MetroWest Daily News
August 15, 2020
By Arthur McCaffrey/Guest Columnist
We are in the midst of a global pandemic which has changed everybody’s lives, perhaps for ever. And yet here we have a Vatican pronouncement that things have not changed, that the priest is still the parish boss, that we should all get back to playing our traditional passive PPO (‘pray, pay, obey’) roles.
Between 2004 and 2016, dozens of parishes and hundreds of parishioners in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston (RCAB) protested Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s (SOM) attempts to close and sell off their parish churches in order to pay off a huge pile of debt incurred from paying out financial settlements to victims of clergy abuse.
In 2004, the newly arrived Archbishop slated over 80 diocesan parishes for closure, including many that were vibrant, viable, financially and religiously sound communities of faith. In response, a grassroots resistance movement spontaneously erupted. Many parishes actively challenged O’Malley’s decision, and several (including my own) went into full-time vigil, occupying their churches 24/7, so as not to be locked out. These became known as “Vigil” parishes, quickly spawning imitators all around the country as other bishops and other parishes disagreed about how best to honor heritage and keep their beloved churches open.
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