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Christine Roussel, a member of ARCC and former ARCC Board member and Editor of ARCC's newsletter ARCC Light, has been so troubled by the parish closings in the Boston area, and especially the plight of the parishioners of St. Albert the Great, that she wrote a couple of long letters to Archbishop O'Malley in October 2004.  Here follows her more recent letter to the parishes whose parishioners are gently protesting through their vigils.


6 December 2004

To the Parishes of :

St. Albert the Great, East Weymouth, MA 02189
St. Anselm, Sudbury, MA 01776
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, East Boston, MA 02128
St. Bernard, West Newton, MA 02465
St. Frances X. Cabrini, Scituate, MA 02066
St. Therese, Everett, MA 02149
Infant Jesus-St. Lawrence, Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
St. James the Great. Wellesley, MA 02482

Dear Friends in The Vigil Parishes,

I think it is time that the Catholics of the United States thanked you for the marvelously brave actions you have taken to save your parishes. We all owe you a great debt. You are daring to stand and say to the seat of ecclesiastical power in Boston, "This is wrong and we will not give in to wrong, we will not willingly cooperate with an unjust act, so long as we are able to resist. Our parish church, our rectory and school were built by our financial sacrifices. We have supported our parish for years and contributed to the support of the archdiocese as well. We are a vibrant parish community. Now you tell us that this is not enough, that this property we paid for and supported must be sold to pay for the incompetencies of several episcopal administrations, and our community must be scattered. This is being done without our consent, in contravention of canon law and the clear particular instructions of the Holy See. You come as ravaging wolves instead of good shepherds and we will resist you because what you are trying to do is wrong."

I say that we all owe you a great debt for your example of courage because we know that your decision to act was not easy and your fortitude in maintaining vigils in your parish churches requires sacrifices of time, energy, expense, and convenience. I am sure you are criticized by many for making trouble and rocking the boat. The boat was, however, in great need of rocking. The hierarchy has become accustomed to the laity paying, praying, and obeying. You have reminded them and all of us that these are not the only components of the vocation of a Catholic Christian. A Catholic Christian is also called to be a witness to truth and justice within a tradition that emphasizes the rights and dignity of each individual and each community, and the communal nature of worship, as exemplified in the sharing of the consecrated bread and wine given to the group in a particular place. This worship is ratified by the common priesthood of the People of God and consultation with the members of this sacred group is required for any termination or transfer of the locus of worship.

Your archdiocese has suffered some of the most systematically cynical and uncaring sexual exploitation of children in the United States. Now the successors of the administration that enabled pedophiles and ephebophiles want to continue that cynicism, moving you around like pawns so that your most expensive real estate can be sold off to compensate for the fiscal mismanagement that has not funded its pension plans and the spiritual and moral mismanagement that has driven Catholics to withhold one-half of their financial support and, often, to withhold their physical presence. You have drawn a line in the sand and said "enough abuse! Be honest with us. Treat us as the adults we are. It is we who have been supporting you and we refuse to be manipulated or lied to any more. Spin doctors have no place in our church."

Dear friends, you who are continuing in the tradition of those who had the courage to stand before an unjust British administration in the 18th century, we hope you will be able to continue with the courage and fortitude you have shown until now. This is a Catholic rights struggle, every bit as important as the women's rights and civil rights movements of past years. It's difficult to struggle on but it's vitally important. You have struck a huge blow for the rights of American Catholics. Thousands of us watch and admire you, and pray for you daily.

The archdiocese cannot break your will or your resolve unless you allow it. Hour by hour, day by day, you are forcing the archdiocese to rethink and, hopefully, to reverse its policies. And you are inspiring untold numbers of Catholics to stand up for their own rights. You have taught us all that it can be done and we honor and thank you.


Christine M. Roussel
New York City

Posted 15 December 2004

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