Feb 16, 2011

Springfield Diocese releases statement on church closing appeals


 

REGIONAL


Our Lady of Hope Church, Springfield (Iobserve file photo)

Staff report

SPRINGFIELD – The Springfield Diocese has released an official statement on the results of church closing appeals that were publicized by members of several parishes yesterday.

The statement clarifies the decisions made by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy regarding five parishes in three cities. The statement also notes that Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect for the congregation, has apologized to Springfield Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell for failing to present the decisions to the diocese before their public release.

The complete text of the statement follows:

STATEMENT OF THE SPRINGFIELD DIOCESE ON CHURCH CLOSING APPEALS

The Diocese of Springfield has now received official notification on five appeals which were under consideration by the Congregation for the Clergy. These decisions involve St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Adams; Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Chicopee; St. George Parish, Chicopee; St. Patrick Parish, Chicopee; and Our Lady of Hope Parish, Springfield.

In the matter of Our Lady of Hope Parish, Springfield, the congregation has upheld the decision by Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell to amalgamate that parish into the new Mary, Mother of Hope Parish also in Springfield.

In the matter of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, Chicopee, the congregation has upheld the decision by Bishop McDonnell both to amalgamate that parish into the Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Chicopee and allowed its closing as a place of worship. It should be noted that subsequently the bishop has allowed the Assumption Church to reopen temporarily while structural concerns at nearby Holy Name of Jesus Church are investigated. It is currently open as the place of worship for Holy Name of Jesus Parish.

In the matters of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, Adams; St. George Parish, Chicopee; and St. Patrick Parish, Chicopee the Congregation has upheld the decision by Bishop McDonnell to amalgamate those parishes, St. Stanislaus into Pope John Paul the Great Parish and both St. George and St. Patrick into the Holy Name of Jesus Parish, Chicopee.  In these three instances, however, the Congregation has indicated that, in its judgment, sufficiently grave reason was not provided to close each of these church buildings and that they should be used in some manner as determined by the bishop. It has to be stressed that in each instance the parish itself is not being reestablished and that any permitted use of the building will not be the same as when it was a parish church.

In the case of these three churches the congregation seems to be undertaking a new application of church law. For example, it should be noted the circumstances in these three cases was consistent with the diocesan reasoning in the case of the Assumption Church for which the congregation did uphold closure of the church. Because of these factors the bishop is seeking immediate clarification from the Vatican as well as through canon lawyers. 

The diocese also has received a request for additional information from the congregation, but no decision, regarding an appeal by former parishioners at St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Northampton.

Finally, late yesterday the prefect for the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, issued an apology to Bishop McDonnell for having failed to provide the diocese with these decisions in advance of their public release.