Bishop Richard Lennon of Cleveland wrote a letter to parishioners today stating the reopening of 13 shuttered churches is still under consideration. It’s his first public response to the Vatican’s reversal of his church-closing decision. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu has the story.
Bishop Lennon received orders from the Vatican two weeks ago to reopen the closed churches, but says he has “not yet formulated a decision” as to when—or if—worshipers will fill the pews of those churches again. In the letter to priests and parishioners he says, “this is a very complex matter with no easy or perfect solution.”
Robert Tayek, a spokesperson for the Diocese, elaborated in an interview with WCPN.
Tayek: “The same issues which required the closings of these parishes still exist. Parishioners have migrated away from the parishes. That’s resulted in continued decline in attendance and membership. The financial pressures of operating the parishes still remain.”
Tayek adds that the orders from the Vatican do not state a specific date by which the Bishop should re-open the churches, but gives him until May 13th to appeal to the Vatican’s supreme court. In his letter, Lennon says, quoting now, “I can assure you this is not nearly as clear-cut as it may appear on the surface.”
Patricia Schulte-Singleton is a longtime member of St. Patrick Church and acting spokesperson for the displaced congregation. She says with Easter coming up next week, a major Catholic holiday…
Singleton: “The delays in his discernment are a little bit troubling.”
Singleton says she’s prepared to escalate the congregation’s concerns to a higher level.
Singleton: “We are formulating our next action.”
Lennon is consulting with church law experts and clergy members, including a meeting planned for Friday. Singleton says she and other critics are counting on the priests to help the Bishop make a decision.