Friday, August 31, 2007

Pray for Carmen Gonzalez, parishioner of Our Lady Queen of Angels

Today the New York Times covered the funeral of Carmen Gonzalez, held outdoors in front of the now closed Our Lady Queen of Angels, in East Harlem. Sewell Chan's piece, Outdoor Funeral for a Protester of a Church Closing, presents an accurate and concise recap of Our Lady Queen of Angels' plight as well as reportage of the current event. The print version of the "Times" features a picture of the deceased's casket in front of the church surrounded by her friends, family and fellow activists.

The article also features the inevitable comments of archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling, who is quoted as saying, “We encouraged the family to approach one of these other parishes in order that Mrs. Gonzalez could have a proper and fitting Mass of Christian Burial. Even though this building is closed, the Church — in the Archdiocese of New York — is open to them. It is too bad that they decided to make this an occasion to protest rather than an occasion to pray for the soul of the deceased.”

Reciprocally, the Archdiocese could have made this an occasion to offer condolences to family, friends and fellow parishioners and to express empathy for their bereavement: Bereavement at the loss of Carmen Gonzalez and at the loss of their parish. Zwilling implies that protest and prayer are dichotomous. Does the fact that this service was not a Mass of Christian Burial mean that those present did not pray for the deceased? He states, "Even though this building is closed, the Church — in the Archdiocese of New York — is open to them." Does the tone and content of his message open a door that these people would really feel welcome to enter?

I am offering prayers for Mrs. Gonzalez and her family and friends. I am offering prayers to all who are praying and acting to preserve the communities of faith that were disrupted by the closure of parishes. I am offering prayers for Archdiocese and for the whole Church.

Please pray with me and ask Mrs. Gonzalez for her help now as she helped in life.

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