BPD meets with cardinal, Boston priests on curbing gun violence

Law enforcement officials and Boston priests meet at Catholic Charities Teen Center at St. Peter's in Dorchester Feb. 28 to discuss collaboration to reduce gun violence in the city. Courtesy photo

ROXBURY -- Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley and priests from throughout the neighborhoods of Boston met with top Boston Police Department leadership, Feb. 28, to discuss ways to collaborate against gun violence in the city.

The clergy and law enforcement officials met at a closed-to-press meeting at the Teen Center at St. Peter's in Dorchester.

Speaking to The Pilot following the meeting, Boston Police Commissioner William Evans said the police department asked the priests of the Archdiocese of Boston to support them in getting the message out that the flow of guns and violence into city streets must end.

"We asked for the archdiocese, the priests in the city, to help us in our message to stop the violence and to help us get guns off the street. It was great that Cardinal O'Malley came out and all the priests were there. This is a team effort. The police can't do it alone," Evans said.

He said he believes that the archdiocese can play a major role in reducing violence in the city by reaching out to young people and families. He said the archdiocese and its priests made a key difference in his life growing up.

"I'm hoping they can do the outreach to the community, like they did to me growing up," Commissioner Evans said.

Cardinal O'Malley said the Church, with resources like the Teen Center in Dorchester and Catholic Charities, stands ready to contribute to a resolution of gun violence issues in Boston.

"We are hoping to work together with the commissioner and the people on the police force to look for ways of helping to get these guns off the street and make the communities safer," Cardinal O'Malley said.

The cardinal and the commissioner had attended the wake of Jan Marcos Pena, a 9-year-old boy shot accidentally by his brother with an illegal gun, in Mattapan earlier in February.

Clergy, religious, and law enforcement officers -- including the police commissioner -- leaving the meeting said the discussion that took place inside the Fish Family Gymnasium at the teen center pointed a way forward to address the issue concretely.

Dorchester priest Father Jack Ahern, known for his work in the neighborhoods alongside Father Richard C. "Doc" Conway, called gun violence a pro-life issue.

"I think the death of Jan Marco Pena affected all of us. I mean, we see gun violence across the board, but the fact that a 9-year-old was shot and killed accidentally by his brother told all of us that we have to do something," he said.

Father Ahern said the meeting, went beyond just connecting law enforcement officials with clergy only from neighborhoods that regularly experience violence. He said those in attendance included Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley, Dan Mulhern, one of Mayor Martin J. Walsh's frontline staff members on the issue, and over 40 priests from parishes throughout the neighborhoods of Boston.

"They basically said, 'You know, we need your help,' that the only way we are going to address the issue of gun violence is if we are one community -- the Church being a very central part of that community," Father Ahern said.

Father Ahern described the message the police commissioner delivered to the Boston priests -- a personal message rooted in the experience of Commissioner Evans as a young man who attended Gate of Heaven School in South Boston.

"The commissioner told us about his own experience -- about how important the Catholic Church was in his life, and that he could have gone the wrong direction, but the Church provided all the supports he needed, including an education. It made all the difference. So, he asked all the priests gathered that, if they see a kid going the wrong direction, to take them under their wing and offer them some of the services he needs," Father Ahern said.

Father Ahern said the commissioner asked the priests to publicize the gun buyback program that will begin at the end of March. St. Peter's Church in Dorchester will serve as a location for the buyback program.

He said the meeting also included about half an hour of discussion between clergy and law enforcement.

"It was a good give-and-take, saying that the Catholic Church is in every neighborhood. The priests are very involved, very present, and we need them to step up to the plate in a more significant way," Father Ahern said.

He said outreach before the meeting by the archdiocese brought priests in from neighborhoods that might not necessarily experience violence, but priests there can still make a difference.

Father Ahern said the cardinal outlined some of the work he did in his previous ministries involving gun violence, especially with regard to his work as a priest in Washington D.C.

He said the cardinal described his work in the inner-city there, coping with violence, taking an active role in gun buyback programs, and providing support to families impacted by gun violence.

"He was asking his own priests to do some of the same. It was the cardinal who gathered us. The priests responded very well. The police acknowledged all that the parishes are doing, but asked for a little bit more involvement on the issue of violence," Father Ahern said.

BPD Superintendent-in-Chief William G. Gross said Father "Doc" Conway, Father Ahern, Father Sean Connor, and Father John Connolly played key parts in organizing the meeting.

"They wanted to do their part to ensure that the archdiocese could come in and help the communities that needed it most, especially with the problems that have been plaguing the communities for years, and that is the senseless gun violence and all that that entails -- especially the death of many of our youths," he said.

The police chief said adding the voice and support of Catholic clergy, in solidarity as an archdiocese with the cardinal, to the presence of other churches that also work to address the issue of gun violence sends a clear message.

"I think that sends a clear-cut message to everyone -- including the predators that prey on our children and take advantage of them through gun violence, or getting them incorporated into that, or into gangs -- that this is a united front, a unified front, that's not going to tolerate that and that we're here to work together, all of us, all denominations, no matter where you hailed from, in what part of the city. We're here to work together," Gross said.

He said the mere presence of the cardinal on behalf of the archdiocese sent a message of solidarity.

"That's a huge message. That's a message that needs to be sent, that it is a united front," he said.

Cardinal beatifies 22-year-old Romanian as 'martyr to chastity'

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- A 22-year-old Romanian peasant has taken a step closer to sainthood as a "martyr to chastity," six decades after she was murdered ...

Maryland attorney general will review church records on child sex abuse

BALTIMORE (CNS) -- In a Sept. 24 letter to the clergy of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Archbishop William E. Lori informed priests and deacons that the ...

People helping people is what attracted actor to 'God Friended Me'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Television audiences may recall seeing actor Joe Morton as Eli Rowan Pope, the father of professional Washington fixer Olivia Pope, ...

Pa. bishops support creating fund to compensate survivors of sex abuse

PHILADELPHIA (CNS) -- The bishops of Pennsylvania's eight Roman Catholic dioceses are supporting creation of an independent fund to compensate survivors ...

CRS sells fair trade coffee, supporting Mexican farmers and land

Baltimore, Md., Sep 24, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Catholic Relief Services is now offering fair trade coffee beans that will benefit local farming communities ...

The Jesuit who survived the KGB

Vilnius, Lithuania, Sep 24, 2018 CNA.- When Pope Francis visited a former KGB building in Vilnius, Lithuania Sept. 23, Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius ...

Next step toward artificial reproduction violates human fundamentals, ethicist warns

Washington D.C., Sep 25, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Artificial human reproduction appears to be on the horizon with Japanese scientists’ claim to ...

Update: Scandals create outrage, but there is time for conversion, pope says

TALLINN, Estonia (CNS) -- In what is probably the least religious country in Europe, Pope Francis said he is surprised by how many people hold firm to ...

Catholic leaders oppose administration's plan to limit green cards

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- Catholic leaders are speaking out against a Trump administration proposed rule announced Sept. 22 that would deny green cards to legal ...

Head of Georgetown Prep urges renewed commitment to being 'men for others'

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- In a letter to the school community, the president of an all-boys Jesuit high school in suburban Washington emphasized the schools' ...

Today is 'hour of the laity,' Archbishop Gomez tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Hispanic Catholic leaders are living an important moment in the history of the Catholic church in the U.S. and are called to ...

Stay close to the suffering, forgive one another, pope tells Latvians

AGLONA, Latvia (CNS) -- What would Mary do? was the question Pope Francis, in effect, asked Latvian Catholics gathered at their nation's popular Marian ...

Joy, hope contagious for Encuentro participants as they discern priorities

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Joy, hope, energy and a spirit of continued collaboration are contagious among the participants of the Fifth National Encuentro, ...

Update: Pope in Lithuania: Don't let anti-Semitism, hatred resurge

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Outside the former KGB headquarters in Vilnius, Pope Francis ended a day of paying homage to victims of totalitarianism and ...

God is patient, even with failures, pope tells young Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- Meeting young Lithuanians in Vilnius, Pope Francis said he wanted a relaxed conversation, like they were sitting in a pub ...

Update: Vatican signs provisional agreement with China on naming bishops

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- For the first time in decades, all of the Catholic bishops in China are in full communion with the pope, the Vatican announced. Pope ...

Find strength in tolerance, solidarity, pope tells Lithuanians

VILNIUS, Lithuania (CNS) -- In Lithuania, a nation that experienced invasions, atrocities and persecution, Pope Francis began his visit with a plea to ...

Ospino: Encuentro reflects 'energy, maturity' of a church 'here to stay'

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- The thousands of Hispanic Catholic ministry leaders gathered in Texas for the Fifth National Encuentro shared views on the maturity ...

N.J. cardinal won't attend synod, asks to remain home at 'time of crisis'

NEWARK, N.J. (CNS) -- Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark told the people of his archdiocese Sept. 21 that Pope Francis has granted his request that he ...

Detroit Archdiocese welcomes investigation into Michigan dioceses

DETROIT (CNS) -- Michigan's attorney general has opened an investigation into the handling of sexual abuse by clergy in all of Michigan's seven Catholic ...

Catholics believe in God but 'don't believe in us,' Miami archbishop says

MIAMI (CNS) -- The crisis the Catholic Church is facing is not "a crisis of faith" or "mainly about a crisis of sexual abuse by clergy," but is "a crisis ...

Update: Disney animator says grounding in Catholic schools led to success

SIOUX CITY, Iowa (CNS) -- Ron Clements is a renowned animator, screenwriter and producer-director of award-winning Disney films, including the blockbuster ...

#WhyImCatholic movement aims to share hope at difficult time for church

CHICAGO (CNS) -- Catholic Extension has launched a new social media campaign called #WhyImCatholic to offer "hope and unity" for Catholics by inviting ...

Continue to be an evangelizing church, nuncio tells Encuentro delegates

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- Quoting from Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation "The Joy of the Gospel," Archbishop Christophe Pierre encouraged Hispanic Catholic ...

Encuentro opens with procession, papal message, prayers for abuse victims

GRAPEVINE, Texas (CNS) -- A video message from Pope Francis and a procession of Encuentro crosses representing all of the participating episcopal regions ...

Retired Green Bay auxiliary bishop failed to report abuse, withdraws from ministry

Green Bay, Wis., Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- Bishop Robert Morneau, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Green Bay, has withdrawn from public ministry saying ...

Dolan 'impatient' waiting for apostolic visitation in response to McCarrick

New York City, N.Y., Sep 20, 2018 CNA.- The Archbishop of New York said Thursday that while he has confidence in the way Pope Francis is handling the ...

Two more Chilean bishops step down in wake of abuse crisis

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis accepted the resignations of two more Chilean bishops, bringing to seven the number of bishops who have stepped down ...

Celebration of the Priesthood dinner raises over $1.8 million

BOSTON -- A record 1,700 people attended the 10th annual Celebration of the Priesthood dinner to raise funds for the Clergy Health and Retirement Trust ...

Lawrence parish helps community cope with gas explosion aftermath

LAWRENCE -- Volunteers at St. Patrick Church's Cor Unum Meal Center were serving dinner when multiple natural gas explosions and fires broke out in homes ...

Ceremony, Mass kick off St. Augustine Chapel bicentennial

SOUTH BOSTON -- St. Augustine Chapel and Cemetery began its year-long bicentennial celebration on the weekend of Sept. 14-16 with tours, special Masses, ...

Mass. Knights install new officers

The Massachusetts State Council Knights of Columbus recently held its Installation of State Officers at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Canton with ...

Deal will keep Sancta Maria Nursing Facility open

CAMBRIDGE -- Sancta Maria Nursing Facility announced Sept. 17 that it has negotiated a comprehensive operational contract with Advocate Healthcare Management ...

From Cardinal Seán's blog

As I mentioned in my preface to last week's blog, this week and last, I have been in Rome for meetings related to the work of the Pontifical Commission ...

N.Y. Archdiocese names judge as independent reviewer on abuse protocols

NEW YORK (CNS) -- New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has named a former federal judge to study archdiocesan policies and procedures with respect to sexual ...

U.S. reports poverty declines, but agencies finding needs remain great

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The good news from the U.S. Census Bureau Sept. 12 was that the poverty rate dropped for the third straight year in 2017 and median ...

Class-action lawsuit filed against eight Pennsylvania dioceses

PITTSBURGH (CNS) -- A class-action lawsuit was filed Sept. 17 against eight Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania demanding the dioceses provide proof that ...

Apostolic visitor outlines plans for expansion at Medjugorje shrine

WARSAW, Poland (CNS) -- The Polish archbishop tasked with overseeing Bosnia-Herzegovina's Medjugorje shrine has outlined plans for expansion, including ...

Pope names administrator as Indian bishop investigated for alleged rape

MUMBAI, India (CNS) -- Pope Francis has accepted the request of an Indian bishop accused of raping a nun to be relieved of his duties during the investigation. In ...

In letters to German cardinal, retired pope defends way he stepped down

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Retired Pope Benedict XVI expressed his displeasure with the way a German cardinal publicly criticized his stepping down as pontiff, ...

Thousands of Hispanics expected in Texas for Encuentro summit

Fort Worth, Texas, Sep 20, 2018 CNA/EWTN News.- As many as 3,000 Catholics of Hispanic background are expected in Texas this week for the National V Encuentro, ...