March 19, 2012

A Vatican congregation has overturned the closing of 13 parishes in the Diocese of Cleveland and said the churches must be restored for worship, a person involved with the cases said.

The ruling reverses some of the closings ordered by Bishop Richard Lennon since 2009 under a diocesan-wide reconfiguration plan.

The Congregation for Clergy's ruling in support of parishioners who appealed the closings is a rare instance, explained Peter Borre, a leader with the Council of Parishes in Boston, who has been advising parish groups nationwide on their appeals.

Decrees released by parishioners of two parishes March 8 cited two canons that require a bishop to consult with his diocesan council of priests prior to taking any action to suppress a parish or close a church building.

The congregation ruled that Lennon did not adhere to those requirements.