|Cambridge City Hall|
Cambridge, Massachusetts Arguably the bluest spot in the bluest state in the union, Cambridge, MA, is creating community based committees to monitor Catholic churches. The city council voted 8-1 in favor of what is being heralded as Our Children, Our Community city ordinance. The ordinance utilizes a neighborhood watch model where the city is divided into zones. Each zone has one Catholic church in it. The goal of these committees is to prevent priestly indiscretions with children and guarantee that if any do occur, then the police and proper social service agencies are immediately notified.
"The latest incident with Roberto Nieves, the Archbishop of Puerto Rico, really brought Our Children, Our Communities to a vote," stated Councilman Anthony Drew. "The Archbishop has some serious charges against him. Considering the history of the Church protecting predators, we thought it was prudent that an inter-path group monitor our local churches."
These neighborhood watches will attend church services, talk to parishioners, and review documents such as emails and personnel files.
Of course, not everyone is pleased. Local priest, Father Manuel Ortiz, decries the ordinance as an assault on the religious rights of Catholics. "The Church has always been under attack in this demographically Catholic majority city. MIT and Harvard University have a deleterious effect on the faith of the everyday people who depend on the Mother Church for guidance and solace. Remember: Priests don't rape children. Pedophiles who happen to be priests rape children."
In response the Cambridge City Council has reiterated that Our Children, Our Communities does not prevent any Catholic from going to church or engaging in any legal faith-based activity. What it does do is "...establishes that the Catholic Church in the City of Cambridge meets basic community standards of behavior."
*Yes, this is a Poe.
(Though it's not a bad idea to have community based group oversee a suspect organization like the Catholic Church.)