The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Cathedral hosts rite for 600 new Catholics

By Michael S. Rosenwald, Globe Staff, 3/10/2003

More than 2,000 people packed the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End yesterday to watch some 600 people take part in the Rite of Election, the last stage of a journey for those wanting to join the Catholic Church.

The catechumens and candidates, who will complete their preparation with sacraments of initiation at the Easter Vigil, were joined by family members and their godparents on the first Sunday of Lent.

''God, never wanting in his generosity, has invited you on a very important journey,'' said Bishop Richard G. Lennon, administrator for the Boston Archdiocese.

Officials for the diocese said the number of people taking the journey had dropped from last year, when more than 1,000 people participated.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said that one obvious reason for the decline was the ''turmoil and upheaval in the church over the last 14 or 15 months'' because of the sexual abuse scandal, including Cardinal Bernard F. Law's resignation.

However, Coyne said he was heartened to see the 600 people, many of whom were immigrants, turn out. It also marked the first time in many months that the cathedral's pews were full. The cathedral has been the focus of weekly protests over the church's handling of the sexual abuse crisis.

''It's nice to see it like this,'' Coyne said.

It was also Lennon's first chance to lead the Rite of Election service, which is typically one of the most sacred acts each year for the leader of an archdiocese, a rite that Law thoroughly enjoyed and looked forward to.

''This is a special time each year,'' Lennon said following the service. ''This is also a real honor for me.''

It was Jason Eldridge's first time at the cathedral. The 26-year-old from Marblehead was baptized in another church, but was taking part in the Rite of Election in preparation for his upcoming marriage.

''This is overwhelming,'' he said. ''This is a real blessing.''

This story ran on page B12 of the Boston Globe on 3/10/2003.
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