Monday, June 27, 2011

Classic negative example

For all but one closed parish, in the Cleveland Diocese, it has been a year since eviction. Some still are awaiting appeal from Rome. It has always been the last recourse for a Catholic to appeal to the Pope and his governance. This past Sunday marked one year since St. James, Lakewood, and St. Mary, Akron Ohio were dislodged. This Sunday was also Corpus Christi, it has been traditional for over seven hundred years to have an Eucharistic procession. The pastor at St. Bernard’s (the parish that St. Mary's was merged into) officiated at an outdoor Mass and procession at St. Mary’s. St. James had their weekly prayer vigil, and took note of the year that has passed. More than fifty came, and near two hundred at St. Mary's.
The author of their troubles is Richard Lennon, who did the same for Boston, previously. Boston will have a second round of reconfiguration, and the archdiocese publicly realises how bad things were the first time. Now 17% of The archdiocesan’s Catholics attend Mass. The chancery says it is “absolutely clear that the archdiocese is not going to be closing churches from above”. They learned from Lennon’s mistakes, they will just not call it that.

The Torinese newspaper, La Stampa,* writes that the Congregation for the Clergy and others has a document to be released “dedicated to the reorganization of American dioceses”. The cause of which was the settlement payments of the sex scandals.
“A ‘classic’ negative example of the reorganisation linked to the economic problems is that of Cleveland, where the Holy See has decided to send an apostolic visit, or rather, an investigation to look into whether the decisions taken by the Bishop Ordinary Gerard Lennon were adequate. He announced that 29 parishes will close and another 41 will be merged. The restructuring plan which will cut 52 parishes out of 224 is already in effect. Other cities in which word about closure has been heard are Camden, New Jersey, Allentown, Pennsylvania and New York City. The reasons that prompted the decision to close parishes in Cleveland have been the flow of population to outlying areas, the financial difficulties that have seen 42% of parish budgets finish in the red and the shortage of priests. Now this last point is questioned by the Vatican and the apostolic visit will serve to ascertain the facts. The Vatican has asked Lennon to stop his policy of savage cuts. In Boston, amongst many other controversies, he closed 60 parishes. So far the Vatican has not had any luck.”
The United States has nearly 200 dioceses. There is more than 180 countries in the world. There then are a lot of examples to point out. Lennon is the example of what not to do.

On the 18th of June, the Holy Office’s Promoter of Justice, Monsignor Charles Scicluna talked to the press about the abuse crisis. The following question was asked:
Q: And when the bishops are not good shepherds, what can be done?
Scicluna said, in response, “each faithful has the right to express his concern about the diocese directly to the Holy See, through the nuncio.” This principle is not about just this grave, horrible sexual abuse scandal. It is an absolute principle.

The highest echelons of the Church knows things are bad. They are slow to respond. They know people have the right to complain. Things may be addressed, but parishioners need to carefully and repeatedly state their concerns. There is much inertia that has to be overcome. Past problems may not be repaired, but something can be done.
*La Stampa has the third largest circulation in Italy. It is from Turin (Torino), owned by the Agnelli family, who also own Fiat.

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