Parishionerswho have kept vigil at closed churches are piggybacking on the mediablitz leading up the arrival of Pope Benedict XVI this week, hopingthey, too, will be heard by the Vatican and Roman Catholics across thecountry.
Dozens of scorned Catholics are expected at Wellesley’s St. Jamesthe Great church today, where parishioners have held a vigil since itsclosure in October 2004. A similar event will take place in New York anhour later.
“Our message to all American Catholics is this: What has happened inBoston over the past four years is probably going to happen to yourparishes in your diocese over the next few years,” said Peter Borre,co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, an advocacy group for parishesin the Boston archdiocese. “No parish is safe.”
Borre is coordinating today’s events at 2 p.m. in Wellesley and at 3p.m. in New York, where Borre plans to announce the formation of anational parish advocacy group.
Several closed Catholic churches in the Boston archdiocese havepetitioned to be reopened and have appeals pending at the Vatican. Ahandful, like St. Frances Cabrini in Scituate, remain in vigil.
Some area Catholics have lashed out at Benedict for not stopping inBoston, the launching pad of the national clergy sex abuse scandal of2002 and home to dozens of closed parishes and numerous abuse victims.Benedict arrives Tuesday for a six-day trip to Washington and New York.
For Jon Rogers, who has kept vigil at St. Frances, Benedict’sdecision to skip Boston has not deterred his drive to get the church heloves reopened.
“We’re going to fight this fight forever,” said Rogers. “We need togive Benedict that message. We need to go back to the mission of Christand spread the good word, not streamline and downsize the CatholicChurch in America today.”
Gina Scalcione, who has held vigil at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston, had harsher words about Benedict’s visit.
“If somebody paid me money to go see him, I wouldn’t go see him,”she said. “It all starts with him. Everything that has happened to thisreligion is his fault.”