Monday, August 08, 2005

Ecclesiastical Tsunami: How Massachusetts Did Away with the First Amendment

The president of the of Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston told the Boston Globe today that local blowback from parish closings and the Scandal was, ''...an ecclesiastical tsunami -- two things that are totally different things, but both creating something greater than either one."

According to the Boston Globe, state and local officials in Massachusetts, forgetting the First Amendment, have introduced several pieces of legislation to grant the state more oversight of the Church.

The newspaper reports that the Archdiocese of Boston is being pressed by lawmakers to make its finances public.

State senator Marian Walsh told the Boston Globe she was inspired by the "strong anger" of lay Catholics to initiate this measure.

"She said as perhaps the largest charity in the state, the Catholic Church should be subject to the same disclosure requirements as other nonprofits."

Except that the Church is a church not a charity, and therefore not subjected to state regulation.

Here's more from the Boston Globe:

Secretary of State William F. Galvin filed a civil complaint against the church, accusing the archdiocese of siphoning money from a cemetery-care fund and neglecting the upkeep of the graveyards; Mayor Thomas M. Menino called the archdiocese's lockout of children from the Our Lady of Presentation school ''reprehensible" and ''unconscionable"; the Boston City Council introduced -- but later shelved -- a nonbinding referendum for the city election ballot that read, in part, ''Do you agree that, to date, the Archdiocese of Boston has failed to work effectively with Boston's neighborhoods to mitigate the impacts of Catholic parish and school closings?"

Are Catholics going to let the Scandal open the window for state control of the Church? In Massachusetts, it appears that not only is the answer to this a resounding YES, but that lay Catholics themselves are leading the charge to do away with the First Amendment.