House defeats church oversight bill
Jan. 25: The House of Representatives has overwhelmingly voted down a measure that would have given the state the power to oversee church finances. The House voted 147-3 to defeat “An Act Relative to Charities.” The bill, sponsored by Sen. Marion Walsh, D-West Roxbury, would have subjected religious organizations to the same financial reporting requirements as other non-profit organizations in the state. The bill was widely seen as aimed at forcing greater financial disclosure by the Archdiocese of Boston. Opponents of the bill have said that it is unnecessary and impedes religious freedom by eliminating all existing exemptions in the charitable reporting statues for churches and religious organizations.
Catholic Charities ceases adoption work
March 10: The board of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston announced that the organization would no longer provide adoptions. The difficult decision came a week after the four bishops of Massachusetts declared that Church teaching prohibited Catholic agencies from placing adoptive children with same-sex couples. Eight members of Catholic Charities board of directors resigned in protest of the decision.
Hundreds attend Cardinal Seán’s first public Mass upon
his return to Boston
April 1: St. Theresa of Avila Parish was abuzz with excitement and anticipation as parishioners and guests awaited the arrival of Boston’s new cardinal, Seán P. O’Malley. Before going to Rome for his elevation to the College of Cardinals March 24, Cardinal O’Malley chose St. Theresa’s to be the site of his first public Mass back in the States. “I was thrilled when Cardinal O’Malley called and asked if we could hold a Mass of Thanksgiving upon his return from Rome,” said Msgr. William Helmick, pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish. “I really did not expect the call, but I was very happy to accommodate and told him it would be an honor for our parish.” Hundreds of people filled the parish, sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the pews and standing at the back and sides of the church--wherever a free spot allowed. After the opening procession, the congregation greeted Cardinal O’Malley with a standing ovation.
“It’s a great joy to be here,” he responded.
Bishop Lennon wished well at Chrism Mass
April 11: Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley urged the priests gathered at the annual Chrism Mass on April 11 to renew their commitment to Christ and his Church and shepherd the flock with sacrificial love. Hundreds of priests from the Archdiocese of Boston renewed their vows at the annual Mass in which the sacramental oils used during baptisms, confirmations, ordinations and the anointing of the sick are consecrated. Cardinal O’Malley began his homily by wishing Auxiliary Bishop Richard G. Lennon, vicar general and moderator of the curia, well in his new position as bishop of the Cleveland Diocese. Bishop Lennon will be installed on May 15. “I know it’s very hard for New Englanders to leave New England,” the cardinal said. He then told a story about a Boston bishop who went to Pittsburgh, Pa., where his hosts proudly showed him where two rivers come together to form the Ohio River. According to the story, the bishop responded that, in Boston, the Charles and Mystic rivers come together to form the Atlantic Ocean. “My advice to you, Bishop Lennon, is when they show you Lake Erie, look excited.” the cardinal said. “Our prayers and our gratitude accompany him,” Cardinal O’Malley added. Following that remark Bishop Lennon received a standing ovation from the priests and others in attendance.
New interim head of Caritas Christi appointed
May 25: Caritas Christi’s board of governors appointed John B. Chessare as interim president and secretary after the previous president, Dr. Robert Haddad, resigned in the face of accusations of sexual harassment by more than a dozen female employees who said they had been subjected to unwanted hugs and kisses.
Cardinal blogs from Rome
Sept. 26: From advice on how to live a life of prayer to descriptions of casual encounters with American tourists, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley’s latest effort to communicate with his flock is making a splash both in Boston and in cyberspace. The cardinal is documenting his most recent 11-day trip to Rome with a Web log or “blog” launched for the occasion: www.cardinalseansblog.org. “It was suggested I use a blog to communicate with everyone but primarily with young people, to speak to them in their own media,” he said. “It has not been my practice to bring people to Rome, but I thought I could share some of the experiences of this trip with Boston Catholics over the Internet,” he said.
A week later, in what was expected to be the last installment of his online venture, the cardinal announced that he intends to continue the effort on a weekly basis. “With this being my last post from Rome, I am happy to announce to you that I will continue to communicate directly with you through my blog each week when I return to Boston. It’s my hope to make a post once a week, on Friday of each week, starting this coming Friday. So, I invite you back to my blog and look forward to sharing and communicating with you well into the future,” he wrote.
Cardinal ordains two new bishops
Dec. 12: Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley ordained Bishops John A. Dooher and Robert F. Hennessey Dec. 12, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The crowd at the ordination more than filled the 1,800-seat Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The ceremony was attended by more than 30 bishops and more than 300 priests and leaders from other religious faiths, including Rev. Diane Kessler, the executive director of the Massachusetts Council of Churches and Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Methodios of Boston. The ordination began with a procession and the Mass readings. The rite of episcopal ordination followed. The bishops-elect were presented for ordination and the apostolic letters of appointment were read.
Compiled by Neil W. McCabe