Clerics — whom some might call first responders — looking to provide spiritual healing were turned away from the scene of the Boston Marathon bombings because of security risks.
For authorities trying to secure a crime scene, the decision to admit clergy to the site of a bombing is risky. According to The Wall Street Journal, "Anyone can buy a clerical collar for just $10, and a modestly talented seventh-grader with a computer and printer can produce official-looking credentials."
The Rev. Tom Carzon, rector of Our Lady of Grace Seminary, said he was disappointed he couldn't get closer to the scene.
"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," he told The Journal.
Father Carzon told The Journal that he was able to minister to a runner who wasn't injured but had assisted a bystander with severe injuries. Two hours later, the runner, a Protestant, was still walking around the area in shock.
"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."
The Wall Street Journal notes that the 8-year-old boy, Martin Richard, one of the three who died that day, had received his first Communion just last year. Priests were only yards away when Martin died.
"When the world can seem very dark and confusing, the presence of a priest is a presence of hope," the Rev. Richard Cannon, a priest in Hopkinton, Mass., where the marathon begins, said in a sermon after the bombings.
The Boston Police Department did not respond to a request for comment by The Journal on its policy regarding clergy at the scenes of emergencies.
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