It seems that church leaders traditionally bungle schisms, breakaways, splits, and other fractures of Church unity. I notice that a Cleveland parish has emerged outside of a bishop’s authority. Not for reasons of theology (women’s ordination, same-sex Catholics, or even the MR3) but over an accusation of poor governance. Interesting approach, this. In Boston they fight like hell over the buildings. For St Peter’s, it’s about the faith community itself. St Peter’s parishioners were forced out of the impressive structure on the left (credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer) to celebrate Mass in a warehouse.
Father Robert Marrone, pastor:
Here, enlightened by Christ . . . we can renew our dedication to the traditions of our faith which we hold as precious. Today is a day for action, not reaction; imagination, not fear.
I know it has not been an easy journey for you as it has not been an easy journey for me. But standing here today, I am filled with gratitude, peace and confidence.
Things have to get really bad for this kind of thing to happen. I don’t hear good things about Bishop Lennon from pretty much anybody. So this split indeed seems to be more about politics than anything else.
Meanwhile, a rebellious St Louis parish finds its membership swells, as its pastor welcomes progressive ideas. This tale is a lot more curious to me. What started out as a fight over buildings seems to have been spiced up by a renegade priest promoting women’s ordination and some kind of shift in the makeup of the community. But at its root is a lingering lack of trust in the institution, as evidenced by one parishioner’s comment:
I don’t trust the archdiocese. I’ve witnessed how it’s closed other parishes. All they needed to do was bring somebody down to speak — instead they sent lawyers.
Instead of sending a speaker (let alone a listener), Archbishop Burke sent lawyers. He might be an expert in canon law, but he seems decidedly secular and certainly naive about being a shepherd. Probably why he’s in Rome and not St Louis. Or New York.
I also lack trust in certain things. Charismatic leaders who attract followers, and make the movement about people and personalities, rather than the higher things. On the other hand, the sacraments are a substantial source of nourishment for a community. I don’t mean to belittle the efforts of Boston Catholics. For many of them, I’m sure it’s about more than the buildings. I suspect that if a priest had been willing to stand with any of the parishes, it would have looked a lot like St Peter’s, Cleveland.