Desecrating a closed parish

Desecrating a closed parish

The Archdiocese of New Orleans, reeling from the Hurrican Katrina whammy, recently announced that it was merging some parishes, including St. Augustine’s, an historically black parish in the heart of New Orleans with a small congregation. Even though Sunday Masses were to continue to be celebrated in the church, the people were not happy and—taking a cue from some people in Boston—occupied the parish’s rectory in protest. At that point, it looked like the familiar pattern of a sit-in would follow. It was not to be.

Last Sunday, Mass was disrupted by protesters swarming the aisles with signs. This was not just recalcitrance and disobedience. This was sacrilege. In fact, Mass had to be stopped midway through. It turns out that this is no homegrown protest, but it is being fomented by outsiders.

Maestri said the bulk of Sunday’s protesters were members of Common Ground, an activist group, or were people who are being influenced by the group. ... Seruntine said she is among a group of young people who’ve occupied the church rectory for a week because they believe church officials are closing St. Augustine “without ever going through canon law.”

An interesting argument, although last week I pointed out that the protesters themselves said they didn’t know what the relevant canon law is. So how do they know it’s not being followed.

Apparently, the pastor expected problems since he asked 10 police officers in plainclothes to attend the Mass, including some members of the “welcoming” parish, in case things got out of hand.

The bishop’s strong response

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