Cardinal Mahony on AOLTranscript of Cardinal Roger Mahony on AOL Live!, February 13, 1999

Copyright 1999 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.   

OnlineHost: Join us as Cardinal Roger Mahony [CardinalRM] talks to us live from the main hall at the Religious Education Congress in California. Coming up next at 2:30pmET.

OnlineHost: Welcome to America Online's premiere showcase for live events! AOL Live can accommodate thousands of guests and is the place to meet personalities ranging from film and TV celebrities, sports stars, best-selling authors and more! [This event is led by MCs AOLiveMC4 and AOLiveMC8.]

OnlineHost: A native of Hollywood, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, ordained a Catholic priest in 1962, was named Auxiliary Bishop of Fresno in 1975 by Pope Paul VI. In 1980, Pope John Paul II appointed him Third Bishop of Stockton, and in 1985, Fourth Archbishop of Los Angeles. The Holy Father elevated him to the College of Cardinals on June 28, 1991.

AOLiveMC4: Let's give a big welcome to Cardinal Roger Mahony!

CardinalRM: Glad to be with all of you today! We have some 20,000 people gathered here for our annual Religious Education Congress--very exciting.

AOLiveMC4: Cardinal Mahony, here's a question from the audience:

Question: How can we use our faith to fight the ever-increasing cynicism that is found in the world today? especially as reflected in the media?

CardinalRM: Faith in God helps us place life in perspective, and it helps us sort our priorities. God is always present to us in the Scriptures, in the Church, and in each other.

Question: Hello, Cardinal Mahony. Are you happy with the turnout for the Religious Education Congress this year? Thanks :)

CardinalRM: Yes, a terrific turnout--and great spirit! The Congress is something the media does not cover well, but it is so important to see so much faith and commitment.

AOLiveMC4: Can you tell us a little more about what goes on at this event?

CardinalRM: We have speakers, workshops, liturgies, gatherings, etc. to help deepen our faith lives and to assist us in teaching the faith to children, youth, and adults. Faith and skills are both shared very deeply.

Question: First, let me express my respect and good wishes  Since your public dispute with Mother Angelica, has she made any attempt to express her regret...

CardinalRM: Mother Angelica and EWTN have much to offer the Church and society, and I am grateful that they are doing so more positively than in the past.

Question: Your Excellency, how does one keep Christ in our lives in a period of such cynicism?

CardinalRM: I find the greatest strength in reading the Gospels each day--once we know Christ's words and action, His example and witness, we then have a good model for our own lives.

Question: Good afternoon, is your Pastoral Letter available to be read online anywhere? What is it about?

CardinalRM: My most recent Pastoral Letter, "Gather Together Faithfully," is on line and can be read or downloaded: see

Question: How was the Pope's visit received in the States this year? Can you tell us of any memorable highlights?

CardinalRM: Now that the Pope is older and it is more difficult for him, people really appreciate the special effort he takes to spread the good news of Christ. Reception with the youth was awesome both in Mexico and in St. Louis.

Question: What denomination are you?

CardinalRM: Roman Catholic, and I serve as the Archbishop of Los Angeles, California.

Question: Do you feel there is only "One TRUE Church"?

CardinalRM: Jesus Christ obviously established a Church with the apostles, and placed Peter at its head--so all salvation in and through Christ flows through Him and the Church. But all Christian Churches share in the saving powers of Christ, but in different ways.

Question: How is the Church addressing the current new events with President Clinton?

CardinalRM: Like all citizens, we pray for our country and its leaders, and look forward to their giving all of us good example and witness, as well as calling all of us to the virtues so essential to building up our country.

Question: How can the Catholic church make a catholic education affordable for all and in all areas of the world?

CardinalRM: That's a real challenge. We have 100,000 young people in our Catholic schools here, but so many more would love to have the same education. We keep doing all we can to expand that Catholic education.

Question: How would you say the Catholic church's teaching has changed since the '50s when it seemed everything was a sin?

CardinalRM: The teaching as such has not changed, but the emphasis is now more upon a closer discipleship with Christ, the Gospels, and our care and concern for each other. Sin still remains a part of human history, but we try to urge people to abandon darkness and to enter into the light of Christ.

Question: Well I'm a teen and I always try to keep my faith as a young Christian, but what about the other teens that don't go to church or don't have a religion, what would you tell them to try to get them to go to church?

CardinalRM: I'm thrilled that you are a teen and so in love with the Lord! The best thing you can do is to give great personal witness of your faith--I assure you that others will follow!

Question: Greetings, Eminence, from your old haunt, Diocese of Fresno....I was Music Director there for four years prior to moving to Visalia.

CardinalRM: Terrific! We have many from the Fresno Diocese here these days. I loved my years there in Fresno!

Question: Your Excellency, can you relate to us the importance of a religious education in building the foundation for a sound spiritual life?

CardinalRM: While it is important to have a personal relationship with Christ, we must also know what He taught and follow that. Recall his words: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." We need to do both, a daily challenge for all of us.

Question: Thank you for Gather Faithfully Together, I'm sure you're aware of the good work it's catalyzed beyond Los Angeles. Were you expecting it to be controversial? Will you respond publicly to the criticisms? (Unjustified though they may be<G>)

CardinalRM: Actually, there has been very little negative criticism with the Letter. It is overwhelmingly positive, and the Letter is being put into effect all across the country, in Canada, Australia, etc. All of this really surprised me!

Question: How does the Church currently stand on the issues of homosexuality. What is being taught on this subject and do archdiocese differ on this?

CardinalRM: The Church's teaching is very clear on this issue, and the Gospel demands for homosexual persons is exactly the same as for single people, married people, priests, religious, etc. We are allowed to live out human sexuality only in the context of marriage. We make a special effort to reach out to all groups of people here, and we have a special ministry to gay and lesbian Catholics--with great spiritual success.

Question: Your Excellency, can you tell us how the American church is reaching out to ever-increasing population of Latinos in its membership?

CardinalRM: Our Latin, Hispanic brothers and sisters are a tremendous gift to the Church, and all of us are intensifying our pastoral outreach. Here at this Congress we have some 50 workshops in Spanish, and they are filled.

Question: Any chance of a female priest in the near future?

CardinalRM: As you may know, the Church does not believe it is empowered to make this change in the long tradition of the Church. The question of women's equality is not at stake here, but rather, our inability to change what Jesus set in motion. Nonetheless, we must continue all efforts to involve women in every possible role in the Church that we can.

Question: Cardinal, I don't know if I want to live is it a sin to kill yourself?

CardinalRM: Every person is precious in God's eyes, and loved so intensely. You need to discover the beauty of your life more than you presently have, and I urge you to speak with those who can help you--and right now. God has destined each of us with a life to accomplish so much--don't discount all that God wants you to accomplish in the future!

Question: How is the Pope doing regarding to health?

CardinalRM: The Pope is 78 years of age, and obviously suffering more from the ills of older age. But he is vigorous in spirit, and lives out each day as fully as he can--a great witness for all of us!

Question: As a new parent, what are some of things that I can instill in my son to foster his faith in Christ?

CardinalRM: Please start right away to make your home a Christian home--please hang symbols of faith around the home, such as crosses, angels, and the like. Pray over him and with him even now. Let him get used to growing up in a home where the parents are not afraid to live out their faith. --I would be happy to stay for the entire hour.

Question: How many of the churches today are making arrangements for someone to sign to the deaf members of the community?

CardinalRM: More and more churches have people signing--we are discovering more fully that sign language is really a second language, and there is far wider responsiveness.

Question: What has been the most satisfying moment in your life to the present day?

CardinalRM: That's a hard one! Every day I see God's grace and blessings being poured out upon so many people, and what a joy it is to be involved in the unfolding of God's plan in our part of the Vineyard of the Lord!

Question: I'm a teen that goes to Catholic School but some kids don't like praying. What should our school do?

CardinalRM: Teens need forms of prayer that speak to them, that appeal to them. What have you tried so far?

Question: What view do you have on religion being taught at school?

CardinalRM: Most public schools cannot teach religion as such, but more are teaching various classes in comparative religions--thus helping youth to know the value of faith, and how various faiths bring God to people. I really favor those approaches.

Question: What is your relationship with the pope?

CardinalRM: Fortunately, as a cardinal I see the Pope a lot--every time I'm in Rome, on his trips, and the like. He is just terrific to be with! Great personal outreach to all, and a great sense of humor as well.

Question: I'm 14 yrs old and I'm real scared of dying and Jesus coming back and the world ending what could I do to solve my problem?

CardinalRM: At 14 years of age, you have your whole life ahead of you. Don't be afraid of Jesus Christ nor any of the other things you mentioned. Rather, see what great things God wants you to do all the coming years of your life, and open yourself to His presence and grace.

Question: Have you seen the Virgin Mary image on the wall of a Clearwater, Florida, building? And if you have, what do you think of it?

CardinalRM: No, I have not. It is far better to live by faith, and to not keep searching for "signs" of God's presence. Our biggest miracles are ones of belief. Recall what Jesus said to Thomas: "Blessed are those who have not seen, but still believe."

Question: Would it be wrong for me not to send my child to a religious school?

CardinalRM: No, there is no requirement to attend a religious school. Your greater role is being a parent who imparts belief in God by word and action. Give the good example, the best gift you can give your children.

Question: Now that the Pope is old and frail, do the cardinals speculate among themselves about a successor? Do you think Pope John Paul would ever abdicate?

CardinalRM: No to both

Questions. We rely upon the Holy Spirit to guide the Church and to make provision for the successor to Peter. Can you tell us about forgiveness and how we can bring about our reconciliation with God?

CardinalRM: Our greatest challenge, especially as we prepare for the Third Millennium. We need to accept God's forgiveness in our own lives, then find ways to share that healing and forgiveness with everyone else: family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. It often requires us to take the initiative in extending healing.

Question: How's the progress on your new cathedral?

CardinalRM: New Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels is now under construction. We also have a great website for the Cathedral:

Question: How can we encourage young men to consider a vocation for Christ?

CardinalRM: We must pray fervently, we must identify young men with the qualities we are looking for in a good priest, and we must step forward and INVITE them!!

Question: It seems as though the Holy Father is very quietly relaxing the mandatory 75-year-old retirement age for bishops who "toe the line." Is this so?...thank you

CardinalRM: I don't think so. He is anxious to leave many Bishops in place until the new Millennium comes about, as long as their health and energies can handle the delay. I suspect he will accept more retirements after the year 2000 has begun.

Question: The Holy Father was quite explicit about the death penalty as being incompatible with the Church's seamless garment on issues of life. Why do you think so many American Catholics have difficulty with this position?

CardinalRM: Many Americans, in general, have false hopes for the death penalty. It will not of itself solve problems of crime, nor deter anyone. The Church believes that if the State has adequate means to protect all citizens from violent criminals--such as life in prison without parole--then that course of action is preferable, and very pro-life. Too many see the death penalty through eyes of "getting back" at the criminal.

Question: I am 18 yrs old and I have a child out of wedlock. Will god bless me even though I have sinned?

CardinalRM: God bless us in the midst of our deepest problems and failures. Your new life is a precious gift from God--cherish that gift, seek God's forgiveness, and live your life as fully in God's plan as you can.

Question: Will the Roman and Eastern Rites ever reconcile and rejoin each other in the future?

CardinalRM: I certainly hope so. We have such a common history and tradition, and our disunity is a scandal for the whole world.

Question: Please tell us about your pastoral letter, and what messages you hoped we'd receive from it.

CardinalRM: The Letter is on Sunday Eucharist, and I am encouraging all of our parishes to help plan and celebrate each Sunday Eucharist as fully as possible. Sunday Eucharist is the gathering of the Body of Christ in such a special way. The Letter is on our web-site also.

AOLiveMC4: Thank you, Cardinal Mahony, for taking the time to answer all these wonderful questions.

CardinalRM: God bless you all!! Thank you for terrific questions!

CardinalRM: Open your hearts to God's love as we prepare for the new century and millennium, pick up your Bibles, and go to God in prayer in each day--He walks at your side each and every hour. God bless you!

AOLiveMC4: And thank you to the audience for attending. Good afternoon everyone!

OnlineHost: Copyright 1999 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

AOLiveMC4: Thank you Cardinal Mahony :)

CardinalRM: You are welcome--always a great joy to be on line!

AOLiveMC4: I'm glad... good afternoon to you

CardinalRM: I look forward to another session in the future. God bless the AOL staff!

AOLiveMC8: Thanks, Cardinal :) take care now.


Event Keyword: "AOL Live" for America Online members
Date: February 13, 1999
Time: 2:30pm ET

©1999 America Online, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Read the transcripts from other Religious Education Congress online chats

Congress Chat History:
Beginning in 1996 on CompuServe, Cardinal Roger Mahony conducted the first nationwide, online (typing) live from Hall A at the Anaheim Convention Center. in 2001 the Cardinal suggested adding a private chat with students from a school in the Archdiocese. Since then, we have had the tradition of a private school chat.

Los Angeles Archbishop Josι Gomez continued the tradition of a Congress Chat, and now we've expanded our chats to include regional bishops and schools from their region. This year, Bishop David O'Connell joins us for our sixth video chat with a school from his region.

with Auxiliary Bishop David O'Connell of the San Gabriel Region

2019 (All Souls, Alhambra)

with Los Angeles Archbishop Josι Gomez

2017 (St Francis of Assisi, L.A.)  •  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 Emeritus 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 Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark of the Our Lady of the Angels Pastoral Region


2016 Marks 20 Years of Congress Chats — The first (typing) RECongress chat 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 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. The RECongress chat are now continued through the regional bishops, while the Archbishop now holds an event on Facebnook Live.

Beginning on CompuServe, the RECongress nationwide chats have been hosted by AOL Live! (1997-2000), Beliefnet (2001), (2002-2003), and (2004-2010). The school chats have been conducted on AOL (2001-2006), Yahoo (2007), Chatzy (2008-2012), Skype (2013-2014) and Google+ (2015-2016).


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