From Cardinal Seán’s blog

Coming together at the Pastoral Center

At the Pastoral Center, we are initiating meetings with the general staff on first Fridays after Mass and lunch.

The new Pastoral Center in Braintree was made available to us by the generosity of the late Tom Flatley. In the near future, we will dedicate a memorial plaque to Tom in the lobby of the center as a reminder of how this man from humble beginnings was able to do so much good in his life.

The meeting was held in our beautiful conference room, which holds about 200 people. It was a chance to share with everyone the current policies.

It is also an opportunity for the various offices to acquaint each other with their various ministries. At the meetings, different offices will make presentations about themselves, like the one Sister Marian Batho gave us on her role as the delegate to the Religious Community and on the Archdiocesan Pastoral Council.

Before we moved into the Pastoral Center, so many of the offices were at different locales; it is a blessing for us to suddenly be together. We want people to feel a part of the mission to the Church and to feel a sense of unity and purpose in what we are doing. Father Richard Erickson, our Vicar General, came up with this idea, and everyone seems enthused about it.

At the meeting, we were very pleased to announce to the employees -- and now to you here -- that on Oct. 1, we will open the Pastoral Center Chapel. The chapel will be an important part of our Pastoral Center, not only for celebrating Mass, but also for private devotions. I made a personal invitation to our employees of other faiths to consider themselves welcome in the chapel to practice their own prayers.

At the end of the meeting, Victor Rios, who has been working for the archdiocese for more than 28 years, drew the names out of the hat for three sets of tickets to the Boston College-Georgia Tech football game. The Eagles lost 19-16, but next Saturday (Sept. 20)the Eagles play the University of Central Florida Knights. We are rooting for the team to get back on track. Go Eagles!

U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops meetings

Sunday night (Sept. 7) we went to Washington for a meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, which I chair. Father Jim Steffes and Father David Toups helped me prepare Sunday for the meeting which was all day on Monday.

One of the many topics we discussed at the meeting was a report given on the vocations desk the committee sponsored to provide a presence at World Youth Day in Sydney.

Thousands of young people visited with the staff of the vocations desk, and they even had bishops volunteer to meet with young people discerning.

One of the interesting statistics they presented at the meeting was that one-third of seminarians said participating in World Youth Day was a very significant factor in their decision to enter the seminary. It only underscores the importance of this ecclesiastical event that was the brainchild of Pope John Paul II.

Tuesday and Wednesday we held the administration board meetings to discuss and develop the agenda for our November meeting. We also took care of some business of the bishops’ conference that has to take place between our formal meetings. Cardinal George, the Archbishop of Chicago, is the president of the conference.

One important piece of business was the issuing of a statement from the bishops on the misinformation put out by some Catholic politicians on Church teaching. The bishops are concerned about politicians pontificating on theological questions about which they know very little.

One of the challenges facing us as Catholics is how we communicate -- to our own people and to the larger community -- that the question of abortion and the immorality of abortion is not simply a matter of the Church trying to impose Church doctrine on other people in a pluralistic society. Rather, it is our firm conviction that abortion, like murder or racism, is a crime against humanity and a violation of the Natural Law that flows from who we are as human beings and that can be identified through reason. That is why the Church feels very comfortable advocating for the Gospel of Life. We are not insisting that they embrace the Catholic faith, but we are insisting that they defend human rights.

Life is the basic human right. That is why it is so disturbing when politicians and others try to dismiss us as people with merely an ecclesiastical or religious sectarian point of view or opinion. It is not that way at all.

We also need to impress on people that this is not some recent opinion. These teachings against abortion date back to the earliest days of the Church and some of the oldest writings of the Fathers of the Church. Right from the beginning, the Fathers of the Church were very, very clear as to the seriousness of this crime.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop William Lori, chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Doctrine, issued a statement clarifying vice-presidential nominee Sen. Joseph Biden’s comments on “Meet the Press” last Sunday.

Also in this week’s post:

> The Rodman Ride for Kids.

> The 150th anniversary of Immaculate Conception Church in Salem.

> A Bicentennial lecture by Thomas O’Connor.