Monday, April 05, 2010

Monday Jesus: The Cleveland Diocese FAIL

This has nothing to do with the Pope's sex scandal coverup, but it will make you angry if you are at all familiar with Catholicism. Or just hate stupid.

(Note: I am not nor have I ever been a member of St. Peter's. As soon as I heard the story, I did some hunting and digging to obtain the information presented here.)

Here's a story...

...of a few dozen Cleveland parishes (churches) that, because of the economic downturn and attendance downturn, had been ordained (no pun intended) to be unworthy of the Catholic Church's operating costs. In other words, despite historical significance or beauty of the building or the commitment of the congregation, several churches are just not pulling their weight. Here's a list of closed/closing churches, 30 in Cuyahoga County alone.

Bishop Dick


Bishop Richard Lennon: 'Heyyy..whaddya want from me? Salvation?'

Turns out that after a few churches had been officially closed by the diocese, word spread quickly that Bishop Richard Lennon was the diocesan form of Galactus, eater of worlds. The bishop would celebrate the final mass at the church and immediately afterwards made sure everyone was out of the building. Bodyguards by his side (I'm not kidding), generally with some or all of the congregation still lingering, Bishop Dick would drop a padlock on the front doors and - I'm guessing - laugh like a drunken Dr. Evil.

"Oh No You Di-int!?"

Some of the congregation of Historic St. Peter's Church in downtown Cleveland caught wind of this cruel / evil / inhumane / irreverent practice used to shut down churches and they got together and said they were going to boycott the April 11th closing mass. In order to maintain a place for congregation and fellowship and to continue the mission of the church, they rented a warehouse nearby.

Grumpy Dick

Bishop Richard caught wind of a slight scent of something that didn't smell overwhelmingly like money or obedience and sent every member of the congregation a letter of, well, I guess you'd call it a letter of disapproval with undertones of warning. Feel free to skim it, but here it is in its entirety and it's a right piece of scolding sanctimonious bullshit:
Dear -,

Because of the responsibility given to me as Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland, I have taken difficult but necessary steps to ensure the vibrancy and vitality of our Diocese going forward. In order to provide for presence and pastoral care in an equitable manner throughout the Diocese, a number of beloved parishes are closing and others are merging so that the work of building the Kingdom of God in the Diocese of Cleveland will continue. The men and women who founded these parishes sacrificed much, giving out of want in order to build the Church in Cleveland. With the same sense of commitment to the Catholic faith that was shown by those who built our early parishes, we move forward in faith.

I encourage you as a parishioner of St. Peter Parish to look to the future with a renewed commitment to your Catholic identity and to register at another parish in the Diocese following the mass that I am scheduled to celebrate on 11 April 2010 at St. Peter Church. Much has been done through the efforts of your Pastor, Father Robert Marrone, and through the laity of St. Peter to provide outreach to the poor of Cleveland and presence and various forms of assistance to the young people in a local public school in Cleveland. While the physical edifice that is your parish church will close, you are encouraged to continue the good work done at St. Peter's by joining parishes with other Catholics in the Diocese.

To maintain communion in Christ with the pastors of the Church and with the faithful is one of the most serious obligations we have as Catholics. Lumen gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church promulgated by the Second Vatican Council, states that the baptized are in full communion with the Catholic Church when joined with Christ in its visible structure by the bonds of profession of faith, of the sacraments and ecclesiastical governance (LG, #14).

It is because of my concern for you and your salvation an for the good of the Church in Cleveland that I write this letter. It has been brought to my attention that there is a document on file with the Ohio Secretary of State establishing "The Community of St. Peter" and that space has been rented on Euclid Avenue in Cleveland under that name. Further, it is my understanding that the establishment of "The Community of St. Peter" and the new website that is under development by that community which "will soon house information on all of our new programs and serve as a primary communication tool in our new service organization," has created confusion among parishioners of St. Peter Parish.

Gleaning from information I have received, some see this as a way for the current parishioners to continue their good works in the city which I can support; others are wondering if this means they will be worshiping together at the new address.

It is my hope and my prayer that there is no attempt on the part of some to set up an alternative parish outside the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Cleveland. Please know that I will not approve of a priest celebrating the sacraments in any space other than an approved site within the Diocese.

Most importantly, we must never lose sight of our Catholic Faith which we profess on Sundays and days of great celebration when we say "We believe in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church." When we became member's of God's Church we became members of the unified body of Christ. So important is this reality of unity that Jesus prayed the night before He died "...that they may all be one, as you Father, are in me and I in you."

When there is a breaking of unity and communion with the Church, there are consequences which affect one's relationships with the Lord, with His holy Church, as well as with other members of the faithful.

We are the Church together. We come together as family in challenging times. The Church is our spiritual family. We are called by Christ to work together. If we work together, we will be healed together. The participation of every parishoner of St. Peter in the family of the Church in Cleveland is essential if we are to bring the hope and peace of Christ to our community.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
(+ Richard Lennon)
Bishop of Cleveland


Synopsis: Holy Bullshittery Batman!

The gist of the letter is "I'm not sayin' anything solid or permanent, but if you stray from a sanctioned, official Catholic church, it might mess with your bond to God and everyone knows that means you go to hell." Amongst other things.

But how backwards is that? What happened to the humanity of faith? The compassion of Christ? What about "Whenever two or more of you are gathered in his name...?" People all over Cleveland are losing their places of worship. One woman I met is 92 years old and has only ever attended one church. And that church is closing. And instead of empathy and understanding, she gets Bishop Dick and The Meatheads on their Door Lockin' Tour and the message is "Get yourself to another church before you lose your soul!" WTF?

(Sidenote: she's also slowly losing her grasp on the presence of reality, so while her home church may give her comfort and a few moments of solace, a new parish would fill her with confusion if not terror. Good job Dick!)

Personal Rant / Conclusion

It is an excellent example of why I strayed from the Catholic faith so many years ago.

The purpose of most religions is to foster a connection between yourself and a higher power, whether for the purpose of personal enlightenment, betterment of the world, or just getting to Heaven because Dante wrote how shitty Hell was. And the Catholic church takes that core tenet, that raw energy of the goal of faith, and they put it in a box that says "mystery" on it, held by a priest who is your "go between guy" (and it can never be a woman). So at the very start, you're never allowed to touch it. That's locked into a church that must be validated by the diocese and is wrapped in Bishops and Archbishops and Cardinals and rules and nuance and dogma and doctrine and "Vatican II" and a filthy rich Vatican City that's its own country headed by a guy who was a member of the Hitler Youth and had a hand in covering up cases of pedophilia and molestation the world over!

And they wondered why I didn't want to go to church on Sunday.


I'm guessing many of you have never gotten in this deeply to the world of Catholic doctrine, dogma, disillusionment, etc. I hope, if nothing else, I opened your eyes to another facet of society that has gone horribly wrong.


UPDATE: The good people of St. Peter's Parish have found a new, temporary home and held their first celebration of worship this weekend. Thanks to John in comments for this link of what was a joyous moment for them all.

9 comments:

thatgirl said...

That whole thing made me mad too... I'm not Catholic anymore but that just makes the whole "you can't worship somewhere else" thing seem even more absurd because he's citing Vatican councils and nothing resembling anything scriptural and really just throwing his weight around.

It's sad.

Utah Savage said...

I'm glad I never had to deal with a loss of faith. They all seem to have control of women at the heart of the doctrine.

Nicely written piece. I hope there is a full on rebellion.

Anonymous said...

Oh, there's a full on rebellion. The letter from the bishop was mainly to discourage parishioners from meeting on our own. A nonprofit called the Community of St. Peter has been formed to continue the congregation's volunteer ministries (work in two homeless shelters and tutoring at an inner city elementary school--yeah, we're doing such horrible things, huh?). The Bishop seems to think if we worship on our own with a priest then we're all going to hell.

Ricky Shambles said...

Great comments and thanks thatgirl & Utah! Anon- thrilled to hear from someone in the fray. Keep up that spirit and conviction!

John Russell said...

The rebellion finally happened. Good for them! http://blog.cleveland.com/metro/2010/08/parishioners_from_closed_catho.html

Ricky Shambles said...

John- Haha, yes! I heard it on the radio coming back from Cleveland yesterday. Thanks for sharing the link!

Blogger said...

Did you know that that you can make cash by locking special areas of your blog or site?
Simply join CPALead and add their Content Locking tool.

Blogger said...

Did you know that you can create short urls with AdFly and get $$$ from every visitor to your shortened urls.

Blogger said...

If you are looking for an excellent contextual advertising network, I recommend you check out Clicksor.