CLEVELAND — Members of a Cleveland church that was ordered closed have defied their Roman Catholic bishop with a Mass celebrated in a warehouse by a priest on leave.
Several hundred people attended Sunday’s service led by Rev. Robert Marrone. His congregation at the closed St. Peter Church had been warned by Bishop Richard Lennon to avoid setting up a breakaway church.
Members upset by the closing describe themselves as traditional Catholics challenging the shutdown, not their faith. The bishop says a renegade congregation can lead to disunity.
The eight-county Cleveland diocese has closed or merged 50 parishes, blaming declining numbers of priests, parishioners and finances. [Source]
Because it is traditional to disobey your bishop and to have Mass in a warehouse.
There have been multiple instances of this type of behavior throughout the country where people are more attached to their parish then they are to the Church. I can certainly understand the pain when a parish closes for people who have a deep attachment to that parish. But ultimately the local Bishop gets to make these decisions even if you think his reasoning for closing a parish is faulty. In many cases it is simply because of demographic shifts and sometimes possibly for less than stelar reasons. The parishioners of some more traditional parishes slated for closure have felt that the reason for closure was because it was a more traditional parish. There have also been cases of parishioners petitioning Rome to overturn a closing. The Vatican though has always responded by siding with the local ordinary and it is hard to imagine a case where this would not be so.
If you are obedient only when it suits you then you are not obedient. We have to be obedient to our local Bishop even when we prudently disagree with him. When I was in the military I learned I had to obey a lawful order from an officer regardless of what I thought of that officer or the order. The same goes here in that a lawful order from a bishop which would be one that does not contravene either the moral or Church law should be followed. During the period of time when they are considering a parish closing is the time to try to convince the bishop otherwise in a respectful manner. Sure it is a tragedy that a church in 1853 and the oldest church building in continuous use in the Diocese of Cleveland has been closed down. It is a greater tragedy for the priest and parishioners of this closed down parish to act in such a way.