Wednesday, September 02, 2009

In Cleveland, Cops as Vimps

An all-too-familiar rite in recent years, some 1,000 Stateside churches have shut their doors over the last decade... but even so, the fallout over the diocese of Cleveland's close-and-merge of a third of its 224 parishes saw Bishop Richard Lennon take unusual precautions at one church's final Mass:

During the service, uniformed Cleveland police officers watched over the bishop. One followed him down the main aisle during the final procession. Then, flanked by officers, Lennon left the church and walked in the rain through a back parking lot, ignoring the protest signs -- "Dis-Membering in Process," "This is Not God's Plan," "Keep Our Church Open."

Protesters Marta Fordos of Fairview Park and Hanna Gereby of Cleveland ran after Lennon, catching up to him. "I'm sorry you have to ruin our churches," snapped Fordos. "Judas!"

Lennon, his eyes downcast, did not respond, continuing his wet march toward his car.

On a related note, as the economic downturn takes a continued toll on church resources at every level, tomorrow will see the rollout of significant administrative cuts by the especially hard-hit archdiocese of Detroit.

Termed a "bloodbath," up to a third of the Motor City's 200-some central staff could lose their jobs, according to early projections.

The crisis in the region's all-powerful auto industry has led to a jobless rate of 15% across Michigan, with the ranks of the unemployed approaching 30% -- over three times the national average -- in Detroit itself.

PHOTO: Gus Chan/Cleveland Plain-Dealer