We are gratified that this week the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled to strike down the Massachusetts law that allowed for the creation of 35-foot buffer zones around the entrance of abortion facilities.
For people to be able to express their convictions in public is a right, and we trust that those holding vigils at abortion clinics are not harassing people but rather praying for them and offering them an alternative because we know that many women opt to accept the help that is being offered to them by sidewalk counselors.
The Supreme Court’s decision is a very important one that protects religious freedom in a time when there are many challenges to religious rights.
I’d like to share with you the statement I released through the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops shortly after the decision was announced:
Today the Supreme Court found unconstitutional a Massachusetts law imposing criminal penalties on pro-life Americans who peacefully pray for and offer alternatives to pregnant women approaching abortion clinics. This discriminatory law barred these citizens from gathering on nearby public sidewalks, while exempting “clinic escorts” trained to expedite women into the facility. Clearly this was an attack on pro-life Americans’ freedom of speech, and we welcome the Court’s decision to overturn the law.
This now overturned legislation reflects an ominous trend in our society. Abortion supporters, having long denied that unborn children have a right to life, would deny that their fellow Americans who seek to protect the unborn have the same rights as other Americans — the right to freedom of speech and freedom of association; the right to participate in the public square and serve the vulnerable in accord with our moral convictions. Increasingly we see this trend evidenced at various levels of government. We are encouraged and pleased to know that with regard to this particular issue, our highest court has affirmed the American tradition of basic constitutional rights for all.
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Last Wednesday we celebrated the Jubilee anniversary Mass for our priests and religious brothers in the archdiocese. Along with our diocesan priests who were celebrating 25 years of ordination, there were two Xaverian Brothers celebrating 50 years of religious life, two Brothers of Hope celebrating 25 years, and one Salesian father who joined us for the celebration.
With the jubilarian priests
There was a concelebrated Mass in Bethany Chapel and afterwards we had a gathering with them and their friends and families.
With the jubilarian brothers
It was a very joyful occasion to be able to celebrate the jubilees of our priests and consecrated religious.
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Thursday, was the final meeting of the archdiocese’s Improved Financial Relationship Committee. They have been very successful in guiding and implementing the archdiocese’s financial new model that promotes greater cooperation between the archdiocese and the parishes.
Their dedication was extraordinary. I believe they have had more than 50 meetings over the years. We are very grateful to all those who volunteered and serve so generously on that board along with our staff members who have done extraordinary work and particularly Denise McKinnon-Biernat.
To thank them for all their hard work over these many years at the end of the last meeting we had a light reception with them.
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Friday, I was visited by Bishop John Baptist Kaggwa of the Diocese of Masaka, Uganda. He was accompanied by Father Joseph Kayongo, who is a priest from Uganda who ministers to the Ugandan Catholic community here in the archdiocese while pursuing a graduate degree at Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, and Fathers Emmanuel Delli and David Ssenkaii.
Bishop Kaggwa was in Boston for the annual Mass for the Ugandan Martyrs, celebrated at St. Mary Parish in Waltham. The Mass is always an inspiring tribute to the faith of the Ugandan people and an uplifting and joyous celebration.
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Saturday, I visited St. John Parish in Townsend to dedicate and bless their new parish center. It was the Feast of Corpus Christi so there was a Eucharistic procession at the conclusion of the Mass.
The whole parish participated in the celebration and part of the celebration was the blessing of the new parish center.
Father Jeremy St. Martin is pastor at St. John’s. He is doing just a fabulous job there and oversaw the construction of this new center. I know it will be a wonderful resource for the parish for years to come.
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Sunday, as we do each year in the spring, we have an opportunity for couples from throughout the archdiocese who are celebrating significant wedding anniversaries to come to a Mass at the Cathedral and to renew their vows. We had a full Cathedral for the celebration this year.
Couples celebrating more than 60 years of marriage:
50th anniversary couples:
25th anniversary couples:
Among those renewing their vows were the parents of Father Jonathan Gaspar and Mary Ann McLaughlin co-director of our office of worship and spiritual life.
It is always a beautiful, happy occasion.
During this year’s celebration we were blessed to have a relic of St. John Paul II present at the Cathedral. The relic was brought in procession at the beginning of the Mass and placed by the altar.
Afterwards, it was taken to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel, where the lines to venerate it were out the door.
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Then, in the afternoon, I went to greet the people at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help (Mission Church). It was the Feast Day of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, who is the Patroness of Haiti.
There was great enthusiasm because the new Cardinal from Haiti came to celebrate the Mass this year, Cardinal Chibly Langlois, who is staying with me at the rectory.
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During Cardinal Chibly’s stay with us at the cathedral rectory we were visited by Brother Jim Peterson and Father Frantz Giles, a Capuchin from Haiti who is staying in Boston this month.
It was good to learn about the Capuchins’ ministry in Haiti and how they are assisting with the ongoing work of assisting people in need there and rebuilding the work of the Church following the devastating earthquake there.
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Then that evening, I attended the annual gala dinner to support our Redemptoris Mater Seminary which was held in Norwood.
This year, they honored Bob Mahoney, who serves on our archdiocesan finance Council and John Garvey, President of the Catholic University of America.
With Bob Mahoney and his family
With President Garvey and Bob before the dinner
President Garvey was the evening’s keynote speaker.
He delivered a stunning address to the people on the effects that artificial contraception has had on modern society by separating sexuality from the transmission of life and from relationships. It was a very powerful exposition that I think was a very important one.
The Church’s teachings on contraception are often little understood and sometimes greeted with great condescension on the part of secular society. Even by some Catholics, this teaching is seen as another one of the Church’s “goofy rules.” The Church’s rules are not goofy. There is great wisdom behind them and President Garvey’s very erudite and cogent presentation of the Church’s teaching on contraception was one of the best that I have heard. Fortunately, there was a video taken of the talk, so you have a chance to hear it for yourself:
The dinner was a great success. I understand it was the largest attendance that they have had so far and many priests from throughout the diocese attended.
As they do every year, the seminarians sang a number of songs for us at the end of the dinner.
During one song, they even briefly put a sombrero on the head of Dr. Helen Jackson!It was just a very joyful evening and we were very happy to be able to honor two very fine Catholic laymen, Bob Mahoney and President Garvey.
Until next week,