National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Bp. Lennon seeks to meet breakaway Catholics

CLEVELAND — Bishop Richard Lennon wants to meet with the priest and lay leaders of a breakaway congregation to try to bring them back into the fold, a spokesman for the diocese said Aug. 16.

The Diocese of Cleveland was reacting to an unauthorized Mass celebrated Sunday by the Rev. Robert Marrone and about 350 communicants in leased commercial space they set up as a church, independent of the diocese.

Diocese spokesman Robert Tayek said Lennon "has an obligation, as shepherd of the diocese, to try and reach out to these folks in the hopes of keeping them in communion with the church."

Leaders of the new Community of St. Peter, facing possible excommunication for disobeying the bishop, have stressed that they still consider themselves practicing Roman Catholics, but disagree with the diocese over the closing of their church, St. Peter, in downtown Cleveland.

When Lennon announced in March 2009 that he was mothballing the 151-year-old St. Peter's as part of a downsizing plan, parishioners began considering other options to stay together.

Eventually, they organized a nonprofit corporation -- the Community of St. Peter -- and raised money to lease space in a century-old building downtown.

envelope-gray-background.jpgLike what you're reading? Sign up for NCR email alerts.

In March, Lennon sent letters to each member of St. Peter's, warning them that their salvation was at stake if they worshipped in a space without his approval.

Despite Lennon's admonishment, many, including Marrone, pressed on. In defiance of the bishop, they celebrated their first Mass in their new space Sunday and are planning to continue each week, operating on an annual budget of about $200,000.

Tayek said the bishop is concerned, but not threatened, by the action. "He's trying to do the pastoral thing here," said Tayek.

Marrone could not be reached for comment.

Bob Zack, a member of the new community's board of trustees, said the board had not heard from the diocese. Zack said he did not know whether Marrone or board members would be willing to meet with the bishop.

"We have not gotten together as a group to talk about it," he said.

Asked whether Marrone and the lay leaders could face excommunication for disobeying the bishop, Tayek said, "Eventually it could come to that. It would have to be properly investigated."

[Michael O'Malley writes for the The Plain Dealer in Ceveland.]

NCR Comment code: (Comments can be found below)

Before you can post a comment, you must verify your email address at Disqus.com/verify.
Comments from unverified email addresses will be deleted.

  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the original idea will be deleted. NCR reserves the right to close comment threads when discussions are no longer productive.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through. If you see something objectionable, please click the "Report abuse" button. Once a comment has been flagged, an NCR staff member will investigate.

For more detailed guidelines, visit our User Guidelines page.

For help on how to post a comment, visit our reference page.

 

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

07-18-2014_0.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.