Archbishop of New Orleans appeals for peace in church closure controversy
Archbishop of New Orleans Alfred Hughes
Archbishop of New Orleans Alfred Hughes

.- Following the expulsion and arrest of some protesters who were occupying churches declared to be closed, the Archbishop of New Orleans Alfred Hughes has issued a message urging peace and reconciliation in the controversy.

Several Catholic parishioners in the Archdiocese of New Orleans had occupied the two former churches, 152-year old St. Henry Church and the nearby Our Lady of Good Counsel Church, to protest their closure.

On Jan. 6, at the request of the archdiocese, the protesters were removed by police. Two were arrested.

Archbishop Hughes on Wednesday published a message on the church closure controversy.

He began by referencing "seemingly contradictory scriptural passages," one from John 14 in which Jesus promises peace to his followers and one from Luke 12 where Jesus says he brings not peace but division.

These passages "actually point to a deeper truth," the archbishop wrote. "God promises inner peace to those who fulfill his will even when there is opposition or resistance. Christ witnessed to this in the hostility to him connected with his passion. Discernment of God’s will entails the willingness to sacrifice personal preference. Doing God’s will sometimes involves misunderstanding and criticism.

"No one wants to experience what we have experienced as church during the last two weeks in which decisions needed to be enforced despite the desires of some people within the church," he continued.

Archbishop Hughes explained that following the Hurricane Katrina disaster, the archdiocese has diminished resources in terms of priests and finances to support ministry throughout the diocese.

During the planning for cutbacks, he said, "we urged that the process be an exercise in the discernment of God’s will for us. Personal preference was to yield to the good of the whole."

He said the archdiocese had engaged in a "very thorough" consultation process which lea to the "difficult" final decisions made "with the desire to find God’s will for us and the intention to foster the development of more vibrant and evangelizing parishes."

The archdiocese especially wanted to ensure that the Eucharist would be celebrated in each of our open churches.

Archbishop Hughes said he decided it was necessary to end the protesters’ vigils because of "increased risks" to both the protesters and the archdiocese. According to the archbishop, though archdiocesan representatives "made every effort" to persuade the protesters to leave, "eventually it was necessary to engage law enforcement."

"Two individuals insisted upon allowing themselves to be arrested."

"It is now my hope that we can move toward a constructive series of steps that will promote reconciliation and integration of the newly merged parish of Good Shepherd," the archbishop’s message concluded, praying that God will grant his peace to the archdiocese.

The protesting parishioners say they will continue their prayer vigils outside the churches.

Our Lady of Good Counsel parishioner Cheron Brylski said the parishioners plan to pray a Rosary at the closed church every Sunday.

"But obviously our goals remain to get to the table and have a dialogue with the archbishop, and we're still hopeful that the archbishop will change his heart and meet with us," she said, according to WDSU News.

"We agree with the archbishop's plan to have a new parish created," Brylski continued. "All we're asking for is one Mass a week here with our parishioners."

Parishioner Harold Baquet was more resolute in his opposition. One of the occupants of Our Lady of Good Counsel, he had climbed out onto the roof of the church to try to avoid detection after police forcibly entered the building to remove the protesters.

"This is just the beginning, sister, and I promise you this community will maintain its cohesiveness, its organizational capabilities, its communication capabilities and its fundraising capabilities and this pastoral plan is a trip in the desert," he said, according to WDSU. "It has led us nowhere. It's dividing the body of Christ."

Parishioners from both closed churches have reportedly filed civil suits.

A representative from the archdiocese reportedly said the archbishop’s decision is final.

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages


Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Daily Readings

First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »


Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15


Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
Text only

Follow us: