The letter referenced is from the Apostolic Signatura, dated December 4, 2009, and is in response to an appeal by Holy Trinity of the decision to close Holy Trinity parish. Though the appeal to close Holy Trinity parish was rejected by the Apostolic Signatura (which we knew already), the decision to sell the building was clearly described in the letter as a different matter and process.
Here is the comment by “K&JSR”:
If you want to see an example of a warning letter from the Vatican NOT to do what the Archdiocese just did, it is available as pdf, and was recently sent to the Chancery.
“In regard to the question of the closing of the church building, it has not been established from the documents present in the case file that the reduction of the church to profane use, that is, its definitive closure, has been decreed by the Archbishop and confirmed by the Congregation for the Clergy. In any event, the requirements of canon 1222 would have to be observed fully and, if the sale of the church is contemplated, all the pertinent requirements of universal and particular law would have to be met, including, if such is the case, can. 1292, § 2, with due regard for the rights of those Christian faithful having a legitimate interest to challenge such a decision according to the rules of the law.”
Translated: the appeals of PARISH closing have nothing to do with the separate appeals of CHURCH building closings. DO NOT skip the necessary steps of FIRST consulting Parishioners or interested parties, OR of letting the Vatican speak FIRST if there is an appeal.
BCI translation: If the sale of the church building is being considered by the archdiocese, the archdiocese needs to follow the rules of relegating it to profane use, and Catholics have a legitimate right to challenge that decision. Cardinal O’Malley was explicitly copied on the letter.
So how is it that the church shows up on the Sothebys website for sale (amidst residential townhouse and condo sale listings), when the process was not followed?
How can the Vicar General say there is a “thorough, thoughtful and efficient” process developed “with sincere intent” to consider input from the Catholic faithful regarding the relegation to profane use of church buildings before they are sold, when for this particular building, it’s already up for sale and no process was followed?
Why was this directive from the Vatican to follow canon law apparently ignored? If this one was ignored, how many other times is canon law being ignored?
Does anyone believe the words uttered by senior officials of this archdiocese can be trusted any more? Beyond the fact that the sale of Holy Trinity should be halted until due process is followed, is there any question that there also needs to be a change in senior leadership?
The Vicar General is already half-way out the door, heading back to the military soon. The actions and words of the Chancellor and his Benefits Administrator/former HR Director indicate they also cannot be trusted.
We are calling on all Catholics in the archdiocese to ask their pastors and priests to find a vehicle for communicating a “no confidence” vote in the Chancellor and the administrative leadership of this archdiocese and asking for immediate action to replace the financial/administrative leadership. This action needs to happen within a week–before the 5-year-term of the current Chancellor is renewed.
More on the need to replace the financial and administrative leadership in our next post.