2008 RECongress Cardinal Mahony Chat
On Friday, February 29, 2008, at 11:15 a.m. PST, ChurchWerks.com hosted an online chat session with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, live from the main Exhibit Hall at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, Calif. Our thanks to ChurchWerks for sponsoring the chat, and thanks to Ellie Hidalgo of The Tidings for help with moderating the session.
The Cardinal annually conducts an online session, first with school children from the archdiocese, and then in a nationwide chat session. This will be the Cardinal's 12th annual online appearance and one of the highlights for the more than 40,000 attendees at the four-day event.
RECongress: We are chatting with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, live from the main Exhibit Hall at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, Calif. Our thanks to ChurchWerks for sponsoring our chat, and to Ellie Hidalgo of The Tidings (newspaper for the Los Angeles Archdiocese) for help with moderating the chat.
CardinalMahony: Greetings to all!!!
John: What is your favorite memory of Pope John Paul II?
CardinalMahony: Really hard to come up with just one memory! He was so awesome in so many ways! But his two-day visit to Los Angeles in 1987 revealed his deep spirituality, but his humility and humanity as well!!
Joseph: What are your thoughts on Pope Benedict?
CardinalMahony: I knew Pope Benedict when he was Card. Josef Ratzinger. He is truly a humble genius, a great gift from God to us and to the world.
Tom Joyce: How can we become more proficient in attracting men and women into religious life as nuns, brothers and priests? We in the Serra Club International are praying for vocations but is there another way we can contribute to the cause? We continue to pray for you as well.
CardinalMahony: Praying for vocations is essential. However, each parish needs to have its own Vocations' Committee. We need to target youth in Confirmation programs and in Youth Groups--and we need to INVITE young people! Too often we forget to actually speak the invitation.
John Anderson: I attended Youth Day and we had a prayer about vocations. I've had a few thoughts about getting more involved in my church, but I am pretty lazy. Although I've dreamed of being a priest when I was little. I have a girl friend which I love with all my heart. So I have a few questions for you: How did you the Cardinal know your calling? What other positions are there in the churches that are considered "high" ranking that would allow me to be married? What should I do when my girlfriend goes against my beliefs? She doesn't particularly hate it but she has been lying to teachers about stupid things lately and its upsetting to me.
CardinalMahony: John: lots of questions there! We can't be lazy about our love for Jesus Christ and our life in the Church. We have to let the Holy Spirit come alive in us and be part of the Catholic community.
CardinalMahony: My own vocation began in grammar school, but matured over the years. Obviously, most Catholics are married and are not priests/Religious. But you have to listen to God's call, and you have to follow where the Lord leads you. You will only be truly happy when you have as a companion someone who shares your beliefs and your values. Choose those friends wisely.
Deacon Al: Good Morning Cardinal Mahony, yesterday morning I assisted you as Deacon of the Altar for our Youth Day Mass. It was a beautiful & powerful celebration of God's Love & Spirit among our youth. You shared a 'secret' during your homily---a 'secret' of vocation ministry among our youth. I wanted to let you know that after the liturgy, I spoke to a young lady who shared with me that she had answered God's call and was discerning to call to religious life. With her father looking on, she shared her desire to serve as a religious sister. The 'secret' is out, and it is being embraced by our young. Thank you for your ministry & leadership. May God continue to Bless you. Deacon Al Valles, St. Louise de Marillac.
CardinalMahony: Thanks for that great testimony! Yes, God continues to call our youth--but we need to help them with their response. We need to encourage our youth about vocations, and if they have the signs, then we need to invite them. Don't be shy!!
Leonel Martiez: Cardinal Mahony, I know that you were a friend of labor leader Cesar Chavez and continue to support the Farm Worker Movement. In what ways do you think Chavez was a spiritual role model for Catholics?
CardinalMahony: Cesar Chavez was a deeply spiritual man, and placed all of his work in the hands of Jesus Christ through Our Lady of Guadalupe. He was totally non-violent, and fasted often for the sake of the farm workers. A great model for us all!!
Michael Lara: Your Eminence, Would you be a voice for those of us who work as professional ministers of the Catholic Church? We as non profit workers are not entitled to unemployment benefits because of the Church's non-profit status. This is a choice of the state not federal government. Employees of the church pay state and federal taxes each time they receive a pay check. As our spiritual shepherd could you please lobby our state government to give non-profit church workers unemployment benefits if we should ever need them. Thank you
CardinalMahony: Michael: A good question, and an important point. I don't know why non-profit employees don't get unemployment benefits, but will do my best to look into this issue.
Leonel Martinez: Thank you, Cardinal Mahony, for providing us with this valuable forum. During this election year, many in the church believe that Catholics cannot, in good conscience, vote for an elected official who supports abortion rights, gay marriage or stem-cell research. Others say Catholic voters must weigh all the issues and cast their ballots accordingly. What does the church teach on this issue?
CardinalMahony: Leonel: a really great question! Let's face it: there is no candidate, nor will there ever be one, who supports our Catholic beliefs 100%. Therefore, we must study the issues, be informed on Catholic teaching, and vote for the one we believe will do the most good following the most of our values and principles. A great booklet to help: Faithful Discipleship, published by the USCCB. You can find it on line.
Jennifer: Why would an atheist care about religion? I feel two teachers I have intentionally go out of their way to express their negative feelings about the Catholic church. It shouldn't bother me, however, sadly it does at times. I don't involve myself in their conversations, so it won't affect me passing my classes.
CardinalMahony: Jennifer: you are right. We can't change everyone's opinions or ideas about us. Your best approach is to continue living out your faith day after day, and let your actions speak volumes! You don't have to say anything.
Jesse: I would like to know why do Christians don't believe in the Virgin Mary? I love her so much and when I here people talk bad about her it makes me wonder
CardinalMahony: Jesse: sadly, some people misunderstand our Catholic love of Mary. They think we are worshiping her as "God," which we are not. We are giving her the great honor she deserves as Mother of the Redeemer and Mother of the Church.
Stephen: What is the Archdiocese doing to combat the aggressive proselytism of local fundamentalist sects?
CardinalMahony: The best way to deal with any sect is to live out our own Catholic faith visibly and publicly. We need to be inviting and welcoming to everyone in our parish. The more outgoing we are with our Faith, the less impact the sects have.
Laurie Allen: Why do some clerics in the church have a problem with the faithful practicing yoga? If the intention is to calm our minds and bodies - can we not see this as a way to better "ground" ourselves in God. Over the 25 years I have practiced it, I find my faith has only grown...
CardinalMahony: Yoga is a deep meditation process, and if we keep our focus on our living and merciful love, then yoga works for anyone. Meditation in any form always deepens our love with God.
LUCY M. HERNANDEZ: I live in Salinas CA. I am engaged to be married. My fiancι lives in LA county. I work for Social Security and planning on transferring to LA. I been filling guilty because I am engaged to someone that has been divorced by court but not by Church. Alfredo has filed for an annulment, but it takes time. I am a Eucharistic Minister, teach Catechism and Confirmation. My question is should I stop serving as minister, teaching and stop receiving communion?
CardinalMahony: Lucy: you really need to speak directly with a priest, either in Salinas or here in Los Angeles. You can function in the Church, but you need to get this marriage case resolved quickly. Hard to deal with marriage cases on-line, that's why you need to visit directly with a priest.
Teri: Is there high hope for married priests? What is that status on having the option?
CardinalMahony: Teri: At this time, the Pope is not moving towards married priests for the Latin Catholic Church. Recall that the Eastern Catholic Church has had married priests for 2,000 years.
Andrew: Stores used to be closed on Sundays. Now for many Sunday has become part of the work week. And like many in this younger generation, my child don't see any special importance of Sunday and of going to church. How can I help "sell" church to my teen?
CardinalMahony: Andrew: You are so right--Sunday has been robbed of its importance and meaning, usually for commercial purposes. It really helps when your parish has a special group for teens--such as Life Teen. So many parishes have Youth Masses, and other events for Catholic youth. Encourage that path in your own parish.
Alexis: Is their anything against the Catholic church being more fun? I mean the priest talks and kids don't pay attention so couldn't we sing and dance, and make it more like gospel churches do, so kids will want to participate? I was just wondering if that was against our faith?
CardinalMahony: Alexis: Sounds good to me! Our parishes need to offer a variety of liturgies which appeal to different age groups and to different likes. Youth Masses with groups such as Life Teen are really helpful!
Tamara Santos: I teach high school youth group and am very concerned. This kids (all 192 of them) understand the material, or words; what they don't understand is the why of it.....After listening to them talk in discussion it became quite clear it had to do with their conscience or lack of and without their conscience working all of our material is just more words to them. Talking to them about morals and values will get you the blankest looks on their faces, and it's this Fr. that scares me. How can we help them with something they really need to get at home but don't? I don't blame them at all, but want to help them.....but when you are dealing with teenagers who truly do not know right from wrong where do you start? Thank you for this opportunity to ask you questions. I look forward to the Congress this year and what it can teach me that will help these children
CardinalMahony: Tamara: there are many great new materials to assist you with youth. There are terrific DVDs that offer teens real-life stories told by teens, how to make moral choices, etc. You should find a lot at Congress.
Connie Partch: As the leader of the LA Archdiocese I would like your opinion on an event I witnessed that has bothered me a lot - a Deacon blessed an assembly of people (youth and their parents) with what he claimed was a cross with a relic of the "true cross of Christ" imbedded in the cross. I have heard a number of stories about relics and miraculous events but the majority are not endorsed or supported by the Vatican and should, in my opinion, not be taught to the youth of our Church. Would you care to comment on this?
CardinalMahony: Connie: Blessing people with relics of saints has a long tradition in our Church. However, no one knows whether relics of the True Cross actually come from Jesus' Cross. I am told that if you took all of the "relics of the True Cross" around the world and put them together, you could build a ten story building! Our belief is in Jesus, not the relic.
Lizbeth Ornelas: What can the archdiocese of Los Angeles offer to the special ed community?
CardinalMahony: Lizbeth: There are increasing numbers of good religious education materials for the special ed community. However, since no single parish has a large population of such persons, it is best when three or four parishes go together with special programs. It also depends upon the need; we try to integrate them into our overall programs as well as we can--better for them.
irma munguia-inoue: I have 7-year-old twins in preparation for their First Holy Communion.... I feel very uncomfortable with them receiving wine. Even if its just a taste I see it as "it's wine." Can you please clarify this for me thank you
CardinalMahony: Irma: You need to focus upon the Last Supper of Jesus, and not on the wine. Read them the Gospel stories about the Last Supper, and how Jesus gave us both the bread and wine changed into His Body and Blood. A tiny sip of the Blood of Christ can be meaningful for them.
Adriana Jaramillo: Could you give a special blessing to our new youth group at Parroquia Sagrado Corazon y Santa Maria de Guadalupe. As you know it is a small community but with lots of love. The group name is Agape (unconditional love of God). Please mention them at mass so they will be encouraged to keep working and succeed in our parish
CardinalMahony: Adriana: You have a great community there in Cudahy, and I love the spirit of that community. We are helping to get you a new Church, as you know. Please know of my prayers and support.
Sue: Why does the Catholic Church in the U.S. not walk with the Catholic Church in Rome? Are we not all one? What steps do you see as necessary for a more harmonious relationship to take place -- one that acknowledges the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church and tries to follow closely with what id means to be a disciple of Christ. Is it materialism, a consumerist capitalistic society, a "I want what I want and I want it now" attitude? How can the individual Catholic align their footsteps with the master, so that one day we may come to that eternal banquet prepared for all?
CardinalMahony: Sue: I sure don't see the disconnect you reference. My experience is that the Catholic Church in the USA is very dynamic, but very faithful to the Holy Father and to the Universal Church. Having had the joy of visiting the Church in so many countries around the world, I am in awe at how vibrant the Church is here. Our involvement of lay people in the Church is a great grace, and our Popes have noted that often.
Congress Attendee: Gary: How much work will be done to end the war? We need to end it.
CardinalMahony: Gary: Pope John Paul II said it best: "War is the failure of the world community to resolve its differences through non-violent means." We need to keep praying for peace, and doing all we can to be reconciled at all levels in our lives--that reconciliation is contagious in the best sense.
Hugh Menton: What do you consider the critical questions that a parish community should ask itself before proceeding with efforts to build a new church?
CardinalMahony: Hugh: Obviously, you need to "build the Catholic Community" before building the actual structure. A holy, vibrant Catholic Community will make a new Church come alive--but not the other way around.
Kathy Gross: As a parent of grown children and as a former Religious Education Teacher, I would like to know what plans are being made to keep our young people alive in their faith? My husband and I have been active Catholics and our children are practicing Catholics too, but they are struggling with a church that is not always being true to the Gospel. How can we help our young people to know that the teachings of Jesus Christ are still part of our faith in 2008?
CardinalMahony: Kathy: It is crucial that the Church provide special outreach to those critical years: groups for high school Catholics, other groups for young adults, and groups for newly-married Catholics as they begin their families. The focus is always on Jesus Christ and His presence in the Church; not on those few who do not live out their faith fully.
Congress Attendee: Cardinal, Please give me your impression of the recent book in your name.
CardinalMahony: That book is wild fiction!! I have never read anything more bizarre in my life! Don't waste your money on it!!
Neil: When is the archdiocese going to issue a pastoral statement on Catholic education?
CardinalMahony: Neil: We have issued pastoral statements quite frequently. We are considering another one in the near future. But our efforts are at preserving our Catholic Schools, and increasing the Catholic Education Foundation so that scholarships will be available for our youth.
Congress Attendee: What do we in SPRED -- Special Religious Education -- need to do to get more exposure at an event such as this?
CardinalMahony: Spread your wings and soar!!!!
CardinalMahony: Time has run out. God's blessings be abundant upon all of you!!!
Read the transcripts from other Religious Education Congress online chats
with Los Angeles Archbishop Josι Gomez
2016 (St Mary Magdalen, Camarillo) 2015 (St Finbar School, Burbank) 2014 (St Columbkille School, L.A.) 2013 (St Bernard School, L.A.) 2012 (St Dorothy School, Glendora) 2011 (St Thomas School, L.A.)
with Cardinal Roger Mahony, Archbishop of Los Angeles
2010 2010 (St John Chrysostom School, Inglewood) 2009 2009 (St Elisabeth, Van Nuys) 2008 2008 (Sacred Heart, Covina) 2007 2007 (St Benedict, Montebello) 2007 (St Rita, Sierra Madre) 2006 2006 (Holy Innocents, Long Beach) 2005 2004 2003 2001 2001 (St Jerome, Westchester) 2001 (Holy Family, South Pasadena) 2000 1999 1998 1997 1996
with Bishop Edward Clark, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop 20 Years of Congress Chats — The first (typing) chat room was held on Friday, February 23, 1996 on CompuServe with Cardinal Roger Mahony. Ten years later, on Friday, March 31, 2006, the Cardinal's annual chat was conducted in a room hosted on ChurchWerks.com. The Cardinal participated in 22 Congress chats (both nationwide and with schools) over 14 years.
At Congress 2016, Archbishop Josι Gomez has continued the tradition of (now, video) chats with school students from the Archdiocese. This was his sixth Congress chat (and fourth video chat) conducted from the Tech Center, located in the center of Exhibit Hall A at the Religious Education Congress.
Beginning on CompuServe, the nationwide chats have been hosted by AOL Live! (1997-2000), Beliefnet (2001), CatholicWeb.com (2002-2003), and ChurchWerks.com (2004-2010). The school chats have been conducted on AOL (2001-2006), Yahoo (2007), Chatzy (2008-2012), Skype (2013-2014) and Google+ (2015-2016).