Vatican Overturns Decision of Cleveland Catholic Diocese to Close Local Parishes

According to the attorney representing 13 local parishes fighting to stay open and leading a legal battle against the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, the Vatican has overturned the closing of the parishes.

Attorney Peter Borre says that the ruling was handed down by the Congregation of the Clergy last week. Borre adds that the clergy showed that Bishop Richard Lennon did not follow the proper procedure in closing the parishes back in 2009, and said:

“Bishop Lennon would be well advised to hurry up on down and open these churches immediately."

In March 2009, Bishop Lennon announced that 52 parishes would be closed or merged. Lennon says that such a drastic step needed to be taken due to a significant decline in parishioners and a shortage of priests.

Borre says that even he was surprised by the ruling:

“This is the first case in 20 years where a Bishop has been reversed on this type of legal mater. The Bishop can appeal but this time he will not be facing off against parishioners and members of a local congregation. He will be facing the Congregation of the Clergy.”

A spokesman for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, Bob Tayek, says that they've yet to receive any official notification on a ruling and cannot respond at this time.

Photo: St. Patrick's Church in Westpark, one of the parishes ordered to close in 2009.