Apostolic visitator in Cleveland this week

The Cleveland diocese — confirming media reports from late last month — announced this morning that the diocese will be the subject of an apostolic visitation.

John M. Smith, bishop emeritus of the Trenton, N.J., diocese, will be visiting Cleveland this week, the Cleveland diocese announced today.

At the end of June, an Italian newspaper reported that the Vatican was sending an apostolic visitator to Cleveland to “ascertain the facts” about a diocesan organization plan that called for the closing of 25 parishes. Opposition to the plan to close about 25 percent of parishes in the diocese was widespread and vocal. (Read a few stories we printed over the last two years.) Petitions and letters of protest flew to Vatican congregations and the Vatican's representative in Washington.

This morning the Cleveland diocese made this announcement:

News Release
Bishop Lennon Requests Diocesan Visit

CLEVELAND – July 11, 2011 – Acting on the request of Most Rev. Richard G. Lennon, The Holy See has asked Most Rev. John M. Smith, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Trenton (N.J.), to visit the Diocese of Cleveland.

Bishop Lennon said, “While I am confident that I am faithfully handling the responsibilities entrusted to me, I personally made this request earlier this year because a number of persons have written to Rome expressing their concerns about my leadership of the Diocese. This visit will be an opportunity to gather extensive information on all aspects of the activities of the Diocese and will allow for an objective assessment of my leadership. I ask for prayers that this process will support the vibrancy and vitality of our Diocese going forward.”

Bishop Smith will be in Cleveland this week. Following the conclusion of his visit, Bishop Smith will submit a report to The Holy See; no timetable has been announced.

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