Catholic Diocese of Cleveland Bishop Richard G. Lennon said Wednesday he has received documents from the Vatican concerning his orders to close 13 parishes.
“As indicated in my previous statement, I promised to inform you when I had received from the Vatican Congregation for Clergy decrees associated with parish appeals. The decrees arrived on Wednesday, March 14, 2012. The process to review these rulings will now be undertaken with my advisors,” Lennon said in a prepared statement.
The documents arrived a week after Peter Borre, a Boston activist who has fought the closing of churches in the Cleveland diocese, told the Associated Press the Congregation of the Clergy had ruled Lennon did not follow proper procedures in the closings of 13 parishes that appealed their suppressions and the closing of their churches.
Since then, Borre and other critics of the closings have called for the bishop to move quickly in restoring the 13 affected parishes. They contend that, although Lennon has 60 days from the receipt of the Vatican documents to appeal, the congregations cannot be denied access to their church buildings.
The 13 parishes, which include St. Mary's and St. John the Baptist in Akron, were among 50 closed or merged between August 2009 and June 2010 as part of a diocesan-wide restructuring plan to address dwindling attendance and finances and a worsening priest shortage.
Borre said he is hopeful Lennon will release a list of the parishes affected by the Vatican rulings. He said correspondence would be sent to the bishop and only the parishioners who appealed to the Vatican.
“There is still some uncertainty about which parishes are involved. I have only seen the rulings for three: St. Patrick’s [Cleveland], St. James [Lakewood] and St. Casmir [Cleveland]. Beyond that, it’s a guessing game,” Borre said Wednesday. “It would be helpful if the diocese would publish the names of the parishes.”
Robert Tayek, spokesman for the diocese, said it is not likely that any information will be released until the bishop reviews the documents.
Parishioners from St. John’s and St. Mary’s who were contacted by the Beacon Journal on Wednesday had not received letters from the Vatican.
Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, said she is still urging Lennon to sit down with parishioners from the affected parishes to formulate a plan for reopening.
“The timing of the reopenings would probably vary from parish to parish,” Schenk said. “My hope and expectation is that the bishop will see the wisdom in the Vatican’s decision and the wisdom in expediting this process.
‘‘With the assumption of goodwill on everyone’s part, this can be done.”
Medina, Summit and Wayne are among the eight counties in the diocese.
Colette Jenkins can be reached at 330-996-3731 or firstname.lastname@example.org.