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Cleveland Bishop Lennon not appealing Vatican ruling to reopen a dozen closed parishes
Process of reopening the churches in early stages, and no timeline is being given

Kevin Niedermier
Bishop Richard Lennon announces he's not appealing a Vatican ruling that overturns his closing of 12 churches.
Courtesy of Kevin Niedermier
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In The Region:
Congregations at a dozen Cleveland Catholic Diocese churches are celebrating.They were among 50 parishes closed by Bishop Richard Lennon due to dwindling money, priests and parishioners. The twelve churches appealed to the Vatican and won. Today Lennon announced he will not fight the Vatican’s decision. As WKSU’s Kevin Niedermier reports…the bishop says it’s time for the diocese to start healing.
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In reversing the closings, the Vatican said Bishop Lennon did not follow church laws and procedures. He got the news from Rome about a month ago, and had 60 days to decide if he’d appeal. Lennon says after consulting with lay people, other clergy and church law experts, he decided to follow the Vatican’s ruling. He believes another year battling over the closings would add too much damage.


Lennon:  “What I said I meant, that peace be with you, and now is the time to aim for peace and unity in our Catholic family. To prolong this with people not feeling their at home in any parish community is not a desired effect. So in that sense my hope is that people will get into the reopening of these parishes and take it forward.”


Lennon says the problems that led to the closings continue. The closed parishes are primarily in the inner cities and older suburbs of Cleveland and Akron. Lennon has met with the few available priests who could lead the reopened churches, but says some may have to serve two parishes. And he didn’t rule out bringing back a program to train deacons and lay people to run parishes. Lennon says the diocese will help the reopening churches get reestablished, but no financial support will be provided. The bishop describes how the process will begin.


Lennon:  “One will be an evaluation of the 12 parishes, and to look at them as to what order we may begin to go forward with them. The other thing will be to get a full report from the meeting where certain priest’s names were identified for my consideration.”



Lennon says it’s too early to say exactly when the parishes will reopen because so many unknowns remain.


Lennon:  “It won’t be a year, could it be a of couple months, yes it could. But again, all I said was it could be, not that it would be. For everyone’s sake we would like to have it start, we’re not trying to dilly dally, but we do have to do it right. If we don’t do it right we could very well be blamed for not cooperating.”


Congregations of the affected churches celebrated the news. They include Pat Shulte-Singleton a parishioner at St. Patrick’s in Cleveland.


Singleton:  “I have 3 daughter, first communion, 2 were baptized there, all their confirmations were there. Hopefully they’ll be married there now.”


Schulte-Singleton helped lead the fight to re-open her church and the others that appealed to the Vatican. She’s happy Lennon decided not to appeal, and says it was in his best interest, and the best interest of the diocese. But she’s not sure how the healing process will go.


Singleton:  “I will say that you always have hope and faith. You can only move forward in a positive way. But we still have to see the particulars on the restoration and the reopening. And I think in checking with the other parishes, each parish is unique, how that will be implemented and how quickly that will be has raised questions after the press conference today.”


Bishop Lennon says he has no plans now to close anymore of the diocese’s 174 parishes. But he warns that if any of these churches become unstable, including the one that are reopening, they risk being closed.






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