Vatican Orders 13 Northeast Ohio Churches To Reopen

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St. Patrick's Church in Cleveland.(Photo: St. Patrick's)
St. Patrick's Church in Cleveland.(Photo: St. Patrick's)

The Vatican has reversed the decision of Cleveland’s Catholic Bishop to close 13 Northeast Ohio churches.

Three years ago, Bishop Richard Lennon closed or “reconfigured” dozens of parishes in Greater Cleveland, citing economic necessity and a shortage of priests. Thirteen of those churches appealed the closings to the Vatican, under the guidance of Boston lawyer Peter Borre, a nationally known expert on challenging church closings.

Borre says, last week, the high court in Rome ruled in favor of the Cleveland parishioners.

“This is a shut-out for Lennon. He was reversed on all 13 Cleveland appeals,” Borre says.

Which means, according to Borre, that Rome says the closings were illegal.

“The next thing he must do is reopen those churches. He has 60 days to think about what he’s going to do if he wants a to appeal these decrees to the Vatican Supreme Court.”

Borre says the reversal of a Bishop’s decision is extremely rare.

Cleveland Diocese spokesperson Bob Tayek would only say that documents from Rome were received Wednesday, and will be examined Thursday.

“The Bishop will get together with the canon lawyers — meaning church lawyers — and they’ll look very carefully at the documents. We need to identify exactly what they were and what they say before there can be any response,” Tayek says.

Marika Megyimori had a simple response when she heard that her church might be re-opened

“I cried.”

Megyimori is a parishioner of St. Emeric’s, one of the thirteen who took their case to the Vatican. And while she’s hopeful about the future of her church, Megyimori hasn’t seen the details of the message from Rome

“We have to be cautious, because we really don’t know what was in the letter from the Vatican and what needs to be done from this point.”

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