Cardinal hosts meeting for local lawmakers on Beacon Hill

BOSTON -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and staff of the archdiocese reached out to inform Beacon Hill about some of the ministries and works of the Church in Boston, Oct. 17, at the Union Club on Park Street in an informal meeting with lawmakers from cities and towns within the Archdiocese of Boston.

At the meeting, which was closed to the press, around 60 lawmakers heard also from Deborah Kincade Rambo, president of Catholic Charities of Boston, and Mary E. Moran, temporary administrator for the Catholic Schools Office.

"It is my hope that today's dialogue will strengthen the Church's collaborative relationship with the citizens of the Commonwealth," Cardinal O'Malley said in a statement afterward.

The statement said the cardinal held the meeting to showcase ministries of the Church that impacts legislators and their constituents from communities in the archdiocese.

Without giving details about the format of the meeting, the statement said the Catholic Schools and Catholic Charities representatives discussed programs and services in these areas, which the cardinal called "essential ministries of the Church."

"The archdiocese has a broad presence in 144 cities and towns through 288 parishes and seeks to contribute to the well-being of those communities," the cardinal said.

Moran gave the lawmakers some perspective on the 119 Catholic schools, which educate over 40,000 students, in the archdiocese, while Rambo outlined some of the work done by Catholic Charities, which served 200,000 people in need, regardless of faith in the past year.

"This was an opportunity for relationship building, not an endeavor to discuss or push legislation," said a statement from archdiocese spokesman Terrence C. Donilon.

Outside the meeting, a small number of protesters gathered. Some rallied in favor of easing statute of limitations restrictions on claims of clergy sex abuse, but lawmakers exiting the meeting said the issue never came up.

Legislators leaving the event confirmed the informal nature of the gathering.

Senator William N. Brownsberger, who represents parts of Boston as well as Belmont and Watertown, said the program focused on the good work of the Church.

"It's not like the white smoke or anything. There was no big secret," he said.

He said no controversial topics came up at the meeting.

"It was very plain and simple meeting, just letting people know what the Church does for the people of the community," Brownsberger said.