Cleveland Area Ethnic Parishes Join National Appeal On Church Closings

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Members of eight ethnic churches ordered closed by Bishop Richard Lennon of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese have joined a national appeal to the Vatican, saying the Catholic Church in America is engaged in “ethnic cleansing.”

 Catholic activist Peter Borre of Boston, representing 22 ethnic parishes in six dioceses, including Cleveland, met in Rome last week with Polish Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, asking that he use his influence to reverse the closings.

“The cardinal listened attentively,” said Borre who was back in Boston this week. “I expressed my view that Cleveland’s Catholics are not being treated with the pastoral care one could expect from someone entrusted with their spiritual welfare.”

Borre, who chairs the Boston-based Council of Parishes — which helps parishioners nationwide fight church closings — declined to discuss what went on in the 45-minute meeting with the cardinal or to speculate about what would become of the appeal.

Borre presented the cardinal with a letter signed by parishioners of the 22 parishes outlining “a deliberate campaign of parish ethnic cleansing spreading across America.”

The letter states that half of the 50 churches Lennon ordered closed in his ongoing downsizing of the diocese are ethnic parishes – nine Polish, six Hungarian, six Slovak, two Slovenian, and one Lithuanian.

The eight Cleveland-area parishes appealing to the Polish cardinal are: St. Barbara and St. Casimir, Cleveland (Polish); Sacred Heart, Akron, St. Emeric, Cleveland, St. Margaret Mary of Hungary, Orange Village (Hungarian); St. John the Baptist, Akron, St. Wendelin, Cleveland (Slovak); St. Lawrence, Cleveland (Slovenian).

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