2009 RECongress Cardinal Mahony Chat

On Friday, February 27, 2009, 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 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 is this the Cardinal's 13th online appearance and one of the highlights for the more than 40,000 attendees at the four-day event.

Moderator: Good afternoon and welcome to our Internet Chat with Cardinal Roger Mahony from the site of the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California. My name is Ellie Hidalgo, former staff writer with The Tidings newspaper and now pastoral assistant at Dolores Mission Church in LA, and I will serve as your moderator. I will begin by posting questions that were sent to us earlier, and you are welcomed to send in new questions now by clicking on the "submit a question" button at the top of the homepage. Let's begin...

CardinalMahony: Hi, everyone!!!

Corrine Bayley: What do you think are the 2 or 3 most important issues facing the Church today? Facing the world today? Thank you for your reflections.

CardinalMahony: Wow!  Really tough questions!!

CardinalMahony: I think that here in the West our problems surround our increasing numbers of Catholics, and how to serve them all.  We also need more priests and Religious.

CardinalMahony: World-wide, our challenge is to bring the Gospel of Jesus more fully into the culture and allow God's love and mercy to be experienced by everyone.

Jeffrey: Your Eminence, I'm 18 and I have experienced a calling to priesthood in the Archdiocese, but my grades have been awful since 6th grade and I will likely graduate from high school late. Any chance I might be accepted anyway?

CardinalMahony: Jeffrey:  Yes, you will have to get your grades up--but more importantly, be committed to take all of the steps needed to be a priest.  Are you going to a community college?

John Anderson: I've always thought I’d be a priest when I grew up, but I now have a girlfriend who I love with all my heart. How do I find my calling? How did you find yours?

CardinalMahony: John:  You need to place yourself in God's hands, pray, and get good advice from a priest or someone else whom you admire.  We all have to struggle with that decision early in life, but after a long time of seeking advice, I joined the Seminary.

Arleen Goodman: How can we make church and the mass more appealing to this younger generation? My daughter doesn’t see the importance of going to church, and says it's boring. I try to set an example, but feel like I can't persuade them. What can I do?

CardinalMahony: Arleen:  try taking her to one of the Life Teen Masses, or a Mass that is designed for young people.  Mass is always boring if we don't bring anything of ourselves to the Mass.

At Congress: K6MCP wishes W6YQM a happy birthday. 73 de Mary

CardinalMahony: Thank you!!!!

CardinalMahony: Actually, it's W6QYI.

Rosemary Azzaro: As I Have Done For You was a major influence on my ministry. I will receive a certificate in youth and young adult ministry in May. Who were/are the theologians most influential regarding your view of Church?

CardinalMahony: Rosemary:  Card. Avery Dulles was most influential to me when he published his famous Models of the Church.

Joseph: What is your Lenten practice? Is it typically the same each year?

CardinalMahony: Joseph:  This year I am spending each day for the good of a group suffering from the bad economy.  Today, my prayers etc. are for those who have lost their jobs.

Mike: I thought the settlement would be the end to the child molestation cases. How long do you think this will go on? Will it ever end?

CardinalMahony: Mike:  Unfortunately, the problem of child abuse has been with all of society for ages.  With the new awareness, we are able to catch cases early on and help the victims.  Our goal is to make all of society super-safe for children and youth.

Mark West: What are your thoughts on when there is no priest for celebrating the mass, can a lay person conduct a communion service or a paraliturgical service?

CardinalMahony: Mark:  The Lord Jesus won't allow it come to that.  Rather, we have a very broad program now to invite more candidates--and we are finding more than I dreamed.

Donna Gutierrez: What are your thoughts about relics. 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: Donna:  You are correct in having great caution over the "power" of relics.  They do have a limited place in our tradition, but living out the Gospel is far more powerful.

Teri Sullivan: I am engaged to someone that has been divorced. I went online and researched the process of the Tribunal and the applications. We have discussed this and he feels that he will not be granted an annulment, but we truly want to be married in the church. My question is why would the church put such demands on a person and be so judgmental on two people who want to stay in the church and have a sanctified union?

CardinalMahony: Teri:  Every case is different.  Please go to a priest whom you know and trust, and present the entire situation to see if a solution could be found.

Joe Palochak: What is your position on interfaith dialogue?

CardinalMahony: Joe:  We have many interfaith and ecumenical dialogues here in Los Angeles and across the country.  They are really fantastic, and I support them totally.

Maria: Cardinal Mahony- You have met the pope. What is Pope Benedict really like?

CardinalMahony: Maria:  Pope Benedict is, as they say in Rome, "a humble genius."  He is very learned, but very much down to earth and easy to speak with.

Jerome Bettencourt: I was wondering, have you ever visited Santi Quattro Coronati in Rome? I know that this is your assigned basilica there and I was curious if you ever had occasion to visit there and if so what was your impression of the place.

CardinalMahony: Jerome:  Yes, I have visited I Santi Quattro Coronati often.  He goes back to the 4th century, one of the oldest Churches in Rome.  I love visiting there.

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.

CardinalMahony: Michael:  A very good point.  We have tried several times to correct that situation, and will continue to do so.

Cris: What is your opinion on using the sanctuary as a stage? I cringe every Palm Sunday when the 8th graders perform the Passion play during mass. In my heart I feel this is wrong. If the 8th graders feel like they have to perform --maybe they can use the Hall. But during Mass – and especially Palm Sunday?

CardinalMahony: Cris:  A very delicate point.  However, when students learn to act out the Gospels, they learn deeply about the life of Jesus.  Recall that "Passion Plays" were always performed in the great Churches of the world going back to the Middle Ages.  We are having Noah's Arc performed at the Cathedral on March 7.

Jessica: How can we best be stewards of hope to the most pressing global concerns of our time right now?

CardinalMahony: Jessica:  We really start with our love and concern for one another--those close by.  Then, we can begin to branch out to those farther away.

Tom: With vocations down, any thoughts on how we as teachers can encourage vocations? We pray for vocations, but is there another way we can contribute to the cause? We continue to pray for you as well.

CardinalMahony: Tom:  Great question!  Yes, our Vocations Office is seeking to place a Vocations Committee in every parish in order to not only pray for vocations, but to invite young people with the obvious gifts to consider priesthood.

Mary Wirtes: ...making the Sign of the Cross with your left hand. I teach Catechism and have a left-handed student. Is it permissible for her to use her left hand which comes so naturally to her. Thank you.

CardinalMahony: Mary:  Absolutely!  the Sign of the Cross is just as valid regardless of the hand used, etc.

At Congress: I am a state of California employee.  I know the Church is pro-union; however, ours gives lots of  $$$ for policies contrary to Church teaching. How can we make the Catholic union activists aware of their responsibilities to the Gospel?

CardinalMahony: The best approach is for union members to lodge a protest against using your money for such activities.  If enough union members complain, the policy will change.

Rosie Enriquez: Your Eminence, if we are a community of more than 60 percent Latino, shouldn’t there be a focus on ministry to Latinos. We used to have this ministry in the Archdiocese. Why was it removed? Thanks for your attention

CardinalMahony: Rosie:  Actually, the ministry was not removed.  Rather, because of our great Hispanic presence, we have brought Hispanic outreach to all of our various offices, departments, and programs.

Ann Scolari: What are your thoughts on the Trindentine mass?

CardinalMahony: Ann:  The Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council.  But there is no participation by the people, and I don't believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us.

At Congress: I have a question about communion and why other Christians cannot receive communion with us at mass. Didn't Jesus allow the 12 to have "His Body and Blood" when they probably didn't understand what that totally meant?

CardinalMahony: Our belief is that we admit people to the Eucharist as a visible sign of our unity in the Body of Christ.  Eg, many of the Orthodox Churches believe exactly as we do ,  and we allow them to receive Communion. 

Faith Leslie: Peace Be With You Cardinal~ I am 11 years old and in love with Jesus. I am homeschooled. My question is...Do animals have souls and do they go to heaven? Thank You.

CardinalMahony: Faith:  Since I own two cats, I have a special interest in your question!  However, animals are not given a soul like we are--nor are they on the path to eternal life.  I would love to see cats in heaven, but I'm not sure I will!

Kevin: What is your biggest challenge or some of your challenges as Cardinal and how do you relax? What are some of your favorite ways of praying? With a prayer for your eminence.

CardinalMahony: Kevin:  I love to be in our rectory chapel early in the morning when it's quiet; a great time of prayer for me.  I relax by keeping a small garden at the Cathedral, reading, and my treadmill.

Laura Gomez: Do you have an iPod? Is it a video iPod? What are you listing to/watching? What’s on your playlist?

CardinalMahony: Laura:  I used to have an iPod, but gave it to my nephew.  I found that I did not have time to listen to the music, etc.  At the rectory, I prefer to have the music playing through the speakers to give me a greater sense of being surrounded by the music.

At Congress: What allows us to say that one Christian that believes in the Salvation based teachings is not part of the Body of Christ? How would you define the Body of Christ then?

CardinalMahony: The Body of Christ is open to all believers who truly believe in God's revelation through Jesus.  The Council reinforced that teaching.

At Congress: As a Catholic is it true that I should not take part in communion at another Church that is not Catholic or Orthodox? And Why?

CardinalMahony: Catholics belong to a special community of believers centered in the Eucharist.  We deepen our life in Christ through membership in Christ, in and through the Eucharist.  It is best to worship with others who share our full beliefs and practices.

At Congress: What do you mean by God's Revelation through Jesus? That Jesus is the Son of God that died for our sins and rose again?

CardinalMahony: That mystery refers to God revealing in and through Jesus the totality of God's plan for our salvation--and the Paschal Mystery is at the heart and soul of that belief.

Paul: Do you use a PC or a Mac? Are you on Facebook?

CardinalMahony: Paul:  I have a PC at home, and a PC laptop for travel.  Yes, I am on Facebook but the site is still being put together.

Bruce Dillon: I have heard of talk about changing the words at Mass! Who’s doing that? Will that happen? When?

CardinalMahony: Bruce:  The Roman Missal is being revised and translated into English right now.  There will be some word changes--mainly to correct poorly translated words in the past translations.

James Thomas: Why is there a trend in churches to hide the tabernacle in some small out of the way hidden space. At our new parish, the tabernacle isn't even visible. How can we treat Our Lord like this?

CardinalMahony: James:  The celebration of the Eucharist has always been distinct from the adoration of the Eucharist.  St. Peter's Basilica in Rome is a good example of a Church which separates very well those two aspects of the Eucharist.  There are many possibilities.

Troubled: Our parish priests are a bit stand off-ish. What are some suggestions to help us parishioners build  a bond with our priests.

CardinalMahony: Try giving them a big hug!!!!

At Congress: Since we believe in the Trinity, why do we only have the crucifix, and not a representation of the Father and Holy Spirit

CardinalMahony: Not every Christian symbol needs to reflect the Trinity.  The crucifix has a special place in the life and devotion of Catholics, but is not meant to obscure the Father and Spirit.

At Congress: So my protestant friends that believe in the Paschal Mystery (that God is revealed through Jesus the totality of God's plan for our salvation), they can take communion?

CardinalMahony: No.  We believe that those who share totally in our Catholic beliefs and practices can share in the Eucharist.  If they truly shared in those beliefs and practices, they would actually be Catholics.

At Congress: s it a sin for me to take communion at a non-Catholic church?

CardinalMahony: You should not participate in the communion service of another church.

At Congress: Is it appropriate for those not receiving Communion to get a blessing in the Communion line?

CardinalMahony: Absolutely, and a very large number of people do that all the time.

Maureen Walsh: 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: We are placing a lot of effort now on our young Catholic adults.  We have many groups of them formed all around the Archdiocese, and more planned.  They respond well when they are given the opportunity to have their own special community.  Theology on Tap, for example, is one of those ideas which has flourished.

John LaDouceur: If Satan was already in Heaven and was cast out, do we have any guarantee, assuming we make it to heaven, of staying there?

CardinalMahony: John:  Yes!  Because Jesus has told us that He was going to prepare a place for us--a permanent place.

Tim  Duncan: I am interested in becoming a member of the Knights of Columbus. Can you please tell me where I can pursue this in Los Angeles?

CardinalMahony: I would go on-line and find out the exact name and address.  We have many Councils all over the Archdiocese now.

moderator: Many thanks to everyone who participated in the Internet Chat with Cardinal Roger Mahony.

CardinalMahony: God bless all of you!!!!

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 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. 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), 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).


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