An article in the Charlotte Observer states:
The safety measures will include uniformed and plain-clothes police officers at all weekend Masses along with hired security guards, Monsignor John J. McSweeney told parishioners in a memo emailed Friday.
The Charlotte church is also banning a list of 15 items in all worship halls. They include: large bags, backpacks, diaper bags, laptops, computer cases, luggage, video equipment, laser pointers, baby strollers, and anything that can conceal items or that clergy and staff determine poses a security hazard.
The church has already added cameras throughout its sprawling campus. The new measures, McSweeney said, were approved by the church’s safety awareness team.He told the Observer that the measures aren’t a reaction, but “a proactive piece of planning we have for security."
To continue reading click here.But I've gotten away from the point. The stroller. We wouldn't be able to go to Mass without the stroller. Whether or not people understand it, it's her safe space in a busy, noisy, incense filled world.
Maggie has a hard time with certain sounds. Some of them, we know. If her sister coughs one time, her face will crumble and she will collapse sobbing "hurts" and clutching her head. If she hears certain musical instruments, or sounds, the response is also painful.
Often she's excited to Mass. I've seen her throw back her head and positively glow with joy at the consecration. Sometimes I hear her whispering to herself about Jesus as she stares at the crucifix.
Other times, that are far more rare, it's clearly too much. Her stroller, however, has become a safe place. Most days she sits in it quietly now, but when we've tried to remove the stroller things have gone dramatically in the wrong direction.
One particularly memorable Mass we tried and I got to go home with a broken nose from a stray flailing (and entirely unintentional) kick to the face from the terrified child.
So for the time being, the stroller stays.
I understand the security concerns that have caused this Church to take the steps that they obviously feel are necessary to keep people safe. The climate we live in is very much filled with fear and this is honestly one of the less radical ideas I've seen suggested.
I hope it doesn't catch on though. I hope that before they ban the materials that make it possible for many families to go to Mass, they set up walk through metal detectors and have those uniformed police officers that the article mentioned (or perhaps other security personnel), check large, worrisome bags like they do at Disney World (or like they do at the local ER).
I also can't help but wonder what comes next. Will we be taking off our shoes so they can be checked? Pat downs at the door? Evil people have come up with plenty of ways to attempt to bypass security checks. Is that pregnant woman really pregnant or is she concealing something else beneath her maternity shirt?
Mass can be really, really hard for some families. I pray that we don't see this sort of thing expanding and catching on at other parishes, and making it incredibly difficult, or even in cases like ours, entirely impossible, for families who are trying to raise children in the faith to go to Mass.
I pray for those making these decisions, trying to keep the people within their Churches safe, that they will be prudent in making these decisions and in balancing the actual risks with the real possibility that they're making it impossible for some families and individuals to come to Mass.