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Vatican Rejects Detroit Churches' Appeal of Order to Close by July 1

June 28, 1989|From Associated Press

DETROIT — The Vatican has turned down an appeal by 14 Roman Catholic churches of an archdiocesan order to close by July 1, and five parishes that had planned to defy Cardinal Edmund Szoka were reconsidering their opposition.

The Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy rejected the 14 appeals filed in March as lacking foundation in law and fact, archdiocese spokesman Jay Berman said Monday. The archdiocese has announced plans to close 30 churches due to declining membership.

"There is a real discouragement among the people here that Rome didn't care about the injustices that have happened," Sister Jolene Van Handel said. Van Handel is coordinator of the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, a coalition of priests and lay people opposed to Szoka's plan.

Nine parishes had said they would remain open, but some opposition eroded after a series of private weekend meetings between priests and Szoka, who ordered the closings in January after two committees made up of church and civic leaders recommended the plan.

Two parishes that had planned to defy the cardinal said they now expect to accept the order and close by Friday. The pastor of a third congregation urged his parishioners to drop their opposition.

Another pastor said he will try to persuade his members to close, and a fifth parish said it now was undecided.

Wayne County Circuit Court Judge James Hathaway is scheduled to consider a request by 18 parishes for an injunction against the closings at a hearing today.

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