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Wednesday, July 30, 2003

The Installation

During my "lunch" break at work today, I walked a few blocks toward the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, where the installation mass for Boston's new archbishop, Sean O'Malley, was in progress (as expected, Boston.com has exhaustive coverage).

I saw a group of people playing some instruments, dancing and chanting something unintelligible at the intersection of Washington Street with Union Park Street. They had a big banner that said "Welcome" to O' Malley, and I had a strange feeling they were not from Boston. At the other Washington Street Corner of the cathedral were the protesters, most of whom were not around at 12:45 or so, when I passed through. They must have been getting lunch before returning to their posts to bother the people coming out after mass. They had left some of their angry signs on the ground there. In between the two groups were all of the TV trucks (some of which were also on side streets) and a platform with all of the TV stations' remote locations set up. Most of the TV people were also milling around since they would not be on the air for another half hour or so. I was taken aback by the sight of such a media gathering in front of such establishments as Foodies Urban Market and Harry O's.

A strange thing I noticed is that along Union Park Street and Washington, the police presence was very heavy and barricades blocked traffic. But on the other side of the cathedral, I was able to walk right up some steps to look into a side door at the mass in progress, and no one bothered me. I was one of very few people who was just there looking around and didn't have a TV report to do or any strong feelings toward the church. I guess most people don't venture down into the South End all that much. I know I didn't before I started my job.

A final note on the protesters: I have mixed feelings about them. I think they have done a real service by holding the archidiocese's feet to the fire on the abuse issue, and without them we would not have seen such progress. I get the sense that some of them will never be satisfied with the church's response though, which was evident in signs I saw that suggested all bishops are corrupt, O'Malley is a bad guy, etc. If Jesus himself were there today, I think some of the protesters would've jeered him. And the press is playing up their presence too much, I feel. Pictures like this make it look like they were a big angry mob, but if the photographer were to step back, you could see they really weren't that big or imposing of a crowd. I guess reporters like to make things exciting when it comes to protests.

O'Malley is getting raves for his thoughtful remarks today during the ceremonies, and they are deserved. My prediction is that he'll do well in fixing the abuse situation but run into some trouble down the road when people start paying attention to how conservative he really is in other areas.