Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – Remember the day after the attack when all the first responders that were there were being praised and lauded and people were wondering where the FBI was, where are all the G-Men to get in here? I wondered out loud: Where are all the G-Men? Where are all the priests? Why weren’t there priests? Why wasn’t there clergy at that scene? It’s usually the clergy with the first responders. I have an answer to that now. Check out today’s transcript for the rest…
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: By the way, Andrew, a friend of mine sent me this post from April 26 at CatholicCulture.org. Remember the day after the attack when all the first responders that were there were being praised and lauded and people were wondering where the FBI was, where are all the G-Men to get in here? I wondered out loud: Where are all the G-Men? Where are all the priests? Why weren’t there priests? Why wasn’t there clergy at that scene? It’s usually the clergy with the first responders. I have an answer to that now. I can tell you. This is Phil Lawler writing at CatholicCulture.org:
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Jennifer Graham tells me something that I hadn’t heard about Boston Marathon bombing. As dozens of victims were sprawled across Boylston Street, many of them in danger of death, Catholic priests came running to the scene—and were turned away.
Doctors and nurses were welcome at the bombing scene. Firefighters and police officers were welcome. But Catholic priests, who might have offered the solace of the sacraments, were not.
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”Catholics need not apply.” That slogan was familiar in Boston years ago, before Irish and Italian immigrants took over control of the city. Now, after decades of decline in Catholic influence, the attitude has returned. One priest who was barred from Boylston Street remarked that in the past a priest was admitted anywhere. “That’s changed,” he said. “Priests are no longer considered to be emergency responders.”
Unless police officers in Boston are uniquely hostile to priests (a distinct possibility), the tide has turned very quickly on this question. On September 11, 2001, there were Catholic priests at the staging areas near the World Trade Center, giving absolution to firefighters before they rushed into the doomed building: mass-producing saints!
Unable to provide spiritual help to those whose lives were endangered, the priests in Boston retreated to a nearby church, where they “set up a table with water and oranges and bananas to serve people.” Doesn’t that nicely capture what a once-Catholic, now-secular culture expects from the Church? It’s not essential for priests to administer the sacraments; in fact it’s unwelcome. But if they could just stay out of the way, and give people something to eat, that would be fine.
Jennifer Graham captures the problem well: “But it is a poignant irony that Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who died on Boylston Street, was a Catholic who had received his first Communion just last year. As Martin lay dying, priests were only yards away, beyond the police tape, unable to reach him to administer last rites…”
Mike: So there’s the answer to the question. Our buddy Marty the cop just sent me something. I think I read this once before and I had forgotten this. Bear in mind, or let’s go back just a couple moments and recall that I was asking about why there were no priests at the site of the Boston Marathon bombing. You couldn’t find a priest. The Catholic little boy, little Richard, the eight-year-old who was killed was a Catholic and couldn’t get his last rites because no priests were allowed in. We know now that they were turned away at the scene. Here, recall that on September the 11th, 2001, Priest Mychal Judge, a Roman Catholic priest, was the first casualty certified as a fatality from the World Trade Center bombing.
Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Judge rushed to the site. [Mike: He was the chaplain of the NYFD, by the by.] He was met by the Mayor of New York, Rudolph Giuliani, who asked him to pray for the city and its victims. Judge administered the Last Rites to some lying on the streets, then entered the lobby of the World Trade Center North Tower, where an emergency command post was organized. There he continued offering aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead.
When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge. At the moment he was struck in the head and killed, Judge was repeatedly praying aloud, “Jesus, please end this right now! God, please end this!”, according to Judge’s biographer and New York Daily News columnist Michael Daly.
Mike: Marty, thanks for sending that.
End Mike Church Show Transcript