When the Church lacks faith! The Publisher chimes in!
Last Sunday’s last Mass at St. John the Baptist can only be summarized as a perfect example of a lack of faith.
It was not a lack of faith on the part of the parishioners who were baptized, and received their sacraments at the Portuguese community’s oldest parish in America. They cried amongst themselves Sunday as their shared history of singing, praying and praising together in unison, has ended.
No, the lack of faith was from the Chief of Police, the Diocese of Fall River and even the Mayor of New Bedford for allowing undercover officers to sit among the truly faithful as they held the final Mass.
It is summed up in one Portuguese word: Vergonha!
The chief says he was doing his job protecting the people of the city and he offers no apologies. That’s fine Chief. You have a duty to your post, but you can not hide your lack of understanding of the Portuguese community’s most faithful and devoted followers. And as the chief of the newspaper charged with protecting the people from government and other institutions here, I will not apologize either for calling you out for your lack of understanding of what it means to be a Catholic Portuguese –American – and the little faith you showed in the brothers and sisters of Christ. You would think to be truly effective one would understand the community one serves! Or at least pretend to!
We know that you spend your time around criminals and the worst of society, and have a difficult if not at times impossible job, but how far from humanity have you drifted to now assume that this faithful family would desecrate themselves? Come on Chief! Get real! People should be presumed innocent until they give you a reason to believe otherwise.
Were you afraid of a sit in, an “Occupy St. John the Baptist” movement?
Did your men have tear gas and pepper spray ready to go?
Did you think vovo was going to climb up on the cross and drag it out.?
Were you expecting violence?
Sometimes, the people who deal with the worst elements of society are the most unable to understand when those fears doom them to seeing everything like a criminal does! Would it kill you to admit you may have been wrong?
And while the police department’s overzealous act is an insult, the most painful realization that I have been informed of this week was from the regular Portuguese Catholics who attend Masses in churches throughout the region; They ask “where was the faith of the Diocese in these people?”
Imagine an institution that asks people to remain faithful yet shows no faith in them? Imagine a community that stuck with the church through the Father Porter child abuse situation, stuck through the church even though its young were at one time, victims of acts that are still difficult to discuss.
It is hard to intellectually accept that a church that has not lost money in four years, a Portuguese community that has hundreds of millionaires, that cares what happens at St. John the Baptist Church, is not allowed to rise to the occasion and raise the needed money.
All they need is a sign from God, or in this case the Diocese, that they can hold collections at other Portuguese churches for St. John’s: that they can continue the fight, that their prayers can be answered!
Instead, what the parishioners of that church, and now, other Portuguese churches have learned is that the Diocese has no faith in them. Santo Christo Parish on Columbia Street in Fall River are you next?
How long will the people continue to have faith in the Diocese, is now the question that many must answer?
Make no mistake about it, the closing of the church is a painful thing for the community to endure but the lack of faith by the Diocese in them, the undercover cops and the inability of officials to understand the offense they have committed, does not translate into Portuguese as anything but shame.