They must be turning over in their graves!

      Nearly a month ago we wrote an editorial on the alarming circumstances of a bishop in Kentucky closing all the churches on Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, mandating all constituents in the Diocese of Lexington attend an "arena Mass" at Rupp Arena on the UK campus if they want to make Mass on that particular Sunday. That's pretty sad, but we've discovered something sadder in another diocese. Whereas Bishop James Kendrick Williams wants to close all the churches for one day, Cardinal Bernard Law is mulling over the idea to close several churches for good. This is alarming in itself, but when you consider where he wants to shut down the edifices of worship, it could be even more alarming. You see he is the head shepherd of the Archdiocese of Boston, long a Catholic stronghold on the Eastern seaboard. On the eve of that celebrated feast of Saint Patrick, there has to be a bit of sadness in the Irish generation of today that these magnificent testaments to prayer and the true faith will go the way of so many trees, so many condemned buildings. Surely their ancestors, the ones who gave of their sweat, blood, time, talent and treasures to build them, are turning in their graves. Many, who came from the Olde Sod in search of a better life, based their entire lives on these buildings they built, not for their honor but for the honor and glory of God...for a suitable abode for their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ Who would preside in the most beautiful and majestic of tabernacles. But many of those tabernacles, since Vatican II, have already been removed, either shelved into a back room or off to the side, replaced by the sedentia where the "presider" now sits in place of the King of Kings.

      What so many built with their unselfish sweat and blood, selfishness could very well destroy. Cardinal Law, when announcing that possibly sixty out of the 387 parishes in the Boston area would be closed, used as his rationale that people are just too busy to attend services regularly. Say what!?! What have we come to when one of the highest prelates of the land is dictated by modern tendencies? What have we come to when he caves in to the pressure of finances? What have we come to when Mass attendance declines two percent annually over the last five years? The answer for this southern-born red hat, now assigned to the eastern establishment of Boston: we close the churches. What ever happened to the wisdom of re-educating the people as to the rich Spiritual Treasury of the Church? What ever happened to establishing programs that would entice people back home, to want to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? Why doesn't the Boston red hat decree something unique - offer the Latin Mass in all sixty of the targeted churches to be closed? Why doesn't he allow adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in these churches? Do you think the people would stay away then? Perhaps some of the parishioners might if they're that lukewarm, but we suspect there would be twice as many who would make up the difference with the opportunity to show reverence through the rich traditions of the Tridentine Mass and Adoration. It's a novel idea that has worked in other dioceses. Why not try it in Boston? To our knowledge it hasn't been banned in Boston, or has it? Only one church currently offers Latin Mass in the immediate Boston area - and only on Sundays at Holy Trinity Church on Shawmut Avenue. Even San Francisco, where the former Archbishop John Quinn shut down numerous churches before finally giving that diocese a much needed breath of fresh air by resigning, has five churches offering the Tridentine Mass. Consider little Peoria, Illinois - with a population that Boston would dwarf - lists six churches that offer the Latin Mass, and not just on Sunday. The reason: Bishop John Myers who makes sure his flock is instructed on the truths of their faith and instills in them a thirst for learning more about their faith where they yearn to do more for Christ, not less as seems to be the case with Boston Catholics. We know the latter have the reputation for being some of the most modernist Catholics who spout relativity in the country, after all this is the same archdiocese that gave us the Kennedy relatives and good ol' Teddy Kennedy and his ilk - pro-death Catholics who are only Catholic in name. Do the rest of the Bostonians want to go the way of Teddy? If they pressure the cardinal into closing down more churches, using the feeble cries of priest shortages and that people are "too busy to go to church" then, indeed, they'll be driving right off that Chappaquiddick precipice also. No, what they need is a heavy dose of common sense. It's time the cardinal, who is outspoken in so many other things, stands up for Holy Mother Church and tells the people he's running the Archdiocese. Rather than shutting them down, he should announce he's going to enlist people to renovate these masterful, but neglected edifices of glory. If there are people of faith left in Boston, and we feel there are many, they will respond to the challenge and turn out in droves. They would turn out even more if they were getting their money's worth in doctrine and the sacraments, especially Confession. Add in a liberal - they like that word in Boston - dose of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, and you'd be surprised how this crisis would turn into a great blessing. The cardinal has cited that the number of diocesan priests will have dropped from 738 today to 573 by 2005. That's seven years away. If he would get busy today and start a renaissance of the faith as the Holy Father has asked, then there could very well be a plethora of vocations with seminaries teeming in 2005 and many ready for ordination, signalling an abundance of priests not only for Boston, but the entire country. If only the bishops could see this vision like Bishop Myers, Archbishop Charles Chaput, OFM Cap. of Denver, and Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz to name just a few of the bishops who have already implemented this plan because they don't want to get caught short, either in their diocese or when the time comes to answer to their Master what they did to promote His Church.

     While there may be some churches in Boston and other places that are so dilapidated they could be beyond repair, we suspect most can easily be refurbished but only if the cardinals, archbishops and bishops refurbish their priorities. With all due respect to these shepherds, we respectfully ask you: Take the challenges from Pope John Paul II seriously, and implement all he has asked. He truly does have a method to his madness. Afterall, he's guided by the Holy Spirit. That you can take to the bank. And if they put into practice what the Vicar of Christ is requesting, out of obedience to the man they must answer to, then the people will respond in droves. With those kind of results, the bishops will be able to take that to the bank to refinance any costs of renovating or rebuilding churches that have lasted for generations and will be solvent and an impact for future generations. It's the only solution to the problem in Boston and the rest of the dioceses throughout the United States and around the world. Not to implement these spiritual measures would be disastrous and cause the loss of many souls who have gone the way of modernism because their bishops have allowed it. That in itself, is reason to believe they, who gave so much of their lives and of themselves to perpetuate the faith, must be turning over in their graves!

Michael Cain, editor

Daily CATHOLIC          March 16, 1998