Legal strategies that won’t pan out

Legal strategies that won’t pan out

The lawyers are coming up with all kinds of tactics to keep their churches open. One group of parishioners in toney Wellesley claim that the land for St. James the Great parish was donated with the provision that it only be used for the Church. They also claim that Archbishop Sean O’Malley violated canon law by failing to consult with the parish’s founding members before making the decision to close. Where exactly in canon law is that, because my Code doesn’t say anything about consulting founding members? For one thing, the vast majority of founding members of parishes are dead.  The only canon law says, in can. 515, is that the bishop alone can suppress parishes, and that he must consult with the presbyteral council, which has purely an advisory role.

If these pursue the donation angle, it still won’t save the parish. The archdiocese could decide not to sell the property, but to close the parish anyway. In fact, I’m betting that the archdiocese does not intend to sell off every closed church and its property. Worse comes to worse, the donated land would revert to the descendants of the original donors. So be it. I’d rather that than have the courts dictating what parishes the Church can close and which ones it must keep open.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli