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Editorial -- Open the doors

GateHouse Media | Thu Apr 12, 2007

Scituate - It has now been 2 1/2 years since parishioners at St. Frances of Cabrini began their fight against the Archdiocese of Boston’s decision to close the church.

Not only have they pursued keeping the church open through the legal system with a lawsuit and by church means with an appeal to the Vatican, they have literally given themselves to the cause, keeping vigil in the church every night after coming through an unlocked side door and holding lay-led services like this weekend’s Good Friday, Holy Saturday and Easter gatherings.

(It should also be noted that, even in the midst of this battle, out of respect for their church and its rules, they have not called their services Masses. In fact, they have chastised us for doing so in articles about their efforts.)

According to Archbishop Sean O’Malley, the archdiocese closed parishes within the Boston Archdiocese because of demographic changes, a lack of clergy and financial issues with some of the churches. St. Frances members say their church was fiscally sound, and if the church can draw 200 people to an Easter service that wasn’t even official, it’s probably safe to say that attendance is not an issue.

“It really shows that the bedrock and foundation of our church community is still intact. I’m always in awe of our vigilers, both new and old, who are helping to keep our faith alive,” said Jon Rogers, one of the key figures in the fight with the archdiocese. “It seems as though people are getting the message.”

So why, after all this time, is the archdiocese insisting on keeping the church closed? Rogers thinks it’s trying to wait the parishioners out and hope they’ll give up, but that doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

“We’ve always thought that our church leaders would be supportive and attentive to our needs, but we’ve come to find that that’s not true,” Rogers said. “We’ve found that all our thoughts and perceptions about what the Catholic Church represents and stands for have been erroneous. This whole process has really been a learning experience.”

Whether or not that is the reason, it doesn’t need to happen. During a time when faith in the Catholic Church has been lagging, in large part due to scandals within the Boston Archdiocese, the parishioners of St. Frances of Cabrini should be an example to follow, not a rebellion to be defeated. Their faith in their church should be an inspiration, not an insurrection.

St, Frances of Cabrini and its parishioners have earned their reprieve. It’s time for the Archdiocese of Boston to give it to them.

Open the church, and let all its members spend their nights at home.