Vatican planning to investigate Cleveland parish closings?
CWN - June 30, 2011
The Vatican is investigating a series of parish-closing decisions by Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland, an Italian journalist reports.
Marco Tosatti of La Stampa writes that the Vatican plans an apostolic visitation of the Cleveland diocese, to examine the bishop’s decision to close 50 parishes in the face of severe budget problems. The parish closings have prompted an angry reaction from parishioners, who have appealed to the Vatican for help.
The Vatican has not announced plans for any investigation of Bishop Lennon’s decision. The Cleveland diocese has not yet responded to the Italian newspaper report.
Earlier this week the Vatican Insider reported that the Congregation for Clergy is preparing a new document on diocesan reorganization plans, setting forth guidelines for dioceses that plan to close or merge parishes. A Vatican official later denied that any such instruction is imminent. But the tensions created by parish-closing decisions in American dioceses—compounded, in several cases, by Vatican rulings that the affected churches should not be closed—have exposed the need for some new thinking on the subject.
The Vatican has invariably confirmed the right of a bishop to allocate the resources within his diocese, and when necessary to close or consolidate parishes. However, Vatican tribunals have insisted that church buildings cannot be closed or sold without following proper canonical procedures.
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