On Friday, February 20, 2004, Beliefnet hosted an online chat in conjunction with Churchwerks.com. Chatting from the floor of the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, California, Cardinal Roger Mahony talked about topics as diverse as cloning, his city's new cathedral, and Mel Gibson's movie "The Passion of the Christ."

Welcome to Beliefnet's online chat with Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, leader of America's largest Catholic diocese. Cardinal Mahony is speaking with us from the floor of the Religious Education Congress in Anaheim, Calif.

Good morning, everyone!

Here's a question from user "Noel": I am currently in the MAPM program at St. John's and am looking forward to helping the people of God in my parish at St. Raphael's. Where do you see the role of Pastoral Associates in the next 5 years? Are the pastors ready for this role in their parishes?Pastoral Associates are very important to the life of a parish, since they are prepared to deal with every kind of pastoral issue, question, or problem that arises in a parish.As with anything, some pastors are more ready than others--but watch for increasing receptivity.

Victoria: I am very impressed with your initiative of "Whole Community Catechesis". How do you see it unfolding with regard to roles of DRE/CRE? Are you fearful that, in abandoning the schoolroom model, we will create yet another generation with no doctrine to back up their Faith?Actually, Whole Community Catechesis will deepen faith life--right now, parents just drop the kids off at Church, and leave.

With their personal involvement in the process, that helps everyone know and pass on their faith.That means they should take advantage of adult education programs at their parishes, right?Yes, and after the Synod, there will be many more adult education programs all around the Archdiocese.

Rey: Since statistics from the Catholic church show that Hispanics are now the majority of the faithful in many dioceses across the U.S. -- and will be the majority of the faithful in the near future -- what is the church doing to respond to this tremendous pastoral need that is now amongst us all? Many of our Churches have very active and strong pastoral outreach to our Hispanic community. But we must always do more--esp. by involving our best people in leadership roles.

Leonel M.: Mel Gibson's upcoming movie "The Passion of the Christ" has had more than its share of headlines for the last year or more. But what is the relationship of Gibson's church near Malibu to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles? Is it part of a schismatic group?I know nothing about the Church in Malibu. It is certainly not in communion with the Universal Catholic Church nor the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.I have never met Mr. Gibson, and he does not participate in any parish of this Archdiocese. He, apparently, has chosen to live apart from the communion of the Catholic Church. I pray for him.The Holy Spirit is promised to the Church, as well as the presence of Jesus: "Behold, I am with you all days until the end of the world.

" Those words were spoken to the Church, not to an individual in any century.We have several related questions about Mel Gibson; I'll try to summarize them. Many people have the impression that Mel Gibson is--for lack of a better word--a "regular" Catholic. Could you briefly explain the Catholic traditionalist movement?Actually, there is no such thing as the "Catholic traditionalist, modernist, movement." Either one is in full communion with the Catholic Church, in unity with the Successor of Peter, or not. One cannot pick and choose which Pope to follow, especially dead ones, or which teaching to follow--and then set aside the rest. Such people may be very nice people, but that doesn't make them "Catholic" in the true sense.Even the media is beginning "to get it" about these groups. We must give full assent to the Creed and all that the Church teaches.So if Mel Gibson does not accept the Church's teachings as outlined in Vatican II documents, he's "not Catholic in the true sense"?The Sixteen Documents of the Second Vatican Council constitute the accurate, authentic teaching of the Church. Those teachings are now contained in the Catechism of the Church. If one chooses to set aside any of those, then they choose to separate themselves from the unity of the Church.Keep in mind that the first temptation of Adam and Eve was precisely this: Satan told them, "you will be like gods, choosing good and evil." Wrong.Users also ask if you plan to see "The Passion of the Christ.
Someone has offered to give me a VHS of the movie, and I will view it.

floralmom: Do you think it's possible to make a realistic movie about Jesus' crucifixion that doesn't make Jews look bad?Scripture is very clear that the people throughout the Gospels were supported of, and responsive to, Jesus. It is the small group of leaders who are always jealous and seeking to silence him; eventually, to kill him.