simple “loving attentiveness” to their cries.

“All of you who, in various ways, are part of this healthcare community thus become a sign of the heart of Jesus, so that no one will think that his or her cry has gone unheard,” Francis said during a visit to a medical center on the outskirts of Maputo, the capital of Mozambique.

Doctors, nurses and other staff at the Zimpeto Center are “a sign of sharing with those in need, and you enable them to sense the active presence of a brother or a sister,” the pope said.

The pontiff also praised the center’s efforts to reduce its ecological footprint, including the use of sustainable methods of energy and gathering and storing water supplies. This concern with environmental impact, Francis said, is a “virtuous mode” and an example to be followed in light of the “urgent situation created by the deterioration of our planet.”

3. Pope brings hope to Madagascar, where 90 percent live below the poverty line.

By Crux Staff, Crux, September 6, 2019

On Friday, Pope Francis was due to touch down in Madagascar, the second leg of his three-nation African trip.

Madagascar, an island country located in the Indian Ocean about 250 miles off the African coast, is one of the world’s poorest countries.

According to the IMF, nearly 90 percent of the people live below the poverty line. This is made worse by the ongoing climate emergency, which has led to more powerful cyclones, prolonged droughts, warmer temperatures, and soil erosion. The country also suffers from periodic outbreaks of bubonic and pneumonic plague, with “plague season” taking place between September and April.

4. Honoring Foster Parents.

By NR Interview, National Review Online, September 6, 2019, 5:30 AM

We need a culture change to encourage and support foster families to give children the stability — and love — they need.

The opioid crisis has made for a foster-care crisis, too, and the child-welfare systems in many states are not conducive to recruiting and retaining foster families. What can be done to attract “the right families” to foster care and keep them? “What would really motivate these foster parents? More money? Or, a modicum of respect from the child welfare system?”

These are questions Naomi Schaefer Riley explores in a new report published by the American Enterprise Institute, “Honor Your (Foster) Mothers and Fathers.” She talks about the paper and her research on foster care and adoption in this interview.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: Whenever the topic of foster parenting comes up, one tends to hear responses like, “It takes a special kind of person” and “Too many people abuse the system.” Is “Honor Your (Foster) Mothers and Fathers” more than a policy paper? Perhaps a plea to nurture a culture that is more conducive to helping children in foster care to get the loving care that they need?

Naomi Schaefer Riley: It is not uncommon to hear people refer to foster parents as “saints.” And why not? These are people who take total strangers, often with clear emotional and behavioral problems, into their homes and treat them as if they were family. But in truth there are tens of thousands of Americans who do foster care every year.

Why are there not more? One reason is certainly the culture. We live in a culture where everyone is trying to raise the perfect child. We live in a culture where everyone is responsible for their own nuclear family. The kind of support network that’s necessary to care for a child with greater needs is often not there.

Despite all that, I think more people would do foster care if our government agencies didn’t treat them so badly. What is it like to do foster care? The people I interview say it has brought them the greatest joy and the deepest sadness. It’s also like spending seven hours a week at the DMV. Between child-welfare workers and family court, foster parents report that they are treated like glorified babysitters. And frankly, most people treat their babysitters better.

5. Mother Teresa and Us.

By NR Interview, National Review Online, September 6, 2014, 8:00 AM

‘Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta was probably the most familiar Christian face of our generation,” Los Angeles archbishop José Gomez writes in his foreword to The Love That Made Mother Teresa: How Her Secret Visions and Dark Nights Can Help You Conquer the Slums of Your Heart by David Scott. “Her works of love, done for the abandoned and forsaken in a remote city in India, made hers a household name the world over,” Archbishop Gomez continues.

Scott, who has had a distinguished career in Catholic journalism and is the author of many books on religion, now works with Archbishop Gomez in Los Angeles. He talks about Mother Teresa, Pope Francis, saintliness, and more in an interview with Kathryn Jean Lopez, senior fellow at the National Review Institute and editor-at-large of National Review Online.

Kathryn Jean Lopez: You write that “unlike any saint before her, Mother Teresa was sent by God, not to her isolated nation or region, but to the whole world.” How so? And how can anyone ever be certain anyone has been sent by God? Is there a tracking receipt or website the world is not aware of?

David Scott: Well, when you put it that way, it does sound presumptuous, doesn’t it! You’re right, of course. Who am I to say who’s been “sent” by God and who hasn’t?

What I’m trying to do in this book is kind of a spiritual interpretation of history. I don’t claim to know what God’s thinking but I’m working with a few clues we know from the Bible and Catholic tradition.

We know that God sends prophets into the world. Jeremiah, Isaiah — they were both told the same basic message: “Before I formed you in the womb . . . I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” Then we have those beautiful words from the beginning of Ephesians, where St. Paul is talking to ordinary Christians, and says that before the foundation of the world, God destined us in love to be his children.

So my assumption — maybe my presumption — is that if God has a plan for every soul, and if he sends some people to carry a specific message at specific times and places in history, then it’s reasonable to ask what “message” God is trying to send in the life of Mother Teresa and other saints.

When we think about Mother Teresa’s life in these terms, it raises some interesting questions. Here is this little nun, working in some far-off corner of the world. What she’s doing — caring for the sick and dying, praying and going to Mass — is not much different than what thousands of nuns, priests, and lay people are doing every day in different parts of the world.

Yet, for some reason, out of all these missionaries and Church workers, Mother Teresa becomes a household name, and her face becomes universally recognizable. Why? That’s one of the questions I’m asking in the book.

6. Knowing What We Are Doing.

By Fr. Roger J. Landry, The Anchor, September 6, 2019
Fr. Roger J. Landry is a priest of the Diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts and the National Chaplain of Catholic Voices USA.

Today, September 6, I have the privilege to offer Mass for the 10,00th time as a priest. It’s a great source of thanksgiving for me.

Such an approach toward Jesus’ self-giving in the Eucharist is not just for priests. When I prepare young people for their first holy communion, I emphasize that the most important aspect of the experience is not the “first” but the “communion.” I tell them that the “second” is just as important, as is every subsequent communion. Once in a while one of them will come to me some time later and say something moving like, “Father, today is my 100th holy communion!” Such a comment reveals the type of eagerness and appreciation for the Gift and the Giver that all believers should have when approaching holy communion. Whether or not they keep track, it shows how precious each Mass is.

Jesus’ words about how we would eat his flesh and drink his blood would finally make better sense a year later, when during the Last Supper, Jesus would take bread and wine, change it into his body and blood, and say, “Take and eat,” “Take and drink.” He kept the appearances of bread and wine, it seems, so that we would not be nauseated eating something that looked like human body parts rather than something reminiscent of normal food. They knew, however, that he who had changed water into wine in Cana was certainly capable of changing wine into blood. They would then become ministers of that miracle.

Today, September 6, I have the awesome privilege of being Christ’s instrument to bring about that wondrous transubstantiation for the 10,000th  time — as I continue to strive to know what I’m doing and imitate what I’m celebrating.

7. Pope to Mozambique after new accord: ‘Courage brings peace’.

By Nicole Winfield and Helena Alves, The Associated Press, September 5, 2019

Pope Francis praised Mozambique’s president and opposition leader Thursday for their courage in signing a landmark new peace accord, as he opened a visit to the southern African nation by calling for a future where reconciliation, hope and sustainable development become “weapons of peace.”

Francis opened the day with private meeting with President Felipe Nyusi at the presidential palace. Afterward, he delivered a speech to government authorities and warmly greeted the leader of the armed opposition Renamo, Ossufo Momade, who signed the accord with Nyusi last month and was among the invited guests at the palace.

When Nyusi addressed Momade as “my brother” in his opening speech, Momade stood up from the audience and was applauded.

8. Buffalo bishop says he won’t resign after 2nd aide defects.

The Associated Press, September 5, 2019

The head of Buffalo’s Roman Catholic Diocese is resisting calls to resign after his former secretary secretly recorded him discussing a priest’s alleged sexual harassment of a seminarian and fretting about his own future.

It is the second time that a key member of Bishop Richard Malone’s staff has gone public with concerns about his handling of reports of clergy misconduct.

Malone responded during a news conference on Wednesday, telling reporters that while the Rev. Ryszard Biernat’s decision to record confidential conversations was disappointing, he believes most of the Catholics and priests he leads still support him.

9. Theodore McCarrick still won’t confess.

By Marc A. Thiessen, Washington Post Online, September 5, 2019, 1:54 PM

Disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick was defrocked in February and ordered by Pope Francis to live a “life of prayer and penance.” It seems the message did not get through. McCarrick, it turns out, is unrepentant.

McCarrick specifically denied the accusation that finally turned Pope Francis against him — that he had molested a young boy during the sacrament of confession.

He also lashed out at Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the United States, who revealed last year that he had personally informed Pope Francis about the serious allegations against McCarrick and named more than a dozen cardinals he said covered up McCarrick’s abuses. “He was talking as a representative of the far right, I think,” McCarrick said of Viganò. “I don’t want to say he’s a liar, but I think some of the bishops have said that he was not telling the truth.”

Actually, Viganò was telling the truth. In May, Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, a former McCarrick aide, released portions of McCarrick’s emails and private letters that confirmed many of Viganò’s charges. McCarrick’s own correspondence shows that senior Vatican officials, including the secretary of state, the head of the Congregation for Bishops, the papal nuncio to the United States and Cardinal Donald Wuerl were all aware of the accusations against him.

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