From the cardinal’s blog

Boston Men’s Conference

We were so pleased that, despite a terrible snowstorm, many men were able to make it there. Over 3,000 men participated in the day, and only one of the speakers, Patrick Madrid, was unable to arrive. I was anxious for people to hear him because he is a wonderful apologist.

Boston Women’s Conference

Over 4,000 women arrived at the conference. It was a very good experience for them. They had wonderful speakers. The final speaker of the day was Immaculee Ilibagiza, a survivor of the Rwandan genocide. She gave a moving testimony of that horrific experience. She spoke of the great loss of her family and her loved ones but also about the power of prayer, especially the rosary, in her life. She talked about the need to forgive one’s enemies for love of God.

U.S. Conference of

Catholic Bishops’ meetings

This week I also traveled to Washington D.C. for two meetings at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, one with the immigration committee and the other with the pro-life committee. During the meeting of the immigration committee, we continued our discussions on the need for immigration reform, comprehensive immigration legislation and the Church’s work with refugees. There is much concern about refugees from Iraq, particularly the Chaldean Catholics who have had to flee that country.

I am also a consultant on the pro-life committee, and we had an interesting meeting. A lot of different materials were shown on stem-cell research. Bishop Thomas Wenski from the Diocese of Orlando and Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio from the Diocese of Brooklyn made a presentation on the political responsibility document that the bishops’ conference will publish in the near future. The document is meant to present the centrality of the pro-life message and help people understand what is meant by formation of conscience.

‘Nation of Immigrants’ Community Seder

On Thursday evening I participated in the Anti-Defamation League’s “Nation of Immigrants” Community Seder that took place at The Castle at Park Plaza in Boston.

Last year I gave a speech to the Jewish community in which I told them about a Seder meal that I organized in Washington with the Hispanic Community many years ago. In response to my talk, this year the ADL has organized a multicultural Seder inviting many ethnic and religious groups. Andrew Tarsy, ADL regional director and Diane Rosenbaum, senior associate director did a wonderful job organizing the event. It was a lovely evening.

Seder meals are an important way for Catholics to have a sense of what the ritual at the Last Supper would have been and how Jesus, taking the unleavened bread and the wine, made them into the Eucharist. In the Jewish tradition the Seder is a family meal. Jesus, rather than celebrating it with His family, celebrated it with His disciples who were His spiritual family. During the Seder, children ask questions like “Why is this night different from any other night?” At that meal, St. John, being the youngest, would have been the one asking the questions. The Seder meals are helpful to understand what Jesus and His disciples did.

At the Seder, I announced that Pope Benedict XVI has named Rabbi Leon Klenicki to the Papal Order of St. Gregory.

Rabbi Klenicki has been a pioneer in Jewish-Catholic relations for decades. His own personal experiences of anti-Semitism led the rabbi to be a passionate advocate for education as means of dispelling religious prejudice and promoting interreligious collaboration.

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Warsaw ghetto uprising, Pope John Paul II said, “As Christians and Jews, following the example of the faith of Abraham, we are called to be a blessing to the world. This is the common task awaiting us. It is therefore necessary for us, Christians and Jews, to first be a blessing to one another.” Rabbi Leon Klenicki’s life has been the source of blessings for all of us. We are deeply grateful for his witness and his work.

In naming Rabbi Klenicki to the Papal Order of St. Gregory, Pope Benedict XVI has bestowed the highest honor the Catholic Church confers on a layperson, in recognition of “Outstanding Services Rendered to the Welfare of Society and the Church.”

Also in this week’s post:

> Highlights of the cardinal’s homily at the men’s conference

> Attending the Clover Club annual St. Patrick’s Day dinner