The Archdiocese of Boston is not going to confront protesting parishioners. The archdiocese has no plans to force a confrontation with the small groups of people occupying churches. About 8 parishes are curently seeing occupations, but for most there is only a handful of people doing the protesting; most of the parishioners have moved on.
On the one hand, there is no pressing need to take action. The one thing we don’t need is pictures on the front page of the newspapers on the 6 o’clock news of little old ladies being dragged out of churches in handcuffs. And it’s not like we need to sell off these properties immediately. The parishes are closed, the priests are in the process of being re-assigned, and the people are slowly going to have to come to grips with the new reality. A few months of winter and long, lonely nights sleeping on hard pews may change some minds.
On the other hand, this isn’t just about public perception and “winning” and property. It’s also about the faith of the people sitting in those closed churches as well as that of Catholics who read about it every day in the newspapers. As long as this goes on, it means that there are people who have a faulty idea of what the Church is and they remain vulnerable to those who would take advantage of them, either by splitting them off into schism and heterodoxy or into Protestantism. The pastoral need is great and I hope that account is being made of this by the archbishop’s crisis management PR firm.