I recently spent six weeks in New Orleans, including the week that Archbishop Hughes announced his intention to close St. Augustine's Parish and push its 150-200 parishioners into neighboring St. Peter Clavier's Parish of 2,000. I could not help but see the Archbishop's attempt to dissolve St. Augustine's Parish as a replication and reinforcement of the community-shattering diaspora that began with Hope VI and became epic with last fall's tragic flood.
I was very glad to see St. Augustine's win its battle to remain the parish of St. Augustine's Parish Church, one of the most exquisitely beautiful and historically significant buildings in New Orleans. However, I was disturbed that Father Jerome LeDoux, who is deserving of all America's thanks for creating the long overdue monument, The Tomb of the Unknown Slave, won't remain.
Since Archbishop Hughes cited the cost of maintaining St. Augustine's Parish as the excuse for closing it down and dismissing its beloved priest, I would very much like to know just what the annual cost of St. Augustine's Parish could possibly be. The building seemed to be virtually undamaged by the hurricane and flood.
In June of 2005, the Associated Press reported the cost of settling claims against sexually predatory priests had cost Catholics $1.06 billion. Might we also know the cost of maintaining St. Augustine's Parish? I would also like to know what St. Augustine's and other parishes contribute to support the Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican.
Thanks to the parishioners of St. Augustine's for defending not only a building and a monument, but also a community.
Douglas Brinkley undermined the success of his book, The Great Deluge, and his reputation as a historian by having it released in the heat of the mayoral runoff. He seems to have important things to say about Katrina's aftermath and the failures at all levels of government, especially of the president and his Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff. But all this has been overshadowed by his criticisms of Mayor Nagin -- criticisms based solely on Brinkley's interviews with the mayor's political opponents. Does Brinkley have a political agenda here? He said the release of the book was negotiated with the publisher several months ago. He wants us to believe he couldn't ask the publisher to delay the release so it wouldn't be so entangled in the mayoral election? Sorry, I don't buy it.