A Distanced Al Smith, With COVID At The Door

(1.20am ET – Updated with further developments.) 

Every fourth year, what’s normally the third Thursday in October is always a moment to remember. But both in terms of its setting and the turmoil of a brutal campaign amid a crisis-ridden national scene, there’s never been an Al Smith Dinner like this one.

Far from its usual home before a white-tie and ballgown-ed crowd at the Waldorf-Astoria in Midtown Manhattan before a crowd approaching 2,000, what was intended to be a 50-person gathering in light of the ongoing pandemic was scrapped following concerns expressed by the New York state government. In its place, the ultimate church-state moment of six decades of presidential campaigns – by tradition, the nominees’ lone joint appearance outside the debates – went all-virtual, with Cardinal Timothy Dolan performing virtual “host” duties from his Madison Avenue residence.

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Anti-Religious Crusaders Are Feeling Bold These Days

Mario Tama

Father Arturo Corral speaks during socially distanced baptism ceremonies at the historic Our Lady Queen of Angels (La Placita) Church amid the COVID-19 pandemic on Sept. 26 in Los Angeles, California. Parishioners from separate families are seated in socially distanced chairs and are required to wear face coverings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. While the COVID-19 pandemic originally caused a backlog of around 600 baptisms at the church, La Placita is now able to conduct the ceremonies outdoors for the faithful in the church plaza. The church, dedicated in 1822 when California was a part of Mexico, primarily serves members of the Latino community and is the oldest Catholic church in Los Angeles.

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Together with the Elderly: a Pastoral Ministry that Reaches Out

After launching the campaign “Every senior is your grandparent  – #SendYourHug,”  which has had an incredible resonance throughout the world, the e-book “The Richness of Many Years of Life,” a collection of the proceedings from the first international conference on the pastoral care of the elderly which was organized by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family, and Life in January 2020, is now available for free on our website: www.laityfamilylife.va

The goal of the conference was to promote a renewed concern for the pastoral care of the elderly in every ecclesial community. Yet during the conference itself, nobody imagined that the talks and reflections would have proven to be so timely and essential just a few short weeks later when the “lockdowns” in many countries began. The elderly today are the first and most numerous victims of the pandemic, of loneliness, and of isolation. Yet at the same time, the elderly are also those without whom the newer generations would have no roots or identity. Because of this, the Church has a cultural and educational imperative to work towards correcting the demeaning representation of old age which predominates in many societies today, in ways that involve all generations in the process of renewal.

In fact, with this e-book, the Dicastery intends to make this toolkit available to everyone, as an instrument for the development of a true “pastoral ministry that reaches out,” one which is able to involve the elderly as active participants in this ecclesial responsibility. As the Church, we are called to form networks of collaboration and solidarity between dioceses, parishes, lay ecclesial communities, associations, and families which put concern for the elderly at the center of our commitment. The presentations, and above all the conclusions, presented in these texts contain valuable information that we hope will aid in the concrete implementation of this mission.

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In Times of Pandemic, the Mission Continues

The Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and of the Pontifical Mission Societies issued the following statement in preparation for World Mission Day, which will be observed on October 18.


The proclamation of the Gospel continues in every corner of the world. The preparation for World Mission Day, which is confirmed on October 18, is underway in the local Churches of the five continents.

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