The Boston Archdiocese is in the news for ending a seven-year vigil at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in East Boston The archdiocese apparently changed the locks on the building.
Here is a link to one of the articles:
Parishioners fuming over lockout from Eastie church (Boston Herald)
After holding vigil inside their closed church for the past seven years, about 30 angry parishioners protested outside Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston yesterday — one day after they discovered the Archdiocese of Boston apparently changed the locks to the building.
“We thought it was vandalism,” said Steve Ashcraft, pointing out a broken key jammed in the front door’s key hole, adding that a side door was glued shut…. “We were put on notice that if we go into the church we’d be arrested.”
A group of about 70 people regularly attended services at the church since the archdiocese closed it about seven years ago. The archdiocese allowed them use of the building even though it was officially closed — until now.
The archdiocese released a statement yesterday through spokeswoman Kellyanne Dignan, who refused to elaborate on what the organization intends to do with the property, which includes a rectory and convent.
“For the better part of seven years, we have permitted the vigil while the petitioners pursued various appeals,” the statement said. “The time for this vigil to end has come.”
Ashcraft said the protesters, who lost a recent church ruling, have 60 days to appeal to the Vatican supreme court.
SCITUATE – On Day 2,731 of the unbroken vigil at St. Frances X. Cabrini, parishioners vowed to continue their occupation of the shuttered church, despite a move this week by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston that shut down a protest vigil in East Boston.
“We’re optimistic; we’re prayerful; we’re still here 24-seven,’’ said Maryellen Rogers, a leader of the St. Frances vigil, which has maintained at least one person at the church around the clock since it closed in 2004.
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley moved last year to deconsecrate the church and several others, so the buildings can be marketed and sold. Parishioners have appealed that decision to Vatican courts….
“The vigil at Mount Carmel is over, and it was the longest-running vigil,’’ said Peter Borre, head of the Council of Parishes, a group that fights church closings.
But Borre said Mount Carmel parishioners will appeal to the Vatican’s highest court to stop the church from being sold…
The Archdiocese has told parishioners at Mount Carmel that they can contact the property manager to retrieve any personal items left in the church, but they will not be permitted to hold services there anymore, said Kellyanne Dignan, an archdiocesan spokeswoman.
“We understand that those who have opposed the closing of Our Lady of Mount Carmel desired a different outcome,’’ the archdiocese said in a statement. “For the better part of seven years we have permitted the vigil while the petitioners pursued various appeals. The time for this vigil to end has come. We pray that they will choose to join an open and welcoming parish to experience the fullness of their faith through parish life.’’
The notion that the archdiocese could lock them out is one reason that the protesters at St. Frances X. Cabrini never leave the church empty.
On Friday, parishioner Pat McCarthy kept vigil on the afternoon shift, camped out in an easy chair in the church vestibule. She could not get the DVD player to work, and an unwatched episode of the television series Downton Abbey was on the table, near a half-made jigsaw puzzle….
The St. Frances protesters are still waiting for a decision on a Vatican appeal, they say, and could fight on to a higher canonical court even if they lose.
BCI knows that the matter of church closings and vigils is wrought with controversy. BCI hates to see even a single church close. Parishioners are fully justified in opposing the closing of their church and appealing to the Vatican through every channel available. The recent appeals in the Diocese of Cleveland were successful and resulted in the reopening of 12 parishes previously ordered closed. If you read the decrees from the Vatican, it is clear why the Congregation for the Clergy reversed the closing decisions and ordered the parishes reopened.
That said, while the appeals are underway, BCI is not a supporter of people occupying churches in vigils. The occupancies have cost the archdiocese millions of dollars because in many cases, the buildings have been maintained to residential standards. BCI on a number of occasions has suggested that the archdiocese simply change the locks on the doors and not let people enter the church buildings. The appeals should still run their canonical course–just without people living in the empty church buildings. So, in the specific case of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, BCI is not criticizing the archdiocese–we believe it was the right move to change the locks. While appeals continue, BCI thinks it would be better for the spiritual life of the former parishioners to move on to a welcoming parish where they can receive the sacraments and participate in the spiritual life of that parish. What do you think?