According to news reports, a Vatican office has taken the extraordinary step of overruling a bishop’s decision to close 13 parishes in his diocese. The Bishop of Cleveland, Richard Lennon, ordered the parishes closed as part of a diocesan downsizing three years ago. Parishioners challenged the closings as violations of canon law, and yesterday the Congregation for the Clergy, an office in the Roman Curia, ruled in their favor. According to the parishioners’ lawyer, the Congregation held that Bishop Lennon had failed to follow the canonical procedure for closing parishes, for example, by neglecting to consult clerical advisers and issue a formal decree. Bishop Lennon may now appeal to the Vatican’s high court. This week’s ruling is yet another example of the growing interest in canon-law litigation in the Catholic Church.
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