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Beast of the Epiphany January 7, 2009

Posted by The Typist in New Orleans, NOLA, Toulouse Street, We Are Not OK.
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On Tuesday, Jan. 6 (the Catholic Church’s Feast of the Epiphany and for Orleanian’s the start of the Carnival season), elements of the N.O.P.D. in plain street clothes battered down a 100 year old door and entered Our Lady of Good Counsel Catholic Church arresting parishioners holding a vigil against the church’s closing.

According to the Archdiocese, the closures were necessary due to financial constraints and shortages of priests for the pulpit. But Good Counsel parishioners report they had 350 families on the parish’s books, and had met every performance goal to remain an open church, including financial, and the Archdiocese has broken ever promise made during the process to the parishioners.

I left the church spiritually and physically years ago, but I have kept the bargain’s I made when I married my wife in the church, and seen my children through baptism, their religious education, communion and confirmation. Now, they are on their own, and they can read in my eyes what I think of this Church when these items come on the news. I keep my bargains. The Church does not.

Ultimately this is not about the Church, it is about a church in a neighborhood. Our experience in New Orleans is clear: where churches returned after the Federal Flood, neighborhoods followed. Where the Archdiocese decided to close a church (sometimes to its immense financial profit, as in the case of St. Francis Cabrini), the neighborhood struggled to return.

Not just the uglier voices on the NOLA.Com forums but even some members of the NOLA bloggers mailing list decried the efforts of the parishioners to occupy the churches in spite of unclear title or in open opposition to lawful authority. Someone suggested that those who supported the protesters supported “mob rule” over the rule of law.

Sometimes the rule of law and the established order is so rotten and corrupt to the core that there is no resource but to the mob, or so the founding fathers of this country thought. Archbishop Hughes is of a piece with Nagin, Riley and the rest of our thoroughly corrupt and dysfunctional leaders. Hughes sent a known pedophile back into a parish during his years in Boston, tried to close the oldest predominately Black parish in North America, who appears to be plundering parishes with cash or valuable land to prop up the church post-Flood, with no regard for the people he is anointed to serve.

I see in him corruption like in some Hollywood film–Emperor Palatine, or some zombie creature in a withered, worm eaten body dressed in the robes of it’s office in life. I begin to understand Thomas Jefferson’s defense of the French Revolution and the guillotine. What the hell else do you do with people like this? I’m open to reasonable alternative suggestions.

For now I think it the duty of everyone who loves New Orleans to do what they can to support the protesters and oppose the Archdiocese. As I said, this is not a church issue. This is not a property issue. This is part and parcel of the question we face in every institution and setting in this city: will we allow the corrupt and incompetent to destroy this city around us eve as we try to rebuild it?


The clip below leaves out an interesting line at the end (at least of the vinyl recording) when Jesus yells to the lepers: Can’t you heal yourselves?