Their church building in Cleveland, Ohio closed by their bishop. How would you feel?
Mass in their temporary gathering space, does this look progressive to you?
Schism in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio! The bishop of that diocese had the monumental and unenviable task of closing and consolidating parishes in his city/diocese. One parish, a rather progressive, liberal one, St. Peter's has gone into schism with the Church. This schism is led by its pastor with support of parishioners who love him and love the parish he created with them. READ ABOUT IT BY PRESSING HERE!
What's fascinating to me is that liberals usually are all over the place and cannot organize in any fashion to create any real or lasting schism. Ultra-conservatives, on the other hand, know how to go into schism and pull it off. Think of Archbishop Marcel Lefebre's schism. He knew what he was doing and had a personality that led millions of others into his schismatic sect. Conservatives know how to unify! This can be both a blessing and a curse. But I digress.
The parish I was assigned to in Augusta in 1991, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity,was amalgamated with two other parishes in 1970, an all black parish, Immaculate Conception and and all white one, Sacred Heart Church. The three downtown parishes were in close proximity to one another and there was no longer a need for three downtown parishes since most of the Catholics has moved to the suburbs and new parishes created there. As one can imagine, the two churches that were closed caused great pain for parishioners involved. Some refused to attend Most Holy Trinity and moved to suburban parishes, other stopped attending Mass altogether and still others left the Catholic Church for other Protestant Churches. However, no priest or parishioners went into schism with the Catholic Church setting up an "independent Catholic parish" such as the priests and his groupies, I mean, parishioners in Cleavland.
Sacred Heart Church in Augusta is a "sister" to St. Joseph in Macon, conceived by the same Jesuit brother who also conceived Sacred Heart Church in Tampa and the destroy Sacred Heart Church in Galveston, Texas. All his churches are simply jewels!
What would you do if your historic, much loved Church were closed by the bishop? How would that affect your Catholic faith and participation. If you had a charismatic priest who was willing to rebel and defy his bishop and the Church, would you follow him blindly. Is the "cult of the priest's personality" that powerful in Catholic lives?
I would like to make a comparison. Clericalism, that is, priests who think they are above the law, either church law or civil law and think they compose a caste in the Church superior to anyone else is a grave sin. It has contributed to Catholics believing that their priests are above reproach, are divinely inspired in all their action and trustworthy in all things. Some rogue, derelict and perverted priests have taken advantage of parishioners naivete in this regard by abusing their authority and status. This has led to children, teenagers and adults being sexually and otherwise abused and the crisis we now experience today in terms of Catholic credibility.
Some lay Catholics place their priests so high on a pedestal and make them icons of their lives that they are devastated when they learn that "their" special priest may have committed heinous crimes and sins in their past by using the status accorded to them to take advantage of the unsuspecting.
I believe that the priest in Cleveland who has led his parish into schism has abused his position, taken advantage of his parishioners and his parishioners, so enamored with that priest's abilities, skills and rebellious attitude, have followed him much like so many others who follow cult leaders. It is a shame!
I would hate seeing any parish closed. If I were a lay person I don't think I would ever follow any priest or lay person out of the Catholic Church, at least I hope I wouldn't. What about you?
A TALE OF TWO CITIES, AUGUSTA AND MACON, WHAT IF WHAT HAPPENED IN AUGUSTA HAD HAPPENED INSTEAD IN MACON? WHAT WOULD YOU DO? LOOK AT THE PICTURES:
Augusta's closed Sacred Heart Church
Sacred Heart's "sister" St. Joseph Church, Macon. How would you feel if the bishop closed it?
Interior of St. Joseph which is more elegant than closed Sacred Heart, don't you think?
Interior of Augusta's closed Sacred Heart Church, now a cultural center for receptions!