Parishioners Rejoice as Vatican Overrules Church Closings

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LAKEWOOD, Ohio -- At St. James Church in Lakewood, parishioners said their prayers have been answered.

The Vatican overturned the closings of 13 Cleveland-area parishes, according to the attorney who led a legal fight against their doors being shut for good.

According to attorney Peter Borre, the ruling was handed down by the Congregation of the Clergy last week.

Borre tells Fox 8 News’ Kevin Freeman, the clergy showed that Bishop Richard Lennon did not follow proper procedure in closing the parishes in 2009.

“Bishop Lennon would be well advised to hurry up on down and open these churches immediately,” said Borre.

St. James closed in June of 2010.

On Wednesday, parishioners gathered outside the church.

“We’re just totally thrilled and we can’t wait to get inside our church and worship our Heavenly Father in this beautiful building,” said Toni Sabo.

“I think it’s wonderful, it’s the power of prayer, they listen to us, and realized that something was wrong and they’re trying to rectify it,” added Joseph Dwyer.

“I kind of had a feeling that it wasn’t going to be forever, when we walked out those doors and it’s not and we’re just so excited!” said Jolene Simon.

In March of 2009 Lennon announced that 52 parishes would be closed or merged.

The drastic step, according to Lennon, was taken because of a large decline in parishioners and a shortage of priests.

The ruling comes as a surprise, even to Borre.

“This is the first case in 20 years where a Bishop has been reversed on this type of legal matter,” said Borre, adding that an appeal by Lennon is possible.

“The Bishop can appeal but this time he will not be facing off against parishioners and members of a local congregation. He will be facing the Congregation of the Clergy.”

Bob Tayek, spokesperson for the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, says the organization has yet to formally receive any notification on the ruling from the Vatican so they cannot respond at this time.

The organization Endangered Catholics says that the lists of parishes which will be reopening is as followed:

  • Saint Adalbert, Cleveland
  • Saint Barbara, Cleveland
  • Saint Casmir, Cleveland
  • Saint Emeric, Cleveland
  • Saint Patrick, Cleveland
  • Historic Saint Peter, Cleveland
  • Saint Wendelin, Cleveland
  • Saint James, Lakewood
  • Saint Margaret Mary, South Euclid
  • Saint Mary, Bedford
  • Saint John the Baptist, Akron
  • Saint Martha, Akron (wants to retain name only and not reopen)
  • Saint Mary, Akron
  • Saint Mary, Lorain (originally on the list but since removed)
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