Church burned out in protesters’ town

Church burned out in protesters’ town

A Catholic church in Weymouth, Mass., was totally burned out last night. Sacred Heart church is in the same town as St. Albert the Great, the parish where the first sit-in against parish closings was held. Ironically, with Sacred Heart being burned out, they will need to send people to St. Albert. Had St. Albert actually stayed closed, they probably would have to re-open it, at least on a temporary basis.

Strange and wonderful are the ways of God.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
23 comments
  • Dom, the golden rule applies here: wouldn’t the Archdiocese be outraged if their money was intended for one purpose and used for another?—even if that undisclosed purpose was ultimately charitable.

    If the Archdiocese wants to restore trust, it simply has to be honest about what it does and take the heat.

    This “let’s hide it and hope no one finds out” is exactly the attitude that makes us think that the lessons of the sexual abuse scandal have not been learned.

    If you want a bigger and more agressive COP- and VOTF-type organizations keep this style of “management” going.  The faithful will come to see these organizations not as cranks but necessary watchdogs to expose the truth.

  • But the archdiocese says they didn’t take it for one purpose and use it for another, that people misunderstood. Now, as far as I know, everyone assumed that the donations were for priests’ retirement, including priests announcing it from the sanctuary, but I don’t think I ever saw anything from the archdiocese saying it. Then they didn’t do anything to disabuse people of the notion either.

    I don’t see what they gain by deceiving people. If they said it was for all priests, active and retired, I think people would have given the same amount.

  • It’s just a nit-pick on my part, but (along with Patrick) I think there is some legitimacy to complaints about the secretive “pray, pay and obey” attitude of many of the clergy that rankles even orthodox supporters.  If this was “Call to Action” saying, “well, yeah, the money was supposed to go to orphans and the elderly, but most of our members are elderly, so we kept it…”  you, me and everyone else on this list would be outraged.  At the very least we’d be deriding the notion that CTA’s motives were so pure that they needed a year-and-a-half to get their books straight.

    The hierarchy hasn’t exactly covered itself with plaudits for it’s honesty and transparency over the last 20 (30?) years and if this were Rembert Weakland, I think we’d all be approaching this a lot more suspisciously.  I absolutely refuse to give money to my diocese because of their penchant for taking it and paying for people to attend yoga-based navel gazing sessions and Roger (Hollywood) Mahony’s nominally catholic annual religious re-education conferences.  Despite the fact that everyone diocesan appeal talks about more priests, mission support, etc. 

    Though I have only the evidence of what’s printed in this blog, I’ll accept that the Diocese’ motive are as pure as the driven snow – but I still think there’s some wisdom in the old Reagan adage, “trust, but verify.”  In fact, with almost everyone over the rank of parish priest, if it were midnight and they said it was dark outside, I’d go look.

  • What category would homosexual predator priests fall under, active or retired? how much goes to them? how much to their victims?

  • Significant is the observation by the fire chief: “This is a tragic loss to the community. What [parishioners] have to remember is that the church is just a building, and their faith will guide them through.” Ya gotta have faith, else you’ll have only buildings or schools or personalities or the law.

  • I know, I know, I know I shouldn’t be thinking this…but how long before you think they’ll have a prelim. finding for/against arson?

  • …and with Faith it is not just a buliding. It’s the House of God, a truly Sacred Place were our Lord resides substantially.

  • I agree with Rob Quagan.  The church is a consecrated house of God.

    My first thought when I found out: If the Archdiocese finds the money to rebuild Sacred Heart, will they build another modernist Bauhaus “worship space” instead of the stately Gothic church?  The Church’s version of al-Qaeda (modernist liturgical “experts” and renovation consultants) will finish what the fire started by destroying our architectural patrimony.

  • I modify Lynne’s reply on the status of and benefits for such priests: Until they are “defrocked”—actually “reduced (or returned) to the lay state” by judgment from Rome), they are on “administrative” (or involuntary) leave.” 

    They receive their salary, medical insurance, etc., but they cannot “publicly present” (or identify) themselves as priests.  They may not offer Mass in public or publicly perform any other sacraments or blessings (except absolution and anointing of anyone in immediate danger of death).  Also, they may not wear clerical garb or visit the church where they were previously assigned or where any alleged abuse may have occurred. 

    These regulations may have difficulties in their observance or enforcement as in the case of where a priest on administrative leave in one diocese may take on the role of a priest in another place where he or his status is unknown or unchecked or in the case where complaints to church officials of such activities by a priest on administrative go unheard.

    In one diocese a priest was on administrative leave and receiving his salary and benefits for almost 30 years before a new bishop in that diocese finally sent his case to Rome with the successful result of the priest’s “defrocking.”  In another diocese a priest is still receiving his salary and benefits while in jail as the result of criminal judgment against him for the some of the actions for which he was placed on administrative leave.  A priest on administrative leave fled to “parts unknown,” but his monthly check is still sent to a Post Office box in his name.  I hope that public authorities are watching that P.O. box to see is anyone picks up his mail.
     

  • One’s heart must go out to the parishioners of Sacred Heart on the loss of their home of worship and community.  Perhaps none can better sympathize with their loss than the congregants of St. Albert the Great.  While I agree completely with deusvult’s taste in church architecture, his idea that the Archdiocese would find the funds to rebuild Sacred Heart strikes me as a bit fanciful.  If Sacred Heart will be rebuilt, the dough will come from parishioners.  who care to perpetuate their parish, whether or not the Sacramental Index or other measures justify that. As to the notion of arson committed by members of St. Albert, that’s gotta be a joke, right?

  • uthor_url>
    151.199.61.119
    2005-06-12 12:10:12
    2005-06-12 16:10:12
    Kelly—with all due respect, your experience is not normative.  Under Canon Law, people have an obligation to financially support their territorial parish.  They also have been (in my own lifetime) sent away from one parish and told they had to worship (and receive CCD instruction for their children) in another parish to which they territorially belonged.  And as to “belonging to a parish is nice—more than that desirable—but not mandatory,” that is just not true canonically.  You belong to a parish by dint of where you live.  Period.

    Granted, today people generally vote with their feet (or cars) and “belong” to whatever parish they care to attend.  But a longer view into our recent past shows us that this current approach to parish membership is just that—current.  People with even average memories can indeed recall mandatory membership in their territorial parish.

    When the Archdiocesan officials try to tell people that it’s now not the way they have always said it was, people rightly sense a contradiction—they’re not stupid.

    If people were generous in spirit, they might well approach consolidation of parishes the same way they did the relatively recent phenomenon of expansion of churches.  In the 1950s and 60s, Cardinal Cushing presided over a great number of new church (and parish) openings, and people were told that they no longer belonged to St. Old School Parish but now were canonically members of St. Newness Parish.  And the people, by and large, went to the new church—and eventually it became home.  People COULD do the same today in reverse.

  • Raise your hands if you remember exactly what was said for the last special collection at your parish.

    [raising hand]

    The last special collection at my parish was for the missions. Specifically, the Society for the Propagation of the Faith. That was three weeks ago.

    I do remember pretty much what was said. A priest from the mission gave the homily and spoke fairly plainly about the fact that Catholics in countries (and counties) other than the U.S. (and suburban Boston) have it…rather tough.

  • It’s good to get more detail about what was done with the money, but this doesn’t really explain the problem away. 

    When a collection is billed as for “retired and infirm priests”, donors are being asked to give for the needs of a special population, the aged and disabled.  They don’t expect the beneficiaries to be active priests.  Health care for active priests is a current operating expense, so the money was being spent, in part (perhaps in large part), in ways donors would not reasonably expect.

    Holding back the details of the spending until late 2006 doesn’t increase my confidence.  Will we find out that the Archdiocese was paying bills for treatment at St. Luke’s Institute and Southdown out of the Christmas collections?

  • Tom, you’re right.  Priests who have been found guilty of molestation should be defrocked much more quickly than they have been.  We have seen several priests defrocked in the past few weeks.  I hope the process picks up speed, especially given that many of these are getting a slap on the wrist by the authorities or the statute of limitations has passed and so they can’t be criminally prosecuted.

  • All of these comments point to the fact that none of us really know what our money is being used for.  Once it’s out of your hands and in the possession of the bureaucracy, anything can happen to it.  And, frankly, we donet that you can while away the hours with 212;except for anointing and absolution to someone in immediate danger of death.  These priests on permanent leave are considered “retired” and will receive retirement pay and other benefits for the rest of their lives—at the laity’s expense through the archdiocesan priests’ retirement fund or other account covering miscellaneous clerical expenses.

    One priest was returned to “active” ministry, although at an out-of-state VA Hospital, which knows of his previous status and allegations against him.  Why?  At the time of the alleged incident, the priest’s alleged victim was considered a consenting adult and not a minor unable to give such consent: He was 16 years old—just over the age limit of 15. 

  • What troubles me, however, is that no one at the archdiocesan level has come out forthrightly and said, “Of COURSE we’re going to rebuild Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth!  This parish is insured 100% with no deductible; the money to rebuild is available and we recognize our responsibility to this community to do so.”

    In the past, fires have ALWAYS been met with this kind of statement, even when they SHOULDN’T have been rebuilt.  St. Ambrose in Dorchester comes to mind; when Cardinal (then Archbishop) Law was first appointed, the old St. Ambrose burned down.  Johnny-on-the-spot, the Archbishop told the people AS THE FIRE BURNED that the church would be rebuilt.  It was only later that he discovered that St. Ambrose was a dying inner-city parish which could well have been suppressed, since there were far too many churches in Dorchester for the number of people attending Mass even in 1980.  But even Archbishop Law had the pastoral sense to comfort those who mourned the burning of their church building.

    As an aside, Abp. Law is also said to have remarked to the pastor—while the two of them watched the church burn—“By the way, get your hair cut, would you?”

    So much for pastoral sense!

  • Belonging to your territorial parish is ideal, but your own spiritual health (and that of your family, if ye be married) trumps any legalistic forces in this regard.

  • Kelly, I would never imagine that you would suggest that God would have desired the destruction of Sacred Heart, but I agree with you that the fire offers an extraordinary opportunity, not just to the parishioners of St. Albert the Great and the other Weymouth churches but to all who appreciate the trauma the members of Sacred Heart are and will continue to experience.  This is a time for compassion, hospitality, generosity, comfort and resolve—as well, perhaps, as Father Jim suggests for the confirmation that good insurance coverage was in place.

  • Kellyng parishioners: as in they get envelopes and use them…with real money.

    If what you’re saying is true, somebody better tell the Mother Church of the Archdiocese. Some—I daresay most—of our most active parishioners live ‘way outside the “territory.”

    However, one thing you wrote Father Clark will, God willing, remain etched in my memory:

    Under Canon Law, people have an obligation to financially support their territorial parish.

    Aside from the “territorial”—I don’t doubt you but I…well, doubt the territorial aspect—Amen. That means, I presume, that those who advocate “voting with your pocketbook” are in disobedience of Canon Law. And Church Precept #5, if I’m not mistaken (although I may be).

    Thank you.

  • Is a duty to support one’s canonical parish actually specified in canon law?  I can’t tell.

    The Code says (c222) that there’s a duty to provide for the needs of the Church.  On the other hand, I haven’t found anything to connect that specifically to one’s parish, territorial or personal (c518).  It might be in there somewhere, or in the diocesan laws.  Maybe it’s not disobedience to direct one’s giving elsewhere.

    It makes sense that the Cathedral has parishioners from all over.  The bishop is, after all, the pastor of all the faithful of the diocese.  I’ve heard it claimed, for example, that any of the faithful have the right to marry in the cathedral (under the usual conditions).

    On Holy Trinity: the faithful who attend the Latin Mass there are free to join the parish.  This wasn’t always the case, but I am told that at some point Bp. Boles gave permission.

    Y’know, I don’t mind if the Archdiocese hasn’t announced an intention to rebuild Sacred Heart, Weymouth, right away.  Is there any chance the faithful might want to join their parish with some other one?

  • It makes sense that the Cathedral has parishioners from all over.sts, I don’t know.

    Catholics (non-English speaking) had at varying degrees had to struggle with the Irish hierarchy to establish personal parishes of their own. This was to facilitate reception of the sacraments in their own language and foster the Catholic customs unique to their countries of origin at a time when we were united with a Latin (Tridentine) Liturgy. These groups included Bavarian Germans (hoch/platt Deutsche and Austro-Hungarians), French Canadians (Acadian and Quebecois), Italians (and Sicilians), Poles, Lithuanian and Croatians to name a few.

    With this background one begins to understand how the Faith was experienced by the average Catholic, at least in Boston. I’m sure it was frequently replicated elsewhere through out the New World. More often than not, the lives, memories and traditions of Catholic families and their experience with the Faith were tightly bound to the local Parish. For better or worse we can begin to understand how a culture of parochial allegiance would often get in the way of a Catholic world view.

    I believe the angst and confusion caused by the current (2003-2005) Parish Reconfiguration is borne out of a parochial culture that the hierarchy should bear much of the responsibility. To expect, to what I sarcastically refer to, an instant “Plug and Play” Catholicism may be unrealistic given the remnants of the said cultural backdrop. I’m of the opinion the current efforts by the RCAB to reconfigure is way too forced and there seems to be a pastoral ignorance of the implication remnants of Bostons overwhelmed may be my biggest understatement. Meanwhile the clock ticks toward 15 December and we have NO working relationship with any of the key decision makers of the Diocese.

    What takes the cake is our suppression is based on the :comment_status>open
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    28815

    croylelundin@comcast.net

    24.218.209.222
    2005-06-09 21:11:12
    2005-06-10 01:11:12
    Someone correct me if I am wrong but… wasn’t the founder of CofP a former VOTFer who got disgruntled with the VOTF leadership (Post) because Post didn’t like the CofP creation idea? Or something like that?

    Grasping at straws, the whole lot of them. Anything to give themselves a mission and a little media face time.

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