Cleveland bishop pressed to reopen spared churches

THOMAS J. SHEERAN Associated Press Published:

CLEVELAND (AP) -- Critics of church closings in the Cleveland Catholic Diocese want the bishop to implement an extraordinary Vatican ruling and quickly reopen 13 churches.

The calls came Thursday from an outspoken opponent of the closings, Patricia Schulte-Singleton, and the group FutureChurch, which promotes a stronger voice for lay Catholics.

Bishop Richard Lennon must decide whether to abide by the ruling from the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy or appeal it.

Spokesman Robert Tayek said Thursday the bishop has unofficial copies but must await certified documents from the Vatican to comment.

The Congregation for the Clergy ruled that the bishop failed to follow church law and procedure in the closings three years ago.

The 13 churches were among 50 shut down or merged amid declining numbers of parishioners, priests and finances.