Sunday, March 29, 2009

CNN covers church closures in Cleveland

Roman Catholic parishioners in Cleveland, Ohio, are now facing the closure of their churches. CNN covers these events in an item, Catholic faithful face church closures, by Jessica Ravitz. The article states the facts, putting the closures in a context of similar closures across the nation and a decline in affiliated members noted by the recent Pew Forum Survey. The article includes remarks from Bishop Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland, Sr. Christine Schenk of FutureChurch and Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes. Salient quotes:

""Too many bishops are treating parishes as if they were Starbucks franchises," said Sister Christine Schenk, a Cleveland-area nun who's been fighting for nearly two decades to institute change in the church through her organization FutureChurch.

"It's about more than money. It's about mission to the people," she said. "This isn't what Jesus would do."

The Rev. Bob Begin of Saint Colman couldn't agree more.

"The founder of our church started his mission by saying, 'I came to bring good news to the poor,'" said Begin, who described his parish as serving about 1,300 people in a community where the average income is below $20,000.

Saint Colman, which is slated to merge with another parish elsewhere, gets daily knocks on its doors from nearby residents, many of them immigrants from 25 different countries, who are in need of all kinds of assistance, he said.

"If this parish weren't involved in bringing good news to the poor, I would not spend a lick of energy trying to keep it open," the pastor said. "But because it is bringing good news to the poor, then I have a responsibility to guard and defend this mission against anyone who threatens it."

His parish and others affected by the recent announcement had until 5 p.m. Friday to file an appeal with the diocese. According to The Plain Dealer, which conducted a survey of the parishes, at least 11 had filed as of Friday morning. The diocese itself refused to comment on numbers."

The site also includes video of parishioners' responses:

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