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Pennsylvania diocese drops appeal of Vatican ruling on closed parishes

May 06, 2011

The Diocese of Allentown has dropped its appeal of a decision by the Congregation of the Clergy ordering that nine closed churches be maintained for sacred worship.

The Congregation had found that the Diocese of Allentown failed to provide a “grave reason” to justify the closing of nine parish church buildings. The diocese was not required to reopen the church buildings as parish churches, since the Congregation upheld the diocese’s decision to merge parishes. In March, the diocese stated it would appeal the Congregation’s decision in six of the nine cases.

As it dropped its appeal, the diocese announced that it would not reopen the six churches. The diocese said that it believed that the decrees, which ordered that the buildings be “maintained as Catholic worship sites,” “do not require the reopening of the churches,” in the words of a diocesan press release. The decrees, said diocesan spokesman Matt Kerr, had a more limited scope: the buildings “cannot be relegated to secular use.”

“The canon cited by the congregation’s decree specifically affirms the right of public worship in the suppressed churches,” countered Joseph Fuisz, an attorney who opposed the parish closings.


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