Ambassador Flynn becomes regular contributor to The Pilot

Former Vatican ambassador and Boston mayor Ray Flynn (center) speaks with residents in South Boston Sept. 16. Pilot photo/Christopher S. Pineo

BRAINTREE -- Beginning this month, former Vatican ambassador and Boston mayor Raymond L. Flynn will be adding his voice to the opinion section of The Pilot. His pieces will also be featured regularly in Echoes, a forum for Catholic commentary at TheBostonPilot.com.

Speaking Sept. 16 after a morning walk at Castle Island in South Boston, Flynn explained how his background impacts his perspective, his work, and his writing.

"This is where I get, and have, an opportunity to talk to so many people from all different backgrounds," he said, gesturing to the South Boston waterfront path.

With airplanes taking off overhead and stacks of cargo containers nearby, he said getting out and speaking with people face-to-face has given him a grass-roots perspective that has informed his entire career.

Flynn grew up the son of a longshoreman and a cleaning woman in South Boston. His Irish Catholic family attended Gate of Heaven Parish in South Boston with their five boys.

He said his parents raised him to respect the teachings of the Catholic Church and apply them on behalf of the marginalized, the poor, and the disenfranchised.

"I try to treat people with respect, and try to practice what I learned from my neighbors, from my family, from my Church. I consider myself well educated, but I really learned the values of family, community, and faith. That's what's important to me," he said.

Flynn and his wife Catherine have six children and 17 grandchildren. He coaches baseball and soccer in a Braintree league sponsored by the Teamsters Union, as a way of helping his grandson Braeden, who has a rare condition that impairs his ability to walk or speak.

While in his early years it looked like he might be heading for a professional basketball career, instead he made his mark on Boston through a life of public service. He served as a state representative and Boston city councilor in the 1970s before going on to be elected mayor of Boston in 1984, a position he held until stepping down to become Vatican ambassador in 1993.

Throughout his life in public office, he maintained a reputation of never forgetting his working class roots. Flynn still lives in the neighborhood where he grew up and still attends his home parish.

"Of course, I'm right here at the waterfront. My father worked here for 50 years and my wife's father worked here. I'm a union dock worker myself. So, these are real working-class, family-oriented people, so you get a good point of view of decent people, listening to their stories," he said.

Though he holds a bachelor's degree in public administration and a master's degree in education he said he still considers what he hears from people he meets to be the best education.

"It's not the titles that I have had that have made me an informed person, it's listening. I consider myself a pretty good listener, which I like to talk about, which I like to write about. You know, those are valuable experiences that you can't learn at a college or a university," he said.

In recent years Flynn has continued to serve as a regular commentator for local media, offering a Catholic perspective on current events. Recently, Flynn has been outspoken on behalf of Catholics in Iraq who are suffering violent persecution at the hands of the Islamist group calling itself the Islamic State.

"I don't try to be politically correct. Everything is based on what I believe, what my faith has given me, and what I hear people say," he said.

Whatever issues arise in the future, Flynn said he plans to advocate with his conscience on behalf of Catholic social teachings in order to promote a more just society.

The 75-year-old said he rejects the labels conservative, liberal, Democrat, or Republican, and keeps his conscience informed by the teachings of the Church and the everyday people he meets.

"It's like the Catholic Church, you know it's rooted in truth. You know it, you may disagree with it, but this is what I believe, and that's what I'm going to continue to do," he said.

Father Robert F. Casey, pastor at both Gate of Heaven and St. Brigid parishes in South Boston, sees Flynn regularly at Mass.

"First of all, Ray has a local perspective of being the Mayor of Boston, but also a faith-filled Catholic," Father Casey said.

Flynn served in Catholic advocacy groups, such as the Catholic Alliance, Catholic Citizenship, and Catholics for the Common Good.

Father Casey also noted Flynn's international experience.

"He brings a worldwide vision of how he approaches his faith and what issues are important to him in following that faith. So, I think he'll bring a wonderful perspective of both the local scene and also issues that affect the entire world, and especially the Catholic population," Father Casey said.

World
Be grateful to parents, never insult them, pope says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Honoring mothers and fathers means being grateful for the gift of life and Christians should never insult anyone's parents, Pope ...

World
Canadian cardinal: Women should help screen, train priest applicants

Poznan, Poland, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- Increasing the role of women in screening and training priests is among the steps that should be taken to prevent future ...

World
Vatican delegation will travel to China this month to finalize agreement, Chinese newspaper reports

Beijing, China, Sep 18, 2018 CNA.- A newspaper tied to the Chinese Communist Party reported Tuesday that a delegation of Vatican officials will head to ...

World
Cardinal Marx says mistakes were made, calls for change in German church

Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops' conference, admitted that mistakes were made in the German church's handling of sex abuse of minors ...

Nation
Church crisis response: Healing Masses, listening sessions, fasting

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In response to the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Catholics are praying for victims, talking about their frustration and anger, ...

Nation
Pope names Minnesota priest as auxiliary bishop of Hartford

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Pope Francis has appointed Father Juan M. Betancourt, a priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, as auxiliary bishop ...

World
Listening church: Pope gives new vision for Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The Synod of Bishops increasingly should be a structure for listening to the Catholic faithful, demonstrating a local bishop's concern ...

Nation
Director of Courage releases letter on Penn. abuse report

Washington D.C., Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Courage International, an apostolate to support people with same sex-attraction in leading chaste lives, has issued ...

Nation
Richmond bishop apologizes to victims; commits to opening, reviewing files

RICHMOND, Va. (CNS) -- In celebrating the Diocese of Richmond's first Mass of Atonement for victims of abuse Sept. 14, Bishop Barry C. Knestout apologized ...

Nation
Stanford University to remove saint's name from some properties

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- California's Stanford University will strip the name of 18th-century Franciscan friar, St. Junipero Serra, from some of its properties ...

Nation
Catholic Charities distributes disaster relief to areas hit by Florence

RALEIGH, N.C. (CNS) -- The Carolinas were hard hit with record rainfall and flooding rivers from tropical storm Florence since it made landfall Sept. ...

Nation
Archbishop Lori assures diocese he's with them in journey toward healing

WHEELING, W.Va. (CNS) -- In his celebration of Mass at the Cathedral of St. Joseph in Wheeling Sept. 15, Archbishop William E. Lori of Baltimore said ...

World
Bishop takes a (sky) dive to get pilgrims to Lourdes

HOVE, England (CNS) -- "The Moth has landed," tweeted the Diocese of Arundel and Brighton. The tweet Sept. 14 and a similar post on the diocesan Facebook ...

World
Words, promises are not enough to prevent abuse, archbishop says

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Inviting presidents of the world's bishops' conference to the Vatican to discuss abuse prevention reflects an understanding that ...

World
Pope praises Capuchin order's charism of authenticity, simplicity

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Capuchins are called to be men of peace, reconciliation and prayer and to be close to all people, Pope Francis told members of the ...

Nation
Path to healing starts with seeking forgiveness, Cardinal Wuerl says

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- A "Season of Healing" for sexual abuse survivors began in the Archdiocese of Washington with a Sept. 14 Mass at the Cathedral of St. ...

World
Archbishop McCarrick's unofficial role in Vatican-China relations

Vatican City, Sep 17, 2018 CNA.- Following reports that the Holy See and the People’s Republic of China could be about to sign an agreement ...

Nation
Archbishop Chaput: When we forget faith, we forget our humanity

Spokane, Wash., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- When man tries to cling to reason and separate himself from faith, he forgets who he is and loses his source of hope, ...

World
Pope Francis warns priests against living a double life

Palermo, Italy, Sep 15, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- During a day trip to Sicily Saturday, Pope Francis told priests and religious to fight their vices and strive ...

World
What is the pontifical secret?

Vatican City, Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Following the allegations made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, ...

World
Vatican publishes list of synod participants, including papal nominees

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- To the list of members of the Synod of Bishops elected by national bishops' conferences, Pope Francis added cardinals from 14 countries, ...

Nation
Addicts and their loved ones talk about life with opioid addiction

ARLINGTON, Va. (CNS) -- It was a Saturday night, and Billy was eating pizza and watching a sporting event in the basement bedroom of his residence, a ...

Nation
Signers of letter hope Vatican meeting will bring needed steps on crisis

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Signers of an open letter from Catholic women to Pope Francis urging "truth" and "transparency" on the growing sex abuse crisis expressed ...

Local
Community 'overwhelmed and shell-shocked' after gas explosions, says pastor

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

World
Down to earth: Vatican brings together world's meteorite curators

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) -- Rocks, mineral debris and even dust from space are kept in special collections, museums and laboratories all over the ...

World
Algerian martyrs to be beatified in Algeria Dec. 8

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The beatification of 19 martyrs of Algeria, including the seven Trappist monks of Tibhirine, will be celebrated Dec. 8 in Oran, ...

Nation
'Anything but a picnic' - Cardinal Dolan on the Church's summer of scandal

New York City, N.Y., Sep 14, 2018 CNA.- Cardinal Timothy Dolan has spoken about how the extended sexual abuse scandals facing the Church have taken a ...

Local
Restoring and reimagining: Transformation at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross

BOSTON -- Considered by many to be the heart of the Archdiocese of Boston, the Cathedral of the Holy Cross is the largest Catholic church in New England, ...

Local
Archdiocese says Cardinal O'Malley will personally review all abuse letters

BRAINTREE (CAN) -- The Archdiocese of Boston has announced changes to the way it will process and respond to letters addressed to Cardinal Séan P. ...

Local
CM receives $2.5M grant from Yawkey Foundations

West Roxbury -- Catholic Memorial, a college-preparatory school for boys in grades 7 to 12, announced Sept. 5 that they have received a $2.5 million grant ...

Local
Father Christian Ohazulume removed from ministry

BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese announced on Sept. 11 that it had removed a priest from ministry after receiving an allegation that he sexually abused a ...

Local
From Cardinal Seán's blog

This week I am in transit to Rome in anticipation of the next meeting of the C9 Council of Cardinals. So, I have asked Vivian Soper to share some reflections ...

Nation
Kavanaugh's birth control comments spur controversy -- What did he say?

Washington D.C. (CNA) -- Opponents of Judge Brett Kavanaugh have suggested that a reference to birth control pills as "abortion-inducing drugs" during ...

Nation
Missouri to enforce abortion regulations in wake of appeals court ruling

Jefferson City, Mo. (CNA) -- Missouri's health department announced Monday that it will immediately being enforcing state laws regulating abortion clinics ...