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Saturday, July 23, 2011

Pray for the good Catholics of Cleveland.

From Cleveland.com:

Cleveland Catholics abuzz over Vatican investigation of Bishop Richard Lennon


CLEVELAND, Ohio -- After the recent revelation that Bishop Richard Lennon's leadership of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is under investigation by the Vatican, local Catholics are abuzz about what might happen next.

But with a shroud of secrecy hanging over the inquiry church activists can only guess.

The Rev. John M. Smith, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., representing the Vatican, spent five days at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma beginning July 11 interviewing priests and parishioners about how they perceive Lennon as a spiritual leader.

Such an investigation, known as an Apostolic Visit, is rare by the Holy See, according to at least one lawyer familiar with church law. The review, which Lennon has said he requested, comes in the wake of his reconfiguration of the eight-county diocese which saw the closing of 50 churches since August 2009.

Most were inner-city or ethnic churches, prompting protests and a flurry of letters to the Catholic hierarchy in Rome. More than a dozen parishes filed formal appeals to a Vatican panel and are waiting for verdicts.

One congregation, St. Peter's in downtown Cleveland, in defiance of Lennon's order to disband, broke away from the diocese and, along with its priest, set up its own worship space in a commercial building.

It wasn't clear how many people Smith interviewed during his week-long visit. Sister Mary Ann Flannery, director of the retreat house, estimated 25 to 30 people met with the New Jersey bishop.

Retired Cleveland Bishop Anthony Pilla declined to say whether he met with Smith, saying only, "He met with a number of people."

It also was not clear whether Smith is finished with his inquiry or whether he will continue it long-distance with phone interviews.

Neither Smith nor officials from the Trenton diocese returned phone calls or responded to emailed questions.

A spokesman for the Cleveland diocese said it had no further comment on Smith's visit.

Apostolic visitations are extremely rare, according to Nick Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer and dean emeritus at Duquesne University Law School in Pittsburgh. The last visitation in the United States was in Seattle in 1983, he said.

It is also rare, said Cafardi, for a bishop to call for a visitation. "That's like calling an air strike on yourself," he said.

Two people interviewed by Smith, Patricia Singleton of the closed St. Patrick's in West Park, and Miklos Peller of the closed St. Emeric's on Cleveland's Near West Side, pleaded for the reopening of their parishes.

Both said they found the New Jersey bishop to be receptive and concerned.

Peller said Smith shook his head in disbelief when he told him that Lennon closed six out of seven Hungarian churches in the diocese: Holy Trinity in Barberton; Sacred Heart of Jesus in Akron; Sacred Heart of Jesus in Elyria; St. Ladislaus in Lorain; St. Emeric in Cleveland and St. Margaret of Hungary in Orange.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary in Cleveland remains open.

Peller said that at the end of his hour-long interview, Smith asked him: "In spite of all that has happened, can you still accept him as your bishop?"

Peller said he answered: "No. There's not much hope for that."

The diocese said in its news release announcing the visit that there was no timetable for Smith to submit his findings to the Vatican.

FutureChurch, a national organization based in Lakewood that's working for reform within the church, issued a statement calling on the Vatican to make Smith's findings public.

But the organization's director, Sister Christine Schenk, said she doubts that will happen.

Still she praised the Vatican hierarchy for conducting the visitation. "They don't do these things if there's not an issue," said Schenk. "I think there are problems with the leadership here and the Vatican is attending to them. That's a good thing."

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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