Sunday, March 22, 2009

What parish would a committee close?

I am a constitutionalist, and we know constitutions are not respected much in the US, these days. Besides, the revealed Law of God, the church has a body of canon law. In canon law, it is very difficult to suppress, or to make extinct a parish. The episcopacy in the US has made it too easy. The bishop's advisers, by canon law, are his college of priests (presbyteral council). There is no official rôle for a cluster committee. Canonically, it is equivalent of three parishioners chatting over coffee. It was an ad hoc creation. Once its task is done, it goes out of existence.

A parish is a juridic person, when once created, is meant to be perpetual. The term "juridic person" is similar in concept to a "corporation" being a public person in US law. A parish, by nature, as recognised, in canon law is meant to continue.

You may posit a cluster committee as an organ to engage the parishes in decision, or you may posit it as a public relations vehicle to defuse a feeling of helplessness. Each parish has a personality, as do people, and a collection of either will have a social dynamic. It is politics. In that particular grouping, where the vote was reported in a Cleveland Plain Dealer article, the chances of Saint Stephen* emerging as one of the three to survive, was zero. In the discussions, Saint Stephen's position was not heard. There was a fait accompli, a priori, ab initio.

I believe Saint Colman's should remain open, but the vote of a biased, and non-binding committee should not be its justification. The first thing that was "agreed on" was, that, two parishes were untouchable, Our Lady of Mount Carmel (West) and La Sagrada Familia. There, that, was the game unfolding. Then the next part of the agenda was to push, that, the remaining rationale to be: social outreach as the criterion for the third slot.
My contention is that it was fixed.

A parish fulfills many functions, but by definition, a parish is an aggregate of believers. Its primary function is to celebrate its common faith in the sacraments instituted by Jesus Christ. God so loved the world, that he sent His Son, not a committee. Now, there was some favorable press coverage, concerning Saint Stephen, before the official announcements. Saint Stephen's should stay open. The bishop's decision was for the two parishes to merge at the site of Stephen's.

Now, there is seems to be a campaign of: say yes to us, and no to them. All parishes should want to continue, no parish should wish another not to. A charitable response would have had no hint of animus. Reliance on a committee with private agendas, or self-defining whom is the fittest, or most worthy vis-à-vis another, should not go unchallenged. Such arguments are manipulatively self-serving, and are meant to disguise a turf war. Saint Colman, seems to be, the only irish parish effected in the diocese, and Stephen's is the only remaining, nationality german parish. Some have wrongly suggested, that, Colman's was discriminated against, on the account of being an irish parish. Have they overlooked, nearby, Saint Malachi? and Saint Patrick (Bridge Ave.)? and other parishes in the diocese?

The 1300 figure (cited in the article) comes on Saint Patrick's Day alone.
The mass celebrated on that day at Colman's was more akin to a rally. Before the mass began, the pastor continued his campaign. He is a lawyer, and shewed he can construct an argument. Now, that being so, St. Colman's is the irish cathedral in the diocese; and beyond that a functioning parish of christian concerns. And so is Saint Procop's, that also had no chance.
Addendum: This evil game was to get to be one of the three of the five. Who chose the rules? Richard Lennon.

All these parishes should remain open. The bishop, Richard Lennon, so engendered this horrid process so as to have people at each other's throats. This death lottery was his evil tool. He is not a man with original thoughts, or inspiration. Where did he learn of this idea?
*postscriptum: It may also have been, that the delegation from Saint Stephen's badly reflected on the parish.

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