Friday, March 9, 2012

Vatican Orders 13 Closed Cleveland Parishes Reopened

All Things Considered:
HAGERTY: Turns out she was right. St. Patrick, along with a dozen other Cleveland churches, appealed to the Vatican. Now the Vatican is ordering Bishop Lennon to reopen those 13 churches closed by the diocese.
SINGLETON: I keep on pinching myself, like wow, this is really real. It really is true.
HAGERTY: The ruling from the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy was something of a smack down, says Peter Borre. He's an lawyer who advises congregations whose churches have been closed on how to appeal to the Vatican. Borre says it's the first time that Rome has ordered parishes to be fully reopened.
PETER BORRE: If you destroy the spiritual infrastructure of the Catholic Church in the United States, that's irreversible damage. You will never get those churches and those faith communities back. I think that's the driver.
HAGERTY: A spokesman for the Cleveland Diocese had no immediate comment. He says they need to study the document.
Over the past decade, Borre says, more than 1,500 parishes have been closed. Many have been sold off, 26 in Cleveland alone. But there are at least a dozen parishes around the country that are appealing to the Vatican, including several in Boston. Borre says the order should give them hope.
I think one of the real shames of the Catholic Church in the U.S. has been the abandonment of so many beautiful urban parishes built by poor immigrants prior to 1950.  Even worse, they have been replaced by massive, soulless fan-shaped travesties in the suburbs.  But that is just a part of the story of urban flight after the Great Migration took hold.  We still haven't stopped the rot at the heart of our center cities.  This decision may make a few folks happy, but as the elderly parishioners die off, it will continue to be extremely difficult to sustain these parishes, barring a massive migration back from the suburbs.

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