Transcript of Bishop Edward Clark Chat Session, February 15, 2002

This year, Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Edward Clark conducted an online session live from the main Exhibit Hall at the Religious Education Congress. The chat was originally scheduled with Cardinal Roger Mahony, who had become unavailable for the morning. Moderated live from the floor of the Anaheim (Calif.) Convention Center, Bishop Clark will discuss today's challenges facing the U.S. Catholic Church as we move forward into the third millennium.

Over 50 online visitors participated in the Chat session sponsored by Visitors posted questions on a range of topics including the Diocese, the Church’s role on the Internet, and common challenges facing today's Catholic Church.  


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Partial Transcript of Live Chat Session with Bishop Edward Clark with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles while attending the Religious Education Conference in Anaheim, CA

February 15th, 10:30 am to 11:30 am PST


Moderator: For the past six years it has been a tradition to conduct an online chat session live from the main exhibit hall at the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress. This year, we welcome Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Clark to our chat.

Moderator: Bishop Edward Clark was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn., but attended local schools in Los Angeles and graduated from St. John’s Seminary. He was ordained in 1972 by Cardinal Timothy Manning and much of his priesthood was spent in education, as teacher, principal and coordinator of secondary schools. In 1988 he received his doctorate in Sacred Theology and was named rector of St. John’s Seminary in 1994. Cardinal Mahony ordained him a bishop for Our Lady of the Angels Region in 2001.

Bishop Clark:  Good morning! This is Bishop Edward Clark at the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California. I am available for chatting for the next hour.

Moderator: We welcome Bishop Clark and all who are signed on to this chat about issues facing the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Catholic Church as a whole.

Bishop Clark: Good morning!

Moderator: Bishop Clark would you like to say a few words before any questions?

Bishop Clark: I am happy to answer any questions that people have. The Cardinal could not be here this morning because of a funeral for a family member that was scheduled for today. I am happy to fill in for him.

Moderator: Thank you for being here. And welcome to all of our chat room guests. If anyone has a question please feel free to send it on.

Bishop Clark: The Religious Education Congress here in Anaheim opened yesterday with 13,000 young people. It was an exciting day with lots of enthusiasm. The three-day Congress for religious educators opened at 8:00 this morning and thousands of people have already arrived for the first sessions. The arena was filled nearly to capacity for the opening prayer gathering.

Moderator: Carla Michael of Lancaster, CA wrote in with this question: As a former Protestant, I listened to Christian radio stations. Why don't we have a Catholic radio station in LA?

Bishop Clark: Carla, thank you for your question. Across the United States there are some Catholic radio stations, but they are small and local. In the past it was attempted to have a major, nationwide station but it did not prove successful. Though there are some television and radio programs that are picked up in a number of areas across the United States.

Charlie: Bishop Clarke what do you think of the Catholic Church's roll on the web?

Bishop Clark: This is a relatively new enterprise for the Church, but many dioceses and other Catholic organizations have developed very good web sites for communicating with people all across the country. There are numerous chat rooms for Catholic participation. Our Archdiocesan web site has just undergone revision. In addition, we now use the Internet for communicating with our parishes, schools, organizations, pastors, etc.

Moderator: Do you find yourself attracted to any particular sites?

Bishop Clark: I am not usually on line very much, other than using e-mail. I use search engines when looking for something, but the site I probably contact most is

Charlie: Do you think the Web can be an important evangelical tool?

Bishop Clark: Charlie, I do think the web can be an important tool for evangelization. Because so many people use the web for talking about religious ideas, it does take an informed person to know what is sound and what is not. Right now, we could say that using the web for getting information can be a bit of a guessing game, "buyer be ’ware."

Charlie: Yes, it does allow you to connect with other Catholics to discuss topics that concern all of us.

Bishop Clark: Do any of you use the web for discussing Catholic issues, finding information, and expressing your ideas?

Moderator: Welcome to those just joining us. We are chatting with Bishop Clark attending the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim.

michael: Bishop Clark, is there anywhere online that someone could go to confession?

Bishop Clark: Sorry! Sacramental actions involve person-to-person prayer experiences. When the telephone was invented some people thought that it would be a great instrument for going to confessions, but the best theologians expressed the concern that it would not create the prayer involvement that sacramental experience requires. As a result, the telephone was not accepted as a sacramental medium. The web would be in the same category.

Moderator: Charles wrote in with this question: Given the events of September 11th, what advice would you have for Catholics or all Christians trying to muster forgiveness and peace toward those responsible?

Bishop Clark: Charles, this is a great question. From the Christian experience, we recognize the hurt, anger, and upset that people felt because of the events of September 11th. There is a human instinct for wanting the hurt repaid. But Christianity rejects revenge and retribution. While it is necessary to oppose violence and contain it in the least violent way, what we as Christians really search for is conversion. Where conversion is achieved, then forgiveness is the best alternative. We must pray for and work for real conversion in the lives of those who inflict violence on others, and we must work for that conversion in our own lives as well.

Moderator: That's a great response, Bishop Clark!

Lisa: Hi, what are we talking about?

Moderator: We are chatting with Bishop Clark who is answering any questions you might have.

Bishop Clark: Lisa, we just had a question about how to deal with the issues raised by the events of September 11th. However, we are open to all types of questions.

Lisa: So very sad....

Moderator: Elizabeth wrote in with this question: Do you think Islam is an inherently intolerant faith?

Bishop Clark: Elizabeth, thank you for your question. No, I do not think that Islam is an inherently intolerant faith. Among the Islamic leaders that I have met through interfaith dialogue, I have come to appreciate the real striving for tolerance and cooperation that exists among them. We have great relationships with the Islamic community in Los Angeles. The Cardinal has even joined them on important occasions for prayer with them in their Mosques.

Lisa: I think a lot of them are brainwashed, and they need to be reprogrammed, because the real Islam religion is very peaceful

Bishop Clark: What I heard recently, as part of a panel on Martin Luther King Day, was very uplifting. It involved myself, as a Catholic, a Protestant minister, a Jewish rabbi, and an Islamic leader.

michael: Bishop Clark, how long have you been involved in the Catholic Church?

Moderator: Welcome to guests just joining us. We are chatting with Bishop Clark who is attending the Religious Education Conference in Anaheim, Calif.

Bishop Clark: What marks the difference between Islam and Christianity it that Christianity rejects retribution in all forms. Islam allows for just retribution, but then clearly states that God prefers forgiveness and will reward forgiveness over retribution.  So, I would have to say that Islam is not at all an intolerant faith when it is practiced in such a manner.

Lisa: I think this chat is very cool, I have to go, I hope this will be on again.

Charlie: Bishop Clark have you ever visited the Vatican's Web site?

Charlie: It's quite informative!

Bishop Clark: Charlie, I have visited the Vatican web site. In addition, I receive the daily news from the Vatican via the Internet.

michael: I enjoyed my visit to Vatican City

michael: It was beautiful

Mary: I hope to go the Vatican

Bishop Clark: Mary, Rome and the Vatican are well worth visiting. I lived in Rome for three years while I was working on a doctoral degree in theology at the Gregorian University. I came to know Rome better than I know Los Angeles.

Judy: wow

Judy: Have you been to Catholic Web?

Charlie: Judy, I have been to CW [CatholicWeb site] and really find it very informative as well!

Judy: I to love seeing my faith on the Internet, CW is great.

Monica: Bishop Clark what languages do you speak?

Bishop Clark: Monica, I confess to speaking only English, but try my best with Spanish and Italian.

John Anderegg: In the past years, the Religious Education Congress has had speakers (Fathers Michael Crosby and Patrick Brennan, and Diana Hayes) associated with Call to Action, a group that dissents from Church teaching. Diana Hayes is associated with Women's Ordination Conference. Why does the archdiocese invite such speakers?

Bishop Clark: John, I'm not so well informed as to presume to answer this question, being only a neophyte bishop. However, I do know that every speaker must have the endorsement of his or her local bishop and we rely n that endorsement. I know that this is common policy throughout the United States because I have filled out forms this past year for endorsing speaker from Los Angeles to speak in other dioceses. I cannot really give you a better answer than this.

michael: How many churches are in your diocese?

Bishop Clark: Michael, we have 299 parishes in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Mary: wow

Monica: How long have you been a Bishop?

Bishop Clark: Monica, I was named bishop on January 16th last year and was ordained on Marc 26th, the Feast of the Annunciation.

Mary: It must be great to be so close to the beach

Moderator: Congratulations Bishop and an early happy anniversary!

Bishop Clark: What I enjoy most about being a bishop is meeting with the people at their parishes. Every weekend I am at a different parish in my region of 78 parishes. Half of the parishes are heavily Spanish speaking, which is a challenge for me, but I'm improving.

Moderator: Welcome back everyone. We are chatting with Bishop Clark who is attending the Religious Education Conference in Anaheim, Ca.

Bishop Clark: Have any of you ever been to the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim?

Linda: No, but my son & daughter-in-law have.

Michael: No, is it always held in LA?

Bishop Clark:  Michael, the Religious Education Congress in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles is an annual event, held each spring in Anaheim. About 30,000 adults and 10,000 youth attend each year, more or less.

Bishop Clark: The L.A. Religious Education Congress continues to be the largest annual religious education congress held in the U.S.

Nigel: Bishop Clark, what do you think the role of the Catholic Church should be when deciding public or government policy?

Bishop Clark: Nigel, great question. The role of the Church with regard to public policy is to be a moral voice for the Gospel values of justice, community and peace. The Church is not called upon to endorse or reject candidates, but must speak up on issues that fail to respect the values of the Gospel.

Moderator: Welcome to all joining Bishop Clark in this question and answer forum.

Nigel: Bishop Clark, where do you feel that your role as a Catholic Bishop ends and your role as an American citizen begins, do you feel that you can be true to both roles?

Bishop Clark: Nigel, you have identified a real issue for all Catholic Americans. It is difficult, if not impossible, to find political leaders who accept and speak all the issues of the Church. As a result, our role is often to continue to promote the issues even when the leadership of the civic communities do not agree.

Bishop Clark: Just as a point of information, three of the candidates running for governor of California are Catholic, including the present governor. But they do not even agree with one another.

jenny: Do you know of any good Catholic conferences for married couples?

Bishop Clark: Jenny, I am not sure what you are asking. Are you asking about national conferences or local diocesan conferences? I do not know of any national ones, at present that are held on a regular or annual basis. The best I can do for you is to refer you to your local parish or dioceses and they will let you know what is available.

jenny: Thank you.

Moderator: Bishop Clark, William asks this question: Do you think the Holy Father's physical condition and frailties effect the world's perception of the office of the Pope?

Bishop Clark: William, I actually do not think that the present physical condition of the Pope has any adverse affect on the world's assessment of the papacy.

Bishop Clark: Pope John Paul is such an incredible individual. He continues to keep going with great enthusiasm despite his physical condition. In addition, his mid is great. Many people, in fact, find hope and consolation in times of infirmity and old age because of the heroic endurance of Pope John Paul.

Nigel: Bishop Clark, in the transcripts of the last Chat, there is a statement that, "there will never be an American Pope!" can you elaborate on this?

Theresa: Why, are some special requirements?

Bishop Clark: Nigel, I wouldn't go so far as to say "never," but it does not seem too likely. One of the reasons is that an American Pope might not be well received by many other nations of the world; perhaps seen as too much concentration of power in one nation.

Bishop Clark: The Cardinals are certainly conscious of electing a Pope who will have wide international effectiveness. So it does not seem likely they would choose an American.

Nigel: Bishop Clark, good response

Moderator: Unfortunately we’re out of time. At this point we are going to have to wrap things up with Bishop Clark. Thank you Bishop!

 ©2002 CatholicWeb/Los Angeles Archdiocese

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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