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Catholics Work to Keep Parishes Open

Hungarian Government Joins Appeal to Save Cleveland Parish

In December, US Representative Dennis Kucinich met with an aide to Hungarian Prime Minister Gordon Bajnai to discuss St. Emeric church, a 105-year-old parish that has been ordered closed as part of downsizing by the Cleveland Diocese. Shortly after the meeting Bajnai sent his appeal letter to Rome. According to Bela Szombati, the Hungarian ambassador to the U.S. he has not yet received a response. The vibrant ethnic church has more than 600 registered members, celebrates Masses in both Hungarian and English, and has Hungarian language classes and various cultural programs. A spokesman for the Cleveland diocese had no immediate comment. (Cleveland Plain Dealer 2/19/10)

Clevelanders Prompt Historic Landmark Protection, Financial Disclosure

At press time, there were reports that, after extensive consultation In late January Cleveland's Landmarks Commission recommended that six more Catholic churches be designated as historical city landmarks, which would give them some protection against demolition or structural changes. They would be added to a list of 31 Catholic churches designated as Landmarks. The Cleveland Catholic Diocese, which is in the process of closing 50 parishes, opposes the designations that City Council will now consider adopting through legislation.

The Cleveland protest group "Endangered Catholics” was surprised by a recent statement from Bishop Richard Lennon indicating that assets from suppressed parishes could follow parishioners to their new parish. Originally, people believed that the assets would go to the diocese. But diocesan spokesperson Robert Tayek said that if a congregation or part of a congregation of a suppressed parish moves to another parish, the assets or a portion of the assets would go with the people to their new parish even though a canonical merger had not occurred. Lennon's remarks were made in response to public protests at the closing Mass of Akron Sacred Heart parish at which he was officiating.

Camden Catholics Sue Diocese

Diocese Almost 300 members of St. Vincent Pallotti parish have sued the Camden Diocese, seeking to retrieve more than $1 million in donations made before the diocese announced a controversial merger plan for their parish. Parishioners also received a letter from the Congregation for the Clergy saying they may pursue their appeal challenging the diocese's plan to merge their vibrant 900-family parish with another smaller parish. The group organized after Bishop Joseph Galante announced he would close half of Camden's 124 parishes.

Toledo Diocese To Twin Ten More Parishes

The Diocese of Toledo announced in mid-February that it will "twin” ten parishes as a way of coping with the priest shortage. "We're trying not to do the closures because of the trauma that's involved with that,” said Sister Joyce Lehman, secretariat leader for pastoral leadership. With this system of twin parishes, one pastor will care for two parishes while each church retains its own identity and ministries. In 2005, the diocese downsized from 165 to 132 parishes, closing 17, merging 14 parishes into 6, and twinning 52 parishes. Dan Thiel, president of United Parishes, an organization created after 2005's closings, said: "Our concern is that what they do is they start twinning those parishes and they later turn around and close them, and they shut the community out of the process.” Thiel's organization will discuss the diocese's plan at its monthly meeting.

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2010


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