Friday, July 14, 2006

You Can Lead Italians to Peace....

...but you sure as hell can't make them embrace it.

Many of you know this. Too well.

Continuing the grand tradition of infighting among the paesans, members of a Rhode Island parish have gone to war, this time over parish summer carnivals.

In the interest of full disclosure, my onomastico is involved.
[W]hen the Rev. Charles Zanoni, pastor of St. Rocco Church in Johnston, recently announced that his parish would let its financially strapped neighbor, St. Bartholomew parish in Providence's Silver Lake, use its grounds for a four-day festival in late August, he and the the pastor of St. Bartholomew hailed the move as another sign of the love between the two parishes....

Now all those plans are off, in large part because of a vigorous letter and phone campaign by Johnston residents opposed to St. Bart's holding a festival at their church, and a warning from Johnston Police Chief Richard Tamburini that his department might have to start ticketing cars.

Tamburini explained yesterday that soon after the two-festival plan was unveiled, he was inundated with angry and anonymous calls from people who talked about the inconvenience from parked cars clogging their streets and rowdy youths who made them fearful of leaving their homes.

"They said they were willing to endure it each year because it was for their parish, but they didn't think they should have to endure it for a parish that wasn't even theirs," Tamburini said.

In an interview yesterday, Father Almonte said he thinks the opposition from anonymous letter writers and callers went deeper than anger over traffic.

Reading between the lines, he said, he thinks it comes from St. Rocco's being a relatively well-off parish while St. Bartholomew's is relatively poor. While Hispanics represent more than a third of the 750 people attending weekly Mass at St. Bartholomew, the number of Hispanics at St. Rocco is still relatively tiny, he said, about 50 to 60 people of the 1,400 at Sunday Mass.

Writing in his church bulletin last Sunday, Father Almonte vented his feelings:

"How sad that baptized Catholics should wage such a verbal 'war' against a neighboring parish community."

Has this man ever seen a Catholic blog?

The priest said opponents to the planned festival had even resorted to sending anonymous letters to members of the St. Rocco's finance council to complain about the job performance of two of his relatives -- a brother, who works at St. Rocco's School as a maintenance man, and a sister, who is the parish and school accountant -- in an effort to have the two dismissed.

"What a sad and disturbing indictment for Johnston," he wrote. "After 2,000 years of ministry and faith we are still putting Our Lord on the cross with nails of prejudice and hate. After an over 100 year history of sacramental ministry, we still close our hearts to our brothers and sisters of other cultures and other parishes."

Father Zanoni says he was surprised by the opposition to the festival. Since calls were anonymous, he said, he has no way of knowing whether they involved St. Rocco parishioners. If they were, he said, he'd say they have a duty as Catholics to open their doors to all.

Catholics? Opening doors? Duty?

Talk about your wishy-washy liberal voodoo.