Parishioners at St. Bernard in Newton, Mass., say they’ve been betrayed by the Archdiocese of Boston. Where have I heard that before? They said they were persuaded to give up their sit-in last winter when Archbishop O’Malley promised to restore them as a fully functioning parish with no restrictions.
In a letter dated Dec. 17, 2004, , O’Malley said he wanted to ‘‘clarify” his intention regarding reconfiguration of Newton’s seven parishes. ‘‘I am reaffirming that St. Bernard’s, West Newton is to remain open as a fully functioning parish,” he said. The statement did not elaborate on a timetable.
That’s not how it happened at all. This is what the official statement from the archdiocese, dated December 14, said:
[T]he Newton Catholic population at St. Bernard and Corpus Christi parishes invites further analysis and evaluation; ... One priest will be administrator for both Saint Bernard Parish and Corpus Christi Parish and will work with both parishes during the course of the coming year in order to make a recommendation for providing pastoral care in an ongoing and stable manner for these two communities.
And in this Boston Globe story, dated December 17, it is clear that St. Bernard and Corpus Christi parish would merge:
O’Malley announced Tuesday that St. Bernard could remain open, but over the next year it would have to meet with parishioners from nearby Corpus Christi in Auburndale and devise a plan to merge the two churches.
At the time, a leader of the protest acknowledged what was happening:
“We do not like the process put before us,” said Joe Drake, cochairman of the Friends of St. Bernard, a group established to oversee the vigil. “It’s pitting Catholics against Catholics. It’s an unfair situation.”
For these same people to claim ignorance of that fact is to ask us to ignore the facts.
The prayer vigil, the third in as many weeks, is intended to send the message that parishioners expect the archdiocese to restore St. Bernard to its former stature as a fully functioning church. “We quite frankly aim to make them keep that commitment,” said Joseph Drake, one of three cochairs of Friends of St. Bernard.
The bottom line is that the archdiocese never promised that St. Bernard would be completely restored as a fully functioning parish, but that over the next year they would have to work with their neighboring parish to determine how, at the end of the alloted time, there would be one parish remaining. Like petulant children, they want to pretend that they weren’t told what they don’t want to hear and that they only heard what they wanted.