Cleveland update

NCR contributor Robert McClory has been following a story in Cleveland. (See: Diocese of Cleveland was reacting to an unauthorized Mass.) McClory just filed this dispatch:

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon declined to take any immediate punitive action after members of a suppressed parish celebrated for the first time an unauthorized Mass Aug. 15.

In a letter on the diocesan Web site Aug. 20, he stressed "the importance of unity and communion" among the faithful and said the action of the former parishioners of St. Peter is "of grave concern." But "rather than dismissive action," Lennon said, "this is a time for prayer and calmness, and he expressed hope for a meeting with the former pastor and leaders of the community.

The St. Peter situation is somewhat unique among closed-down parishes in the country. In many cases, parishioners have struggled to keep their churches open in defiance of the local bishop, some even occupying the church buildings 24 hours a day. That is not the case here.

"As the bishop went around the diocese closing parishes," said Bob Zack, a community leader, "he kept saying a parish is not a piece of real estate. It's a community of people. We understood that, we got it. If he wants, the building, fine, take it. But we refuse to be suppressed as a community." So St. Peter members formed a 5013c legal entity, the community of St. Peter, with former pastor Robert Marrone as chaplain. They then rented a space for worship in a nearby building, set up an altar, baptismal font and religious icons.

Look to this space Monday for the full story.

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