Cleveland Area Churches Unlikely to Reopen by Easter

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CLEVELAND --  A Vatican decree issued last month had called for 13 closed Cleveland area churches to be reopened.

Parishioners of those churches had hoped they would be able to hold Easter Sunday mass once again inside their churches.  But as of Friday, it was highly doubtful that would happen.

Bishop Richard Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland has said he and advisers are reviewing the decree.

Bruce Godfray is a former parishioner of St. James Church in Lakewood, where his mother has been a member for more than 60 years.

He had hoped Bishop Lennon would have complied with the Vatican ruling in time for Easter services.

"It's the holiest day of the year. It would have been such a great sign from the Bishop to have one of these churches open for Easter.  It would have shown he was a great partner going forward with the change," Godfray said.

In a letter dated March 27, Bishop Lennon said that the Vatican decree "is a very complex matter with no easy or perfect solution."

But Joseph Feckanin, who has been fighting to get St. Casimir Church on Cleveland's east side reopened, said the decree is clear that it is instructing Bishop Lennon and the Diocese to reopen the parishes.

"What's in his heart, we don't know.  We can only pray for him that he will listen to Rome. Obey Rome," Feckanin said.

Prayer services have been held outside St. Casimir's since the church closed in November of 2009.

Feckanin said the group fighting to save their church will be back on Sunday for their own Easter service.

"We're still going to be here every Sunday until this church is opened. We're not giving up," he added.

Bishop Lennon has until mid-May to decide whether to appeal the Vatican ruling.