Sunday, March 8, 2009

The Faithful in Massachusetts keep Vigil

Mass. Catholics occupying imperiled churches 24-7

"We don't have faith in the archdiocese. I think we have faith in God," said Sheila O'Brien, 63.

She and the others have been occupying St. Therese as part of a string of sit-ins going on round-the-clock for more than four years at five Roman Catholic churches closed by the Boston Archdiocese. The protesters are hoping to force the archdiocese — or the Vatican — to reopen the churches.

The archdiocese has said it won't remove any of the protesters by force. It has not cut off the electricity in any of the churches and has kept the heat and water on in all of them except St. Therese, where the archdiocese is refusing to pay $50,000 to fix a boiler.

The archdiocese has given no sign it will reopen any of the churches, but the parishioners are resolute.

"We must be a thorn in their side," said 71-year-old Lee Pratto, who sleeps on a cot in the chapel at St. Therese.

Cardinal Bernard Law enjoys semi-retirement in the old papal palace at St Mary Major Basilica in Rome, one of the oldest church sites in Christiandom. While he basks in the Roman sun, some of the little people he failed so miserably as a CEO of the Archdiocese of Boston, cling to their old parish churches and their faith.

I am passing this on to those of who the spirit may send here to read and wonder where Christianity is going to in this down cycle of history.

It was the few and the dedicated, both men and women, in the early church that suffered persecution for the sake of faith that kept the faith alive even when it was not possible to survive in many circumstances.

Jon Rogers, who has taken part in the occupation of St. Frances X. Cabrini church in the town of Scituate, said: "We own this place. They don't, and we're keeping it."

Rogers said he believes the archdiocese targeted his church for closing because of its valuable 30 acres of coastal real estate south of Boston.

"It's your church until they basically decide they need to liquidate the assets to pay off the sins of their past, not ours," he said.

At the occupied churches — which also include Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston, St. Jeremiah in Framingham and St. James the Great in Wellesley — the protests long ago settled into a routine. Parishioners pass time paying bills, doing puzzles and praying, sometimes holding services in which they use Communion wafers blessed by sympathetic priests.

One has to wonder if Cardinal Law got his plum assignment as a reward for his work in covering up clergy misconduct and buggery or whether he is under house arrest in a gilded cage.

Of course he may have bribed his way into this assignment with a few bearer bonds that may have gone into semi-retirement with him.

Enough of talking about RC hierarchy trash. I find it a wonder after the collapse of the monolithic Soviet Union and the recent collapse of monolithic western capitalism, that the monolithic Vatican Party is doing so well. Or is it?

The Vatican got a lot of good press through the years. The novelty of rock star popes has worn off and is stuck in neutral trying to deal with the current wiener schnitzel flavored Vatican corporate culture. With six you get egg roll?

They tried to reform the church with the Vatican II Council. They forgot to reform the Vatican Politburo and numb nut bureaucracy. They keep appointing loser bishops who keep downsizing parishes. Why can’t they find a few good men, holy with vision to the future etc. Yeah right.

The faithful holdouts in Massachusetts gives me hope that the RC church and the Christian church in general will be able to rise from the ashes of this current Vatican and American church meltdown.

Reading into the history of the big churches of Rome, one sees a timeline where the papacy leaves Rome after every major earthquake that destroys its biggest churches. My apologies to tourists and the good people of Rome. I do not wish them any ill will. But that earthquake, that ultimate act of God and or nature is long over due.

Once the juggernaut of the Vatican bureaucracy is compromised, the RC church will have a chance to flower and flourish again.

Until then, the little people, the people of God, the church, endures and keeps vigil.