One of the most moving images from 9/11 is this photo of New York firefighters, a policeman, and two civilians carrying the body of Father Mychal Judge amidst the choking dust and debris of what, just moments ago, had been the World Trade Center.
Mychal F. Judge, OFM, was a Roman Catholic priest of the Franciscan Order and a chaplain of the Fire Department of New York. Judge was also the first certified fatality of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Upon hearing the news that the World Trade Center had been hit, Judge rushed to the site where he administered the last rites to the dead and dying, as well as offered aid and prayers for the rescuers, the injured and dead. When the South Tower collapsed at 9:59 am, debris went flying through the North Tower lobby, killing many inside, including Judge.
Then was then, and now is now.
Twelve years after 9/11 at the site of another terrorist attack — the Boston Marathon bombings on April 15, 2013 — instead of being welcomed to administer last rites and comfort the injured, priests were turned away.
Jennifer Graham writes for the Wall Street Journal, April 25, 2013, that the heart-wrenching photographs taken in the moments after the Boston Marathon bombings show the blue-and-yellow jackets of volunteers, police officers, fire fighters, emergency medical technicians, even a three-foot-high blue M&M. Conspicuously absent are any clerical collars or images of pastoral care.
This was not for lack of proximity. Close to the bombing site are Trinity Episcopal Church, Old South Church and St. Clement Eucharistic Shrine, all on Boylston Street. When the priests at St. Clement’s, three blocks away, heard the explosions, they gathered sacramental oils and hurried to the scene in hopes of anointing the injured and, if necessary, administering last rites, the final of seven Catholic sacraments. But the priests, who belong to the order Oblates of the Virgin Mary, weren’t allowed at the scene.
The Rev. John Wykes, director of the St. Francis Chapel at Boston’s soaring Prudential Center, and the Rev. Tom Carzon, rector of Our Lady of Grace Seminary, were among the priests who were turned away right after the bombings.
It was jarring for Father Wykes, who, as a hospital chaplain in Illinois a decade ago, was never denied access to crime or accident scenes. He said, “I was allowed to go anywhere. In Boston, I don’t have that access. Priests are no longer considered to be emergency responders.”
Father Carzon, the seminary rector, said he was “disappointed” when he wasn’t allowed at the scene of the bombing. “Once it was clear we couldn’t get inside, we came back here to St. Clement’s, set up a table with water and oranges and bananas to serve people, and helped people however we could.” By that point, spectators and runners who had been unable to finish the marathon were wandering around, frightened, disoriented, confused and cold. Father Carzon was able to minister to a runner who wasn’t injured but had assisted a bystander with catastrophic injuries. Two hours later, the runner, a Protestant, was still walking around the area in shock and disbelief.
“He came over, and said, ‘You’re a priest, I need to talk to someone, I need to talk,’ and he was able to pour out some of the story of what had happened,” Father Carzon said. “Then there was an off-duty firefighter who was there as a spectator, and he, too, got pushed out of the perimeter, and he ended up here to pray. There was a feeling of helplessness we had when we couldn’t get close. But doing the little that we could—putting out a table with water and fruit, being there—I realize how much that ‘little’ was able to do.”
It is a poignant irony that Martin Richard, the 8-year-old boy who died on Boylston Street, was a Catholic who had received his first Communion just last year. As Martin lay dying, priests were only yards away, beyond the police tape, unable to reach him to administer last rites—a sacrament that, to Catholics, bears enormous significance.
The Boston Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on its policy regarding clergy at the scenes of emergencies.
Update (May 18, 2015):
I wrote this post more than two years ago. Since then, so many anomalies have been noted about the Boston Marathon Bombing that legitimate questions must be asked about whether this incident was real.
With what I now know about the incident, I am no longer perplexed, as I was two years ago, by why priests were barred from ministering to the dead, dying, and injured at the bombing site. After all, if priests had been allowed, they would have discovered that the “victims” were all crisis actors. Recall that the authorities at the scene refused to give an explanation as to why priests were barred. I challenge you to come up with another explanation.
For all the posts we’ve published on this false flag, please go to our “Boston Marathon Bombings” page.