Pope has Special Meaning for Parishes

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CLEVELAND--  For people who belong to a dozen parishes in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, the papacy of Pope Benedict will always hold special significance.

On his watch, the Vatican reversed a decision by Bishop Richard Lennon and ordered the parishes reopened.

Bishop Lennon had closed them because of difficult finances in the diocese, as well as a shortage of priests.

Officially, the Congregation for the Clergy, an office at the Vatican that reports to the Pope, ordered the parishes reopened.

But some parishioners reached out to the Pope directly.

"We had the email to his office, and we wrote him handwritten letters," says Pat Schulte-Singleton, an activist and longtime member of St. Patrick's in West Park - one of the parishes that was reopened.

Schulte-Singleton says parishioners don't know if the Pope had any direct involvement in the decisions the Vatican took.

But, she adds that, "During this time, he was the Holy Father in charge of the church, and we are very appreciative that under his administration, we are reopened and we are doing quite well."

*Read more about the pope's resignation.