Thursday, August 11, 2005

Know Your Canon Law

So I just got off the phone with the Chief Canonist, spending 20 minutes wracking our brains as to how and why Clergy ruled as they did and where Richie Lennon -- the mastermind behind the Boston reconfig -- dropped the ball.

The crucial passage in the Herald story seems to be this:
The decision by the Congregation for Clergy affects seven of the 15 parishes whose members appealed closings. Among those that did not prevail are ethnic churches and other parishes with no geographic borders.
So, first off, Vatican Inc. knocked out eight appeals on procedural grounds (as they do) and decided that licit appeals were only applicable in the case of the territorial parishes. Beyond that, there seemed a reframing at work here.

Goes like this: the canons provide for two options in situations of parish closings. There's the suppression, when a parish ceases to exist and its members are subsumed into an already existing entity, and the merge, where two or more parishes are closed simultaneously and a new parish is formed from the aggregate, with a new name, etc.

Bottom line: While O'Malley & Co. framed and decreed the closings as suppressions -- in which case the assets would've reverted back to the chancery -- Rome is viewing them as merges, as the remaining parishes are being "altered" (another big word in the law) and their boundaries redrawn to allow for the good order of the local church and the intake of the parishioners of the closed parishes. In the latter case, and ergo the judgment of the Holy See, the assets of the closed parish must go to the altered/enlarged/remaining entity.

The Arch is weighing an appeal to the Signatura.... Talk about raising the temperature.



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