Cleveland Bishop Finds a Way to Become MORE Unpopular
Cleveland's Catholic Bishop Richard Lennon is not exactly the most popular person among Catholics I know. Many have dubbed him things like "Richard the Closer," a reference to the heavy-handed way he managed the closing of dozens of local parishes, ignoring the recommendations of taskforces he convened and refusing to share his reasoning with people. About a dozen of those parishes appealed to the Vatican and won their cases; they reopened last year.
One of those was St. Peter, a vibrant parish whose church is located at E. 17th and Superior. When the church was closed, hundreds of worshippers and their priest Robert Marrone rented a space and continued to worship together as the Community of St. Peter.
Bishop Lennon wasn't happy. Incredibly, he was quoted in the Plain Dealer as saying that if they worshipped in a place not approved by him, "their salvation is at stake."
Apparently, Bishop Lennon thinks he speaks for God.
Now there's this:
"Bishop Richard Lennon excommunicates the Rev. Robert Marrone"
Lennon said in the statement that Marrone violated terms of a leave of absence he had received from the diocese and that he refused to abandon a worship space he and his followers had set up outside the authority of the diocese.
"Father Marrone's recent actions have been in direct defiance of the church's teachings and authority," Lennon said.
The diocese is saying Marrone "excommunicated himself" by his actions, the convoluted way the church likes to pass the buck in these cases.
And it seems that to the church, holding services in an unsanctioned location is far, far worse than, say, sexually molesting children or systematically covering up such abuse and putting offenders in a position to do it again. As far as I can tell, no priests, bishops, archbishops or cardinals have "excommunicated themselves" by doing these things. In fact, Cardinal Law or Boston and Cardinal Levada of San Francisco, both embroiled in cover-up scandals, were whisked away to the Vatican and placed in positions of high authority.
A search for church officials who have been excommunicated in recent years turns up things like the nun in Arizona who was excommunicated for approving an abortion to save a woman's life, several theologians who were discussing issues the church doesn't want to talk about, especially the ordination of women, and of course, participating in the ordination of women. The Danube Seven — seven women who were ordained as priests in 2002 on a boat on the Danube River in Germany (among them former Ohio First Lady Dagmar Celeste) — were of course excommunicated because WOMEN BAD!
And of course there was the infamous case in Brazil of a nine-year-old who was raped by her stepfather and became pregnant. The archbishop excommunicated the doctors and mother of the girl for performing/allowing an abortion. He did not excommunicate the stepfather.
The diocese continues to take its haughty, presumptuous position on Father Marrone:
Excommunication is meant to be the church's way of informing a person that he or she is doing something that harms the church and also harms his or her relationship with God," the statement said.
I seriously doubt members of the Community of St. Peter will care. Whenever I run into one of them, they are usually out doing good in the community and not worrying about what the bishop thinks about their relationship with God.
Maybe it's the bishop who should be doing some serious soul-searching about his "relationship with God" — as well as the people he is supposed to be leading.