A couple updates from the Christmas T&G.

Cirignano hearing Feb 20:

Larry Cirignano, the Catholic Citizenship executive director who pushed a protester to the ground during a Dec. 16 anti-gay marriage rally here, will appear before a clerk magistrate on Feb. 20 on a charge of assault and battery.

Also, there’s a settlement of the lawsuit against the Library for its lending policy towards the homeless. For more info, see our podcast with all the background you’d ever want.

I’m not sure how a couple of legal stories end up in Monday’s paper. Wouldn’t these announcements have come out on Friday?

Crazy crèche sheep


The sheep on the left side of this beautiful nativity scene seems to be standing on its front legs, trying to kick Joseph in the knee.

The dove on Joseph’s crook is a nice touch. It’s only in the last three days that I’ve realized that Joseph is often depicted in nativity scenes holding a shepherd’s crook. Is this supposed to be some piece of gear he found lying around the barn?

M Iafrate has a nice version of the Christmas carol “Hardrock, Coco, and Joe” (mp3).


WCCA funding battle: This week Worcester Magazine and the Telegram & Gazette came out in support of WCCA, Worcester’s public access cable station. WoMag: “Public access television is both often boring and fundamentally important; and WCCA has distinguished itself in the breadth and accessibility of its offerings at its three-studio Main Street location.”

Hospitality: Catholic Worker opens in Erie.

City Council pay raise: Worth quoting in full:

Official Vote to approve 9-3. Voting against Lukes, Rosen and Palmieri. Watching the meeting tonight District Councilor Haller mentioned that she had spoken to people throughout to the Distict and received “overwhelming” support in favor of the pay raise.

Larry Cirignano flip-out: Telegram says, “Police have filed a criminal complaint against the executive director of Boston-based Catholic Citizenship on allegations he pushed a female counter-demonstrator to the ground during an anti-gay marriage rally Saturday outside City Hall.” Bay Windows has one of the longest stories out there. Additional details from BlueMassGroup’s David, Michael Ball, Edge Boston, and probably a dozen other blogs.
Continue reading “Items”

Catholic Worcester and Larry Cirignano

Kevin at Indymedia claims that Worcester’s Catholics by-and-large avoided Saturday’s marriage rally:

None of Worcester’s well known Catholic faces attended the “Rally for Democracy” and there were not any parish priests or sisters in the audience.

One of the organizers explains:

The Bishop was already committed to several events because of Christmas. Father Roy of Sacred Heart in Webster was on the agenda, but ended up doing a funeral on Saturday and couldn’t make it into Worcester until late afternoon.

If you haven’t worked much with bishops or priests, know that this is a typical problem. These men are busy, and can cancel at the last minute if something more important comes up.

Of the Catholics I know in Worcester, most of them don’t like gay marriage. I wonder if the tone of the anti-gay-marriage campaign hasn’t turned them off from being more involved.

If there really were no Worcester priests, nuns, or notable laity, that’s a bad sign for this campaign. It’s already a bad sign there weren’t enough of them there that their presence was obvious.

More from Indymedia:

Present though among this mix was a reporter/photographer from the Catholic Free Press. He interviewed and recorded Sarah Loy after she gave her statement to Worcester police officers. When he finished interviewing Ms Loy, I asked him if he thought the Catholic Free Press’s Editor Margaret Russell would use the interview. He said he didn’t know, but she’s the one that had assigned coverage of the rally.

So the “mainstream” Catholic media was present, has photographs and an interview regarding the assault, the question is will the Free Press and Diocese further distance itself from Larry Cirignano by publishing the full story or will it kill the story?

I’d be surprised if the Free Press covered this controversy. But they’ve surprised me before.

Another flaw in Research Bureau report

Research Bureau’s cable report:

Bay City, MI ran its public access channel with $30,000 in 2005.

Not exactly. Looks like there is no public access channel in Bay City. Telegram & Gazette:

The Research Bureau used data about the Bay City, Mich., station in its public access cost comparison as it advocated a major funding cut for WCCA amounting to roughly two-thirds of its $650,000 budget.

Bay 3 TV is a local channel funded by the city, county and local schools. Unlike WCCA and the many stations across the country like it, Bay 3 TV does not allow public access to its equipment. In its report, The Research Bureau compared Bay City’s zero funding for public, education and government channels to Worcester’s $1.1 million, money provided by Charter Communications to the city as a franchise fee.

So they’re just flat wrong. Their response:

Research Bureau Director Roberta R. Schaefer defended the inclusion of Bay City in the report. “We did not manufacture a station,” she said. “There’s a station there. It’s just a different combination of things.”

This report is like Swiss cheese.

“This report gets more erroneous and irritating by the minute,” [WCCA-hired] consultant Bunnie Riedel said in an e-mail to [WCCA director] Mr. DePasquale. “These people should stick to their lane in the road and not try to tackle a subject they know nothing about.”

Ms. Schaefer said cable subscribers might question whether WCCA should be spending its money on a consultant hired to promote its work.

Oh, that’s rich. If the City wants honest data about issues in the future, maybe it should hire more consultants and start throwing away Research Bureau reports as soon as they hit the mail room.

Midwest Catholic Worker resistance retreat


The fifth annual Midwest Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat will take place Sunday March 25 and Monday March 26, in South Bend, Indiana. The So Bend Catholic Worker Community is hosting.

South Bend Catholic Worker Community:

The South Bend Catholic Worker hopes that the Midwest Catholic Worker Resistance Retreat will be an opportunity to challenge the University of Notre Dame to speak more clearly for the peace that is based on the tradition of the Church and the ancient teaching of the apostles. Our goal is to inform the consciences of those students participating in ROTC by bringing to light the stark contradiction between Catholic teaching and military training, so that these ROTC students will become conscientious objectors to the military. We also hope that our actions, performed in the personalist manner of the Catholic Worker, will lead to the disintegration of ROTC at Notre Dame and all Catholic campuses.

The two day CW Retreat is designed to follow an all day Saturday, March 24th Catholic Peace Fellowship (CPF) Conference, “Neither Left Nor Right: the Heart of Christian Peacemaking”. Jim Forest and Tom Cornell, long time Catholic Workers and co-founders of CPF, will lead the CPF Conference. Also presenting will be Michael Baxter, South Bend Catholic Worker and CPF national secretary; Joshua Casteel, Iraq War Vet and conscientious objector; Farah Marie Mokhtareizadeh, an Iranian-American Catholic activist who recently traveled to Lebanon.

The cost for the CPF retreat is $25. (Though this fee can be waved for those who can not afford it.)

Steve Jacobs of the Columbia MO. CW community will lead and facilitate the CW Resistance Retreat which will end with a nonviolent direct action on the Notre Dame campus.

Housing and hospitality for the Conference and Retreat is being provided by the South Bend CW Community. Efforts to find beds for all out of town participants will be made with floor space as a last resort (something reserved for the younger folks if necessary). All participants are encouraged to register for both the Conference and the Retreat. Pre registration will be necessary for all who will need housing and or any special hospitality needs.

More on Cirignano incident

Worcester police interview Larry CirignanoKevin Ksen at Indymedia talked with Cirignano after he shoved a woman to the ground:

I spoke with Cirignano after the rally and asked him his side of what happened, “That lady came up to the podium and I escorted her back into the audience.” Given what had transpired, I followed-up to make sure I heard correctly, “Escorted?”, “Yes, escorted”, he replied. Asked if he felt he assaulted her he shot back without hesitation, “Hell, no!” adding, “She’s an actress, she’s a professional actress.”

Immediately after the assault took place Loy and others turned to the Worcester Police Officers present at the rally. And while the officers quickly took Loy’s complaint, they responded that since they had not seen the assault happen they couldn’t put Mr. Cirignano under arrest. In fact it was only after the intervention of Ron Madnick, Executive Director of the Worcester ACLU Chapter that officers agreed to take statements from witnesses who had stepped forward. At first officers said they didn’t need to take statements, but faced with Madnick’s and witnesses’ persistence they did. It did not appear though that they spoke with any of the people that videotaped the assault.

The rally continued uninterrupted as Police took Cirignano off to the side to question him. He was unfazed and non-apologetic as he was interviewed and charged.

Rollbiz at BlueMassGroup gives his own account:

It wasn’t a bump or a jostle. Cirignano took her by the shoulders, with both hands, and shoved her to the ground. I saw it, and I don’t think there was any misinterpreting his intent. He meant to hurt her.

Ryan Adams and Live, Love, and Learn are others who’ve blogged about this.

Assault at marriage rally

The Telegram & Gazette reports that my friend Sarah Loy was assaulted (shoved to the ground) by Larry Cirignano, executive director of, at an anti-gay-marriage rally in Worcester yesterday. Sarah was part of the pro-gay-marriage contingent.

Sarah Loy, 27, of Worcester was holding a sign in defense of same-sex marriage amid a sea of green “Let the People Vote” signs when Larry Cirignano of Canton, who heads the Catholic Citizenship group, ran into the crowd, grabbed her by both shoulders and told her, “You need to get out. You need to get out of here right now.” Mr. Cirignano then pushed her to the ground, her head slamming against the concrete sidewalk.


  • The Worcester Republican blog tries to spin this as being Sarah’s fault. Way to throw ethics out the window, guys. If you have a problem with someone at a demonstration, and there are cops about, you can first talk with the person, then refer it to the police.
  • Photos posted at Indymedia.
  • Mass ResistanceWatch also chimes in.
  • Michael Ball has a good late-afternoon wrapup.

This is one of those one-in-a-hundred posts where I wish I had a Jay Rosen-type format, so updates to the original post could be handled elegantly.

Worcester police interview Larry Cirignano
Worcester police interview Cirignano. Indymedia photo.

Worcester police interview Sarah Loy
Worcester police interview Ms. Loy. Indymedia photo.

(There’s a blank wiki page for Cirignano here.)

Ray Flynn, Cardinal O'Malley, Larry Cirignano
Ray Flynn, Sean Cardinal O’Malley, and Larry Cirignano. Photo from Archdiocese of Boston.