Future of Priest Leaves Future of Church in Doubt

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CLEVELAND -- The Diocese of Cleveland will reopen St. Peter's church near downtown later this summer, although the priest who headed the church has been effectively suspended.

That leaves in doubt how many former parishioners will attend the church, and if it will be enough to keep the doors open.

After the diocese closed St. Peter's on Easter Sunday 2010, about 300 members of the church formed a breakaway parish at a warehouse at East 71st Street and Euclid Avenue.

They have been holding worship services there, led by Father Bob Marrone, who was the priest at St. Peter's.

Bishop Richard Lennon has now ruled that Father Marrone's actions in holding services puts him outside the communion of the church.

The diocese says it will follow a Vatican decree to reopen St. Peter's and 11 other churches, but that those parishes must be able to stand on their own financially as other parishes do if they are to remain open.

"We are all interested in the decrees, and what the bishop's intentions are," says Bob Kloos, a member of the Community of St. Peter, the breakaway parish. "But we're not going to stop what we're doing."

Meaning, they continue to plan to worship at the warehouse with Father Marrone leading them.

Father Marrone said in an email that he won't have any public comment until he speaks to his congregation Monday night.

He said in a letter to the congregation that he intends to remain their pastor and will not have any part in what he terms the "supposed reopening" of St. Peter's.

Robert Tayek, a spokesman for the diocese, says all the churches must be able to sustain their finances and an "active ministry" to remain open long-term.

It's not clear if another parishioners will choose to go back to St. Peter's to allow it to sustain itself.

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