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Advice for the archbishop

By Joseph Galeota, 1/25/1984

ith the announcement that Bernard Francis Law will become archbishop of Boston, the press will probably be speculating about the style of the new archbishop -- will he lean to the extroverted approach of Richard Cushing or the reserved manner of Humberto Medeiros?

Although we back-pew Catholics are curious about "personality," we're more interested in his exuding a deep commitment to our community -- a sense of commitment both Cardinals Cushing and Medeiros manifested.

But because it takes years for us Boston Catholics to judge whether their Church leaders are genuinely committed, here are some suggestions that the new prelate might consider for quickly proving his concern for his two-million- member flock.

  • Ride the MBTA's Orange Line occasionally to the Cathedral. More Irish widows are probably assaulted here than in Belfast; maybe your presence could deter some criminal from his daily rounds.

  • Walk to a Brighton supermarket to check the prices. This is why teachers in Catholic elementary schools -- as well as the rest of us -- are having trouble contributing to second collections.

  • Editorialize about the ethics of state legislators, most of whom are baptized in our religion. Being Catholic on Beacon Hill is not a way of life; it's a way of getting votes from constituents.

  • Visit a West Roxbury liquor store on a Friday or Saturday evening. Local 20-year-olds are purchasing their suppliesm for a drunken night.

  • Query the high-tech companies about their locating in Acton and Maynard. Most of them are setting up shop beyond commuting distances for the disadvantaged.

  • Evaluate the monolithic procedures which inhibit parish change, annulment procedures, etc. In these instances the Rock of Peter should be vibrant, not rigid.

  • Examine the logic that enables the Dovers and Wellesleys to put a stranglehold on less affluent communities, such as Boston, Somerville and Chelsea. It's the Massachusetts version of El Salvador: the rich against the have-not members of the church.

  • Conduct a liturgical service with altar girls assisting you. Who says boys make the best altar boys?

  • Hold beach parties in Manchester and Scituate for black and Hispanic youngsters. Racism is not confined by urban boundaries.

  • Escort groups of urban white kids to those same beaches. Rationalizing away any sense of justice, Catholics in beach communities deny access to non- residents.

  • Offer the Sacrifice of the Mass outside the foyer of a military- industrial company developing the wherewithal to annihilate thousands of Russian civilians. The idea of "sacrifice" would then take on a much broader meaning.

  • Picket an abortion clinic. Hearing so much about this type of genocide, many of us would like to see you risk arrest on this issue like the Berrigans do on the issue of nuclear war.

  • De-emphasize the pomp of your office by minimizing the use of the regal red, the mitre, and the staff. Your home on Lake Street is roomier than most any place in Savin Hill or Nazareth.

  • Bring us to our knees in prayer -- daily. There are too many of us who view Catholicism as a Sunday morning affair (or Saturday night, if the Mass is more convenient).

    Joseph Galeota lives in West Roxbury and is a technical writer for Raytheon Service Co.

    This story ran in the Boston Globe on 1/25/1984.
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