A while ago, I was asked, by friends, to write a possible script to be read on polish radio. This did not occur. Here follows:
The situation in Cleveland, Ohio is troubling, but it is not the only US diocese that is declining, although it is brutally anti-pastoral. When a pole sees the names on the casualty list: Hyacinth, Stanislaus, Casimir and two Hedwigs, he knows polish parishes are being extinguished.
The poles are the most numerous of east europeans in America, and so they are in Cleveland, but they are not alone in this predicament. In the diocesan towns of Cleveland, Akron, Lorain, and smaller ones, parishes have closed by episcopal ukase and fiat. The presence of magyar and slovak parishes are almost completely gone in the diocese.
The reasons being given for this course of action have been false on their own terms. They have also been fluid in change. Those reasons are not theological, they are business reasons. In America, when one clothes their plans in the language of business, they are accepted without consideration or question.
The real reasons are too crass, unpleasant, petty and mean to voice. These churches, their property, and furnishings are convertible to money. That money is desired [in part to pay for scandals, episcopal mismanagement]. Parishes are now expendable.
The other reason is very hurtful. Many american bishops have no respect, or affection, for the nations these parishes represent. Over an hundred years before, the byzantine (greek) catholics were pushed away from the latin-rite church. A Polish National Catholic Church was formed from similar circumstances.
We are not being accused of not being catholic enough. We are accused of not being 'american' enough, and it is accepted sub voce.
In Cleveland, the bishop is named Lennon. To the european ear, this sounds 'Lenin'. We all know 'Lenin' was no friend to christians. Some in the diocese say they live in Lennongrad. We know Leningrad became, once again, Saint Petersburg. Perhaps, Lennongrad will be Cleveland again.
Bishop Lennon is a hard man, without sentimentality. He has no poetry in his soul. A son of Hyacinth's parish became a cardinal. Karol Wojtyła prayed and preached at Casimir's. The bishop of Ljubljana spent his last eleven years at St. Lawrence. One of the Martyrs of El Salvador came from and taught at St. Robert's. This meant nothing to Lennon.
One of the many parishes appealing to Rome for recension of suppression, St. Peter's, has celebrated two Sunday Masses in rented quarters. Bishop Lennon has, codedly, threatened a blanket ex-communication.
Masses were held by christian communities against the will of governments since the beginning of our Faith. Nero did not want Peter to say Mass in Rome. In Cleveland, the bishop does not want St. Peter's to have Mass. He does not want the community, that parish is, to stay together. What pastor breaks up and scatters the flock?
Another parish, St. Casimir's, since they were evicted on 8 November 2009 (8 November 1917, Lenin took Russia), has met on the street before their dispossessed church every Sunday since. This summer, four other parishes are doing the same.
At St. Casimir they sing Mazurek Dąbrowskiego, "Jeszcze Polska nie zginęła" [Dabrowski's Mazurek, "Poland has not yet perished"]. It is an accident of language that the english for zginął, and parafii are pronounced identically--perish and parish. Some parishes will not perish. They refuse.
--24 August 2010