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December 16th, 2010
07:00 AM ET

Crime-fighting priest hits the streets

By Kate Bolduan and Eric Marrapodi, CNN

It was the murder of 75-year-old Tom Repchic that was the final straw for Father Greg Maturi, a Dominican priest in Youngstown, Ohio.

Repchic and his wife, Jackie, were shot near Saint Dominic's Church in September. Jackie Repchic had to have a leg amputated because of her injuries and is recovering.

"We're a very close-knit family and try to help each other out however we can. You can go to Tom for anything," said his sister-in-law Rita Blasko. "It was a terrible day. Very hard. You're trying to mourn for Tom and you still have Jackie. It's very difficult. ...We just miss him, and he will never be replaced."

Surrounded by family, the pain of their loss still evident in their faces, Blasko said, "I don't think any of us will ever get over this."

Police investigators say it was a case of mistaken identity. Tom Repchic's car looked similar to the person the killers were looking for. Repchic was the second parishioner in just eight months to be killed in the shadow of Saint Dominic's.

"After the second murder, I said enough is enough. And I decided I needed to get more involved with the neighborhood because as goes the neighborhood, so goes the church," Maturi said while strolling the snow-filled streets of Youngstown's southside, the center of the recent violence plaguing the town.

"Whatever Youngstown has been doing up until now hasn't been working," Maturi said. "We need to take another approach."

So he stepped off the pulpit and into the streets to take on the crime where it lives.

He took a list of 20 homes to Mayor Jay Williams, saying the vacant properties needed to come down immediately. Williams agreed and added seven more to the list.

"I will not allow, we will not allow, these crimes as heinous as they are to define the city," Williams said.

Youngstown Mayor Jay Williams launched Operation Redemption to try to fight crime by ripping down abandoned houses.

They call the plan Operation Redemption. The initiative is simple but aggressive - battle the recent violence by tearing down the abandoned homes that have become havens for criminal activity, then hope to stem the tide of residents fleeing the city.

"At minimum it removes the blight, it removes the haven for criminals, it removes targets of arsonists. It allows property owners to recognize and feel like their neighborhood is being transformed," Williams said on a recent walk past several of the derelict properties.

Operation Redemption aims to rip down abandoned houses like this one.

Youngstown has faced many of the challenges of other Rust Belt cities. As the steel industry fell, the population shrank by more than half in the past few decades. The population hovers around 75,000, and Williams says he doubts it will ever return to the days when it was more than 170,000.

With the population decline came a huge increase in vacant and abandoned homes.

Abandon houses line the streets in Youngstown’s southside.

Jimmy Hughes has been a cop for more than 30 years. He is now the city's police chief and says urban blight has been a huge factor in the city's crime.

"When the house burglaries happen, they break into one house and they're stashing stolen property in some of these vacant homes. Some of the prostitutes we have in some of the neighborhoods, they're using vacant homes for their street hotels," Hughes said. "I could put a cop on every corner and it would still be the same. I could put a cop on every street and every corner and these [crimes] would still occur because we'd still be overwhelmed by them."

Youngstown Police Chief Jimmy Hughes, left, takes CNN Correspondent Kate Bolduan through the southside.

Hughes said he fully supports the mayor joining forces with Maturi. "If nothing else, the neighborhood knows, they believe they have a safer place to live with these [houses] not here," Hughes said.

Most of the homes targeted by this initiative surround Saint Dominic's, which many in Youngstown view as the last stronghold of the community. Maturi said it is not only his civic duty to step in, but also what his faith teaches him - to help those who cannot help themselves.

"We're not separate from the neighborhood. We're one with the neighborhood and the church is here to help the neighborhood," he said.

The city has promised that all of the more than two dozen homes on the initial list will be torn down by the beginning of 2011.

Both Williams and Maturi hope it's the first real, tangible step in the right direction to revitalize the city. However, the project has not been without speed bumps.

It costs the city about $3,000 to demolish each house, and federal red tape has slowed the process. The Environmental Protection Agency has required the city to conduct asbestos abatement in many of the buildings, which the city says is prohibitively expensive.

"The EPA is worried about lead in paint. We're worried about lead in bullets," Maturi said. "What's more important?"

All the while, some residents, including the family of Tom Repchic, fear nothing is going to turn this desperate situation around.

"I commend Father and I hope what he's doing will help, but I just don't see it getting better," Blasko said.

Surprisingly, with crime and murder happening right outside his front door, Maturi says battling the hopelessness among his parishioners and the community is his toughest fight yet.

"My biggest problem is not fear of being attacked by gangs or whatever. My biggest problem is keeping people from falling into despair and becoming cynical," he said. "That is a tougher fight than a physical fight."

By putting such a public face on a dangerous battle, some now fear Maturi has also made himself a target. But almost like a superhero in a comic book, Maturi quickly responded, "That may well be the case, but that's not going to slow me down. ...This is why I became a priest. This is what a priest does."

CNN's Jeremy Moorhead contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Catholic Church • Christianity • Church • Death • Houses of worship • Mass • Ohio • TV • United States • Violence

soundoff (174 Responses)
  1. Rocco and the MacManus family

    And shepherds we shall be,
    for thee my Lord for thee,
    Power hath descended forth from thy hand,
    that our feet may swiftly carry out thy command,
    we shall flow a river forth to thee,
    and teeming with souls shall it ever be.
    In nomine patris, et filii et spiritus sancti.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:56 pm |
    • DeadPeace

      Amen.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  2. Andy

    When I was growing up our parish priest was an ass kicker. I like his approach god bless him because Youngstown is one big blight.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • toby

      Funny, ours was an ass-grabber and crotch groper-but that's another story.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • Anon

      Toby: You're right. This is one story. Yours is another. Why don't you go over to the comments box about your story and comment there?

      December 16, 2010 at 3:53 pm |
    • David

      toby, once you're finished derping, crawl back to 4chan and troll somewhere else.

      December 16, 2010 at 4:05 pm |
  3. Whitney

    He's doing great work. I'll be praying for him.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
  4. ProperVillain

    Finally, a priest/minister doing something other than protesting or calling for boycotts. This guy is awesome! Hopefully they can get through all the red tape to actually get something done. Shame on the EPA and city for throwing up barriers. The pathetic thing is that if these same city/government cubicle jockeys were forced to live in the neighborhood where all the crime is occurring I'm sure the red tape would magically disappear...

    December 16, 2010 at 1:51 pm |
    • Seeabell

      It actually happens more than is reported. The Franciscan Friars of the Renewal (a Roman Catholic order) do amazing work in some of the poorest cities of the world, for example. Much of the work that priests do for the poor never makes even the back pages of the news. I'm glad to see this article about a good man doing his best to bring his neighborhood up.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
    • toby

      It may be possible that this priest is in fact our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I think Jesus may well have come back to earth in the form of this priest (at least possessing his body and mind) to try to make the world a better place us all to live. Children should be taught the facts that Jesus is the True God in flesh or they may burn forever is the furnances of Divine Justice. Peace.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      Am I the only one that thinks Toby sounds like a drug addict?

      December 16, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • Shilohgl

      @Toby

      You might want to study the bible a bit more before you make this comment. Start with revalations and you will way this priest isnt Jesus.

      December 19, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  5. jane doe

    he should hit Wall Street if he wants to fight the real crimes.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
    • DeadPeace

      Screw Wall Street. The real crime is in D.C. But I think the streets would be alot easier to clean.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Dante

      DC is corrupt because of Wall Street. You will never have honest politicians as long as corporations are allowed to buy them.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • BuddyKowalsk

      ...or the Vatican....

      December 16, 2010 at 3:48 pm |
  6. Veritas

    Father Maturi may God bless you and keep you safe from. So glad to here something positive about a priest

    December 16, 2010 at 1:45 pm |
  7. Steve

    we need to gather up all the inner city gang members (military) and then send them down to Haiti and see rough real people have it.
    but oh no. they want to rob, kill and suck off this country. I pack and I suggest everyone else does. two thugs tried to take my car in 2007 well, one is in a wheelchair and the other is serving 5 years.!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:41 pm |
    • Monica

      Cudos to Steve

      And wonderful work, Father..>GOD BLESS YOU and your community

      December 16, 2010 at 2:25 pm |
    • Grench The Mean 1

      Steve, is right... But, the inner city stuff mean's, "you people believe" you still "own" the inner city young, you so well, presribed. Most bibicial ideaology is NOT needed where the pearl is IN the swine (i.e. the taste is in the pudding, so too speak). The pudding is brown, DNA "results" have CONFIRMED the birth place (of man-kind) came from Afrika (the proper way to pronouce it), and most life (as you all know it) can from SOMEONE of color.

      Forget an agurment but, thats the reality even the Pope, wouldn't realize nor 'respect'. Anyways, good luck on preacher and don't get caugth with the possiablity, the Pope's second tier people, to decide your "fate"..

      Grench

      December 16, 2010 at 3:50 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      The problem with your suggestion is that most people have lousy aim. How about we change it to "everyone that can afford to spend an hour a week in target shooting" should carry a weapon? In my case, I can hit moving targets quite well but stationary targets elude me. I have never understood this.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
  8. Steve

    great story

    now the thugs just need to come down with horrible diseases and leave this earth!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:39 pm |
  9. kuuipo

    Somebody had to do it! the priest went above & beyond his call of duty & did the job of the police & the Mayor who should have started doing something about it a long time ago but noooo! they had to wait for someone else to step up to the plate & try to knock it out before they decided (The Mayor & Police!) to do something about it and get involved. God Bless them all & good luck in their accomplishments!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  10. kuuipo

    At least somebody decided to step up to the plate and do the job that the Mayor & the police should have started a long time ago but noooo! they had to wait for someone else to do something before they decided to even do anything & get involved! hopefully this will help their town, i know doing something is better then standing back & complaining & doing nothing! God Bless you all & good luck in your accomplishments!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
  11. kuuipo

    Somebody had to do it! instead of just standing back & watching nothing being done about it or instead of complaining about it, the Priest went above and beyond his call of duty which is alot even for him! the police & the Mayor should've started doing something a long time ago but noooo! they had to wait for someone to step up to the plate & do their job for them before they decided to get involved! how sad but true, at least someone was willing to make that first step that they so obviously needed!

    December 16, 2010 at 1:23 pm |
  12. Mike K

    They tore down a bunch of vacant homes in Detroit, too. The criminals simply find other means of conducting their business. The problem with crime isn't that people have places to commit the crimes, it's that people have reasons to commit the crimes.

    December 16, 2010 at 1:09 pm |
    • Chris K

      While I agree that taking away these buildings will not stop the crime. It certainly won't facilitate the crime either. It may not stop the crime completely, but it may help the that particular neighborhood. Making a crappy place less crappy is still progress.

      It is easier to tear down a building than it is to change someones mind. What I think you are missing is the the idea that a town that does something instead of nothing, is more effective at changing peoples minds than one that does nothing at all.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • DeadPeace

      Mostly, I agree. But in many cases, most cases, as hard as things are, they have a choice. Society did not make them gun down a 75 year old. Today's culture shows an abject lack of any morality, and THAT is the primary problem. If no-one belives in right or wrong, then wrong will always dominate. The Devil's greatest wile is to convince others that he does not exist. And evil triumphs when good men [and women] do nothing.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • Reynolds

      It's not the place, it's the population.

      How many majority black or Hispanic areas don't have these kinds of problems?

      Conversely, how many majority white areas do?

      December 16, 2010 at 3:51 pm |
    • volunteering

      Reynolds, I guess you've never been to Dundalk, MD or anywhere in north Florida. There is plenty of violent crime in these poor-white-trash areas although it looks a little different from the violence present in other areas. People commit crime because they choose to. We have public assistance in this country and it assists to help people get back on their feet. However, some groups have made it culture to aspire to the dole while supplementing with crime throughout life. That lifestyle is particularly prevalent in Baltimore and Detroit.

      Remember: if you do nothing, you've done nothing. If you did something, you've done something. Something is always better than nothing. All you black-and-white thinkers out there: get off your lazy butts and do SOMETHING or shut your traps when people do some good. I don't have time to volunteer, I MAKE time a couple days a month. Have I saved the world? No, but I helped do something and I know I did some good.

      December 16, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Volunteering,
      This may be your favorite quote by Robert Schuller: Doing something imperfectly is better than doing nothing flawlessly.

      December 16, 2010 at 7:11 pm |
    • JB

      Coulnd't agree more! It fixes the visual problem but get to the core.

      December 16, 2010 at 8:59 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Mike K: Exactly. You want to start with something radical like tearing down some houses, but you must back it up with the root causes of why this level of crime exists, and why the authorities have not reined it in.

      December 17, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
  13. Altarboy

    I like priests.....

    December 16, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • Bob

      I take it you like massive reconstructive surgery as well.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • crookedarm

      Thanks for the chuckle.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:46 pm |
  14. Reality

    Asbestos in older homes:

    "STEAM PIPES, BOILERS, and FURNACE DUCTS insulated with an asbestos blanket or asbestos paper tape. These materials may release asbestos fibers if damaged, repaired, or removed improperly.

    RESILIENT FLOOR TILES (vinyl asbestos, asphalt, and rubber), the backing on VINYL SHEET FLOORING, and ADHESIVES used for installing floor tile. Sanding tiles can release fibers. So may scraping or sanding the backing of sheet flooring during removal.

    CEMENT SHEET, MILLBOARD, and PAPER used as insulation around furnaces and woodburning stoves. Repairing or removing appliances may release asbestos fibers. So may cutting, tearing, sanding, drilling or sawing insulation.

    DOOR GASKETS in furnaces, wood stoves, and coal stoves. Worn seals can release asbestos fibers during use.

    SOUNDPROOFING OR DECORATIVE MATERIAL sprayed on walls and ceilings. Loose, crumbly, or water-damaged material may release fibers. So will sanding, drilling or scraping the material.

    PATCHING AND JOINT COMPOUNDS for walls and ceilings, and TEXTURED PAINTS. Sanding, scraping, or drilling these surfaces may release asbestos.

    ASBESTOS CEMENT ROOFING, SHINGLES, and SIDING. These products are not likely to release asbestos fibers unless sawed, drilled or cut.

    ARTIFICIAL ASHES AND EMBERS sold for use in gas-fired fireplaces. Also, other older household products such as FIREPROOF GLOVES, STOVE-TOP PADS, IRONING BOARD COVERS, and certain HAIRDRYERS."

    A potential solution: Encase the home to be demolished in high-strength plastic akin to a huge plastic garbage bag. Use wrecking balls to compress/destroy the house from the outside of the "bagged" house without breaking the plastic film shield. Truck the the compressed house/bag in the local landfill returning the asbestos to the ground from where it came..

    Or simply bury it at the house site.

    December 16, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • John

      A decent idea on the surface, but it won't work in reality. With thousands of nails in the house and dozens of broken windows, as well as other boards that might pop up as the house collapses, the bag will not just be punctured, but shredded. Besides, you should know what the EPA would think of using that much evil (non-biodegradable) plastic.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:40 pm |
    • Kraznodar

      Nice theory but not at all practical. A plastic thick enough to resist puncture by board fragments and nails would impede the demolition significantly.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:47 pm |
    • CYA

      Reality: use of masks and requiring all workers on site to wash prior to eating, drinking or using the loo is both an effective and practical solution. Removing work overalls/coveralls prior to leaving the site keeps workers from tracking contamination home. As someone who works with contagious biological materials (much worse than lead and asbestos), these measures are easy and comfortable and cost effective. It's also common sense. The people who develop poisonings and even cancer much later have been exposed without protection many, many times. Kids get exposed when they EAT THE PAINT: something kids sometimes do. Common sense: someday it will make a comeback but then where will natural selection be?

      December 16, 2010 at 3:52 pm |
    • Reality

      Another solution? Dig a hole next to the house to be demolished. Cover the house and hole with an inflatable dome. Have a radio controled bulldozer inside the dome with cameras to guide the dozer as it pushes the house it demolished into the hole. Cover with dirt from the hole. Remove the dome and repeat.

      December 16, 2010 at 11:59 pm |
  15. JDT

    in a time where religion has seemed to become irrelevant in the lives of many around this country, this is a great way to become "relevant" again. Not necessarily to "recruit" people to faith, but to act as a conerstone in a community. Good on you sir!

    December 16, 2010 at 11:42 am |
    • Claud

      Totally agree!!

      December 16, 2010 at 2:28 pm |
  16. N. MacE

    We need more good priests. I remember the days when they were respected. At least we are stopping some bad ones.

    December 16, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • David

      The people who don't respect priests in general are the same kind of people who rant and rave about Islam/Muslims because of the actions of random terrorists. There's absolutely no reason to lose any respect for the average priest because a few pedophiles were found in the profession. If we generalized such sentiment in all cases where a few members of some group/company/religion/nation/etc did anything, well we're being rather unreasonable.

      December 16, 2010 at 4:18 pm |
    • Bob

      You are correct, there is no reason to not respect individual priests because there were pedophiles. There IS reason not to respect the church because they directly and callously protected such individuals.

      They in essence saw a wolf in sheep's clothing and said "here, you're missing some wool over here."

      December 17, 2010 at 8:37 am |
  17. Tom Hanks

    First, the plan to demolish abandoned houses is a great start. Second, rebuild and hire priests do to cops dirty work.

    December 16, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • Bob

      Turn the other cheek isn't going to help when a criminal refuses to go to jail for a crime and becomes violent.

      Oh that's right. The priest will hear confession then let the criminal back out to do whatever it was he was doing previously.

      I had forgotten. Yes, let's replace cops with priests.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:29 pm |
    • DeadPeace

      @Bob Confession doesn't count if they're not sincere.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:05 pm |
    • Bob

      How will the priest know if he's sincere?

      December 17, 2010 at 8:35 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Bob,

      If someone makes a false confession [lies about anything…plans to continue in the sin, etc.] God knows and those sins are still on your soul. The priest stands in Persona Christi to absolve sins; anyone who is capable of confessing sins is capable of knowing that they cannot be truly absolved if you retain them in your heart and expect to continue in them.

      December 19, 2010 at 8:21 am |
    • Shilohgl

      Bob,

      You are silly. We are all dumber after reading you post.

      As far as confession to a priest, there is no need. You can confess your sins straight to Jesus thru prayer. He knows if you are sincere or not.

      December 19, 2010 at 10:18 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Shilohgl,

      James Chapter 5:16
      16
      Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.

      …..It does say to confess your sins to one another…not directly to God………

      Matthew 9:2-8
      2
      And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, "Courage, child, your sins are forgiven."
      3
      At that, some of the scribes 2 said to themselves, "This man is blaspheming."
      4
      Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, "Why do you harbor evil thoughts?
      5
      Which is easier, to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Rise and walk'?
      6
      But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins" –he then said to the paralytic, "Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home."
      7
      He rose and went home.
      8
      When the crowds saw this they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to human beings.

      ……the authority was given to human beings…..not a human being………..this was the power given the Apostles….

      John 20:22-23
      22
      And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, "Receive the holy Spirit.
      23
      Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained."

      …..this was the power given the Apostles……

      2 Cor5:17-20
      17
      So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.
      18
      And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation,

      …Paul is saying they are Christ’s ambassadors in the ministry of reconciliation……

      Matthew 18:18
      18 … Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.

      …..These are some of the verses that coincide with the Church’s teaching on the Sacrament of Confession/Reconciliation…….

      December 20, 2010 at 12:28 pm |
  18. CatholicMom

    Thank you, Father Greg Maturi, for setting an example of how to start the ball rolling.

    Many people can complain about a variety of things that plague their neighborhoods and often say things like, ‘Why doesn’t someone do something?’, or, ‘We can’t tear that house down because it carries lead paint’, or ‘It will cost too much money’….well, thank God for Father Maturi who is not looking for someone else to step forward but is taking the bull by the horns himself. God bless that town for having others willing to join in because just as we are not alone in our faith in Jesus Christ, we are members of something greater, and we can support one another in so many ways. The job will move ahead and make strides toward good when good people take action together.

    December 16, 2010 at 9:14 am |
  19. Frogist

    "The Environmental Protection Agency has required the city conduct asbestos abatement in many of the homes, which the city says is prohibitively expensive.

    "The EPA is worried about lead in paint. We're worried about lead in bullets, Maturi said. "What's more important?"'

    Well in 10 yrs or so when all his parishioners are dying of lung cancer, they might think it's important.
    I'm glad he's taking on the crime in his town, but he has to recognize the dangers other than gangs. Faster may be more convenient, but it's not necessarily better.

    December 16, 2010 at 8:57 am |
    • John

      In this case it's better.

      December 16, 2010 at 11:54 am |
    • Frogist

      @John: Maybe for you. But I hope it's ok for all the people who live there. And I hope they were properly informed.

      December 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm |
    • GrammarNazi

      The EPA is doing their job. Taking down these abandoned houses is a great idea, but there's no need to been unsafe about it. Just impulsively tearing down houses that are saturated with carcinogens is very unsafe. The typical crimes taking places in these houses is less harmful than asbestos and lead-based paints. I am not validating these criminal activities, but some idiot catching syphilis is not as bad as an innocent neighborhood getting any of a number of deadly and painful health problems.

      I support this priest's actions and his reasons, but logic should stifle his ferver to a more level-headed degree. Why stab yourself to cut your foe today when you can safely cut your foe tomorrow?

      December 16, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • Michael Terrell

      Frogis wrote: "Faster may be more convenient, but it's not necessarily better."
      GrammarNazi "The typical crimes taking places [sic] in these houses is [sic, again] less harmful than asbestos and lead-based paints."

      Aside from GrammarNazi's (that name's a joke, right?) poorly written response, look at the context of the sentences above: proper removal of lead-based paints is more important than citizens being murdered on the streets? What a heartless "Christian" democracy we are. Cold-blooded.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:50 pm |
    • DeadPeace

      In this case, it's much better. We'll deal with cancer when it comes. This issue is far bigger than that!

      December 16, 2010 at 2:02 pm |
    • Dante

      Aside from Michael Terrell's poorly written response, look at the context of the sentences above: families suffering health problems or child deaths due to chemicals that could have been easily contained is less important than citizens feeling a tiny bit safer because some empty building was removed a month earlier? What a heartless "Christian" democracy we are. Cold-blooded.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:17 pm |
    • Robert

      Steubenville , Ohio is in the same situation.Need to combine both great cities to fix the big problem ;when the stee mills were closed

      December 16, 2010 at 3:03 pm |
    • Xyzzy

      GrammarNazi said "I am not validating these criminal activities, but some idiot catching syphilis is not as bad as an innocent neighborhood getting any of a number of deadly and painful health problems."

      Huh??? Syphillis is not the problem. And as for "an innocent neighborhood getting any of a number of deadly and painful health problems", what do you call gangs, drugs, and street level violence?

      December 16, 2010 at 3:10 pm |
    • CYA

      Even if a house does contain lead paint and/or asbestos insulation, tearing it down releases a small, very temporary burst of material into the surrounding environment. The risk to anyone except someone manually tearing down insulation without a mask is very small. People who wash their hands prior to eating or rubbing their eyes won't get any contamination at all. People who smoke cigarettes get lung cancer, not Joe Schmoe walking his dog past a house coming down. Get real people. The crimes taking place in these houses far outweigh 1 year of red tape to tear it down. It isn't just bullets either. Vacant houses are frequently burned down by homeless and "just because" and fire knows no boundaries. How 'ya feeling about that tiny bit of lead now? If you lived next door, there you be no debate here. Red tape doesn't exist to improve safety, it exists as a CYA manoever (cover-your-az) to protect against the ubiquitous and usually rediculous lawsuit.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:41 pm |
    • David

      Well ok, sure, we should be mindful of all dangers. But I think you're exaggerating a bit. He won't be losing all his parishioners – if any – to lung cancer from lead paint. For most of them, a more likely way to go *would* be a bullet.

      December 16, 2010 at 4:03 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Who is going to be unhappy to have a dilapidated house removed next door and have a green space there instead? People are going to be reporting more houses that need removing faster than they can take them down! Other towns are going to take notice!

      You have started a national movement, Father Maturi!

      December 16, 2010 at 10:50 pm |
    • Frogist

      @Catholic Mom: I would be unhappy if creation of that green space caused my child to have cancer or a neurological problem. I want to know the risks and what I can do to protect my family and decide for myself before some gung ho priest with a wrecking ball and decides for me.

      December 17, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
    • Shilohgl

      @Frogist

      Which would you rather: your daughter "possible slim chance" at getting cancer from a house being torn down or the extremely real chance she can ge t dragged into that same house ra-ped and or murdered while she is walking down the street? The only posion I would be worried about if I lived in that neighborhood would be lead posioning from some jack***'s gun. Take them all down.

      December 19, 2010 at 10:16 am |
    • Mark

      Nonsense. If it were asbestos it would be a different matter. The lead in the paint represents an almost non existent threat compared to their current situation. Let's keep it real.

      January 14, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  20. David Johnson

    The article said:
    "By putting such a public face on a dangerous battle, some now fear Maturi has also put a target on himself. But almost like a superhero in the comic book, Maturi quickly responds, "That may well be the case, but that's not going to slow me down...This is why I became a priest. This is what a priest does."

    Didn't Robert Blake already do this in the 80's series "Hell Town"?

    December 16, 2010 at 7:31 am |
    • Bob

      Father Maturi should be commended for his actions. Cudos sir.

      December 16, 2010 at 7:59 am |
    • NL

      Yeah, I remember that show. All priests should be like that, living amongst the people, being their voice, fighting for them. Sadly ...

      December 16, 2010 at 8:11 am |
    • Rob

      Your not going to be a Priest for long. How does Bishop sound? I promise you the Pope hears of this.

      December 16, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
    • Michelle

      @Steve, someone is doing something good and you think they have an agenda? Maybe you should learn from him, and start living a more joyful, less bitter life. There are way more good priests than bad. Stop being a bigot towards Catholics.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:11 pm |
    • bill disalvo

      First tear the houses down, THEN argue the merits of lead with the EPA. Red taspe should not be used as a gag.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • bill disalvo

      First tear the houses down, THEN argue the merits of lead with the EPA. Red tape should not be used as a gag.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Michelle

      If he were a gay-American, vegetarian civilian the commenters for this article would be singing his praises. Come on, people... he's just a good person trying to help his community. He deserves nothing but praise. Stop the hate.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Patrick

      My first thought was....This sounds like a bad 1980s TV show setup. So it was I guess.

      December 16, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
    • ChristianC

      (Didn't Robert Blake already do this in the 80's series "Hell Town?). Is this the best comment you are able to contribute to this situation?

      December 16, 2010 at 2:52 pm |
    • AJM

      Kick some ass Father! Thugs grow up and get a life.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:11 pm |
    • Nursehope

      Great. Just what we need?!...another community organizer. Wait he's white. Never mind.

      December 16, 2010 at 3:25 pm |
    • Dueane

      I see CNN blog posts have become a forum for racists, and fear mongers.
      All your ghastly comments should be broadcast @ your childens schools and the places you work and shop.
      Then, if your still keep spewing the hate from your mouths you win the right of your speech.... But you probably only have the balls to type this garbage from the safety of anonymity.

      December 16, 2010 at 4:47 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @ChristianC
      You said: "(Didn't Robert Blake already do this in the 80's series "Hell Town?). Is this the best comment you are able to contribute to this situation?"

      The best comment I could make, was/is: "There is no god".

      Cheers!

      December 17, 2010 at 7:55 am |
    • God dog

      St.Dominic Catholic Church
      77 east Lucius Ave
      Youngstown, Ohio 44507
      Attn: Fr Gregory Maturi

      December 18, 2010 at 1:05 pm |
    • Shilohgl

      @David Johnson

      I dont see an atheist lifting a finger to make mankind or even their neighborhood any better. Isnt that what atheist are supposed to be about other than denying God existence? Do you even know what you guys are about other than the "hating" on God? What do you guys contribute to society?

      December 19, 2010 at 10:08 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.