Often in the ancient church there were disputes. Groups would often separate, sometimes in schisms, sometimes in heresies. North Africa had several such incidents. Addressing one such occurrence, Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, preached a sermon at Carthage in September 417. In it he said, "Roma Locuta Est, Causa Finita Est. (Rome has spoken. The dispute [cause] is finished.)".
Here, to-day, we have a dispute (parish closings) and Rome has spoken (through formal decrees). If Richard Lennon doesn't enact the directives, will he be in separation from the Roman Catholic Church? Will, then, Clevelanders choose to remain Roman Catholics or become Lennonists?
If one reads, with just a little attention and discernment, one realises Rome has said the entire process employed by Lennon was invalid, and illicit, and not just in the thirteen cases. But the decrees were not written, primarily, to Lennon, they were written to every bishop contemplating the same manœveurs. Before these were sent, last year, the Italian press was told that Cleveland, and Lennon were '"classic" negative example' of what not to do. Further, Lennon's activities were just as bad at his previous post in Boston. [note to bishops: do not attempt a 'lennon']
What they [the decrees] say in particular about Lennon is most unflattering. The documents point out the capriciousness, and invalidity of Lennon. They also find him deaf, and unreceptive to correction. A further, so far unstated, idea is that Lennon is not competent to be a bishop. Read this canon lawyer's twenty-three page analysis of one typical decree.
But Lennon has his supporters. He set the terms of debate early, and it was meant for public consumption; and it has not been refuted by the press. It has been demolished by Rome [as it must be].
It is easy to find individuals that still support the Lennonist position, which fits perfectly well in the US, capitalist, business, management model of to-day. Of course this is not historical, traditional, biblical, canonical Catholicity. But for these Lennonists that makes no need to change opinion. They display either a complete ignorance of the particulars, or they are absolute episcopal partisans, incapable of stepping out of their bunker, and they show contempt of parishioners equivalent to class snobbery. They seem to be ignorant of, or opposed to, the fact the Church is made up of all the baptised, and not of bishops alone.
In this greater issue, i see two points of debate/conflict: have the words of Matthew xviii. 20, "For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them" been abrogated in the contemporary American church?; is the episcopal power within a diocese equivalent to that of faro in Egypt, wherein the bishop and faro are the only citizens in their realm, and are absolute despots? Now, that last part would indicate that every bishop has the right to create a schism, and if that is furthered, does every bishop have the right to be a heresiarch? Rome will say, 'No'. That will be the point where Lennon will be removed, if he does not comply.
newest image on Carnegie billboard, west of E. 14th
But Cleveland may be the American Rubicon. What has been achieved in Cleveland has saved parishes that will not know they were saved. Episcopal accountability has come to parish suppression. Canon law which speaks of parish perpetuity being subject to episcopal alteration, will not be carte blanche for the transition of church properties to profane use [sale]. There is some sacrosanct character to the churches, and this will permit Catholics to carry on their spiritual lives in their ancestral temples. Tuesday in Holy Week [this year 3 April] is the day when Jesus said in Jerusalem, as he was driving out those trafficking in commerce, "My house is the house of prayer. But you have made it a den of thieves."*
postscriptum: an equivalent phrase for 'Rome has spoken' is the 'fat lady has sung'.
*Luke xix. 46.