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.

  • Queries for every parish in every diocese:

    1.) How many generations have passed through this Church?

    2.) How many vocations to Holy Orders and Perpetual Vows were generated by the above generations?

    Totals, please.

  • The archdiocese could decide not to sell the property, but to close the parish anyway.

    Hopefully they have the foresight (and hope) to see that someday the Church in Boston could grow again and they might need some of that property.  I hope that they don’t sell all of it.  A lot of parishes in southeastern New Hampshire sold off land that they had in the 80s and 90s and now some of them regret it as they are looking for land to re-build schools, etc. 

  • I think the descendants of the donors have recourse to Canon 1222 which I quote in my blog (see the trackback link).

    Keep in mind that the encumbrance to the deed is only allegeded at this point and the burden of proof is with the Maffeis.

    I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that the Archdiocese is lying in 1950’s or now regarding its promise to devote the land for a church.

  • No one’s disputing that the Archdiocese said the donated land would be used for a church, which it was for more than 50 years. The question is whether the archdiocese agreed that the land would remain as a church in perpetuity.

  • If there was an encumbrance it typically is perpetual—an interesting question is how does this right pass down through the generations.

    The question is whether it is a simple reversion of title or something a bit more complicated.

    Isn’t it a bit ironic that this rare name “Waldo” refers to back to a great heresy the Waldesians named after another Waldo.