Vatican reporting preparing guidelines for diocesan downsizing
June 27, 2011
The Vatican is preparing instructions for the reorganization of American dioceses that are facing severe financial pressures in the wake of the sex-abuse scandal, according to a report on the new Italian web site Vatican Insider.
The report says that the Congregation for Clergy is working on a document that will provide guidelines for the closing or merging of parishes. The Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the Vatican body that handles questions of canon law, is now reviewing the text, Vatican Insider reports. The document may be released in the fall of this year, the report indicates.
In recent weeks the Vatican has ruled against the closing of several American parish churches. While recognizing the authority of diocesan bishops to allocate resources, Vatican tribunals have indicated that churches should remain open as sites of worship whenever possible. The Vatican rulings have complicated planning in many dioceses where, after paying enormous legal settlements to sex-abuse victims, Church officials are struggling to meet regular budget expenses.
The forthcoming Vatican document could also address questions about the sale of Catholic hospitals. In Boston, the sale of a Catholic hospital system raised serious questions about preserving the Catholic identity of the institutions, which are now under secular corporate management.
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