Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church


Vatican: Syracuse church cannot be deconsecrated

May 24th, 2011, Promulgated by Mike

From The Wall Street Journal …

SYRACUSE, N.Y. — The Vatican has ruled that a suburban Syracuse church cannot be deconsecrated, meaning it must remain a Catholic worship site.

The ruling by the Vatican Supreme Court sets the stage for parishioners of St. Mary’s Church in Jamesville to see if they can work out details with Robert Cunningham, bishop of the Syracuse Diocese, to reopen the building.

“Today is a good day. It is not the end of our journey, but our destination is now in sight. We are cautiously optimistic,” Colleen LaTray, a member of the committee that organized the appeal, told a group of about 50 parishioners who gathered Tuesday at the front of the locked church and erupted more than once in appreciative applause. “We will have to wait several weeks for all the details.”

A call for comment from the Syracuse Diocese was not immediately returned.

More here.


16 Responses to “Vatican: Syracuse church cannot be deconsecrated”

  1. avatar Dr. K says:

    That’s great to hear!

  2. avatar Bruce says:

    A call for comment was not returned? What? Was the lay pastor out?

  3. That is great news! I wish that would happen for St. Andrew Church and for the other wonderful Catholic churches that are up for sale!

  4. avatar Air says:

    Great love, good hearts.

  5. avatar Bill Benton says:

    Bruce–no lay leaders in the diocese next door.
    It appears they just have enough other problems, and needed a way out.
    Now they don’t have one except bankruptcy. Time will Tell.

  6. avatar Faithful says:

    If Rome wants to stick their nose in and reverse these bishops decisions here is what I say:

    Let Rome fund the Churches and let Rome Staff them.

    These people just don’t get it. Catholicism is not about building idolatry.

  7. avatar Bruce says:

    “faithful” what an interesting comment. You seem to advocate breaking away from Rome, as if the Bishop of Rome had no say over the universal Church. Hmmm… very protestant of you.

  8. “One pastor, One parish, and many times, One Church buidling.”
    The future of the DoR. This is what orthodox bishops do when confronted with a priest shortage.

  9. avatar Faithful says:


    No—I advocate letting bishops govern their dioceses in matters of business. What does Rome know about the needs of individual dioceses when it comes to how parishes are set up, and how to best allocate resources? Again, I ask—is Rome going to pay to maintain these structrues? NO. Is Rome going to worry about how they are going to be staffed? NO. Easy for Rome to butt in when THEY aren’t the ones who have to take responsibility for their decisions! Easy for Rome to second guess a bishop when Rome isn’t the one who has to live with the consequences of the decisions! It is one thing to go after a heretical bishop, quite another to tell a bishop how he has to allocate parishes in his own diocese!

    I also find it funny that you don’t like the other solutions proposed to keep parishes open—lay pastoral administrators. I don’t like lay pastoral administrators any more then you, but here is the reality: if you insist on keeping uncessary buildings, and acting like the year is a perpetual 1950, something has to give. If you want a priest in every parish, then you have to shed buildings. If you want parishes financially healthy you have to shed buildings. If one the other hand all you care about is buildings, you will get your buildings—but then you might not have a priest, and you can worry about funding it, and you can deal with some liberal pastoral administrator who pretends to be a priest or priestess.

    Why not get over the building idolatry and start getting with the mission of the Church: bringing the graces of salvation to the world. How many people could you bring into the Church if you stopped worrying about whether your little town parish is going to stay open, and you started evangelizing people?

  10. avatar Mike says:


    I don’t believe you have a very good argument here, for the following reasons.

    First Canon Law exists to maintain the order of the Church, to ensure justice, and to guarantee the rights of those in the Church.

    Second, bishops close parishes almost as a matter of routine these days. While some parishioners complain to Rome, very few of these appeals are ever granted. This indicates that almost all of these bishops are following Canon Law and not violating any parishioner’s rights in closing their parishes.

    Third, although we do not have the detailed written decree yet, the Apostolic Signatura has ruled that “the Syracuse bishop has erred on the ‘merits of the case as a matter of canon law’ and not because of a procedural error or a technicality,” according to one of the participants in the case (see here). In other words, in this particular case the bishop did something that violated parishioners’ rights under Canon Law.

    Fourth, given the above, your argument then becomes that a bishop should be allowed to do whatever he wants, regardless of the rights of anyone else. That, I submit, is absurd.

    Finally, I find your reference to “building idolatry” to be a straw man, and a pejorative one at that. While news accounts do mention an historic building with beautiful stained glass windows, the parishioners are quoted as saying their appeal was based on several other considerations: (1) their congregation is not only stable but growing; (2) their parish is located in one of the few areas of the diocese undergoing significant housing and population growth; (3) their parish is not only debt-free but has significant savings; (4) the church building is structurally sound, well-maintained, and in need of only routine maintenance for the foreseeable future; (5) the parish’s well-received outreach to the community (in the form of a food pantry and other services) would be lost; (6) the parish’s religious education program involving about 100 children would be lost; and (7) the bishop, in selecting which parishes to close, did not apply reasonable standards equally.

  11. avatar Bruce says:

    Well done, Mike! You said it all in your dissection of a very flawed argument.

  12. avatar Faithful says:


    “Here out our growing, financially solvent, located in a pristine location, out reach, so forth and so on.”

    I would believe this except for one thing: This is the tune of EVERY parish that thinks they might close! They try to tell the diocese what they think the diocese wants to hear or needs to hear to save their parish. Then they try to conform the data to what they are saying. Sir, I am not stupid.

    I notice that the majority of your reply was directed at trying to inform me that you are well within your rights. I never said you didn’t have rights under Canon Law. What I am saying is fact: Rome ultimatley does not have to take responsibility for their decisions. Rome does not have to worry about where the funding is going to come to maintain these buildings, nor does Rome have to worry about staffing issues. Rome does not have to worry about priests that are pastoring five seperate parishes when no more then two are necessary. Rome does not have to worry about priests having break downs becasue of this. The Bishop of the Diocese, NOT the people ultimately has to worry about those things. Therefore it is easy for the people to complain, and easy for Rome to hear their complaint. When you are not ultimately responsible for the building, or staffing it is easy to tell the bishop what should be done—isn’t it?

    You want your buildings, but God help the bishop if he sends you a lay administrator so you can have them! You want your buildings, but God help the bishop if he sends you a priest and has to pastor five of them—and cannot tend to your spiritual needs becasue he is stuck worrying about air conditioning, plumbing, roofs, etc. Don’t you see? You are not happy with your buildings and you are not happy without them. What does that tell you? The buildings ain’t the issue! You Faith is the issue. What you need are Mass and the Sacraments, spiritual nourishment—not a Church in every town.

    Let me ask you something: Do you really think for one minute that bishops LIKE doing this? Do you really thing bishops WANT to do this? Do you really think if there was another way that was best for everyone bishops would not try to find it? You don’t think bishops want to be building parishes and schools? You don’t think bishops want plentiful vocations? Rememebr—this is not just going on in Rochester. This issue effects a lot of the United States!

    Sir, you people and the rest need to get over yourselves. The Church is bigger then you and your parish. The Church does not revolve around you and your parish. The Church does not revolve around her individual members, her individual members revolve around her. Priests from day one of ordination need to realize this fact, why don’t the people? The question is not “what do you need” the question is “What does the Diocese need?” The question is not “What is best for our parish” the question is “What is best for the Diocese as a whole?” You need to start thinking bigger then your parish, and bigger then yourself.

    I repeat: You can spend your energy in building idolatry, or you can get with the mission of the Church and evangelize. I am telling you–we could really bring a lot of people to Christ if we spend our energy worrying more about what Christ has commanded us to do, then maintaining uncessary Real Estate.

  13. avatar Bruce says:

    More misdirection and drivel, “faithful”. The simple fact is that lay pastors are illicit and church closings are unnecessary if the bishop did not insist on destroying vocations in his diocese. Lay pastors = no priests = no churches = no parishioners = no diocese. Thank God his tenure is nearly over.

  14. avatar Mike says:


    First of all, this isn’t about my parish. It isn’t even about my diocese. (I’m in the Diocese of Rochester and the story is about the Diocese of Syracuse.)

    Second, FWIW, my former parish did close last fall and without a peep of protest from me. Our bishop, flawed as he might be in other areas, made the right call in this case, IMHO. The services of the priest then responsible for that parish are now being better utilized in another parish with more people.

    Third, you are, if essence, calling the people who filed the protest a pack of liars and the Apostolic Signatura a bunch of gullible fools for buying their sob story. Do you realize that appeals to Rome need to be accompanied by credible, verifiable documentation if they are going to have any chance at all of success?

    Fourth, yes, dozens of appeals over closures have been filed, but almost all of them have been denied. That says to me that almost all of our bishops are doing a good job in a bad situation. But it also says that a few of them have screwed up the process to the point that Rome has had to step in and say, “No, you cannot do that.” And you still seem to be saying that Rome should pay the bill when a bishop messes up that badly. I still say that is absurd.

    Fifth, the use of lay pastoral administrators, at least in this diocese, is primarily an attempt to prove to the world that radical feminist, priestess wannabes are just as capable of overseeing the pastoral care of a parish as is any priest. The statistics, however, are putting the lie to that theory: Almost all their parishes are losing parishioners far faster than the diocese as a whole. The Church, in her wisdom, insists that a priest should always be in charge of pastoral care at a parish and the people – most of them, anyway – seem to understand this at some level.

    Sixth, when push comes to shove I have no problem with lay administrators running parishes, as long as they stick to the business end of parish operations (your “air conditioning, plumbing, roofs, etc.”) and leave the pastoring to a priest. But that’s not the way things are done around here.

    Finally, you’ve said nothing to change my mind about “building idolatry” being nothing but a pejorative straw man argument. While I have no doubt those parishioners in Syracuse love their building, their appeal was based on other, more substantial, considerations. They would not have succeeded if that were not the case.

  15. avatar Faithful says:

    Believe me, I don’t like pastoral administrators anymore then you do, and I agree that pastoral care should always be done by a priest—not women (or men) with stole envy.

    We are just going to have to agree to disagree on this issue. I agree bishops do not always make good decisions with what should close as opposed to what should stay open, but in the end I simply think it is better that people accept what is and try to move on then appeal. (Even though they might have the right to do so.)

  16. avatar Diane Harris says:

    Faithful, one point I’d like to add to your final comment: (“Even though they might have the right to do so.”) The point is to see the call for discernment implicit in Canon 212 part 3: “They [the laity] have the right, indeed at times the duty, in keeping with their knowledge, competence and position, to manifest to the sacred Pastors their views on matters which concern the good of the Church.”

    It isn’t only about right; it is also about DUTY. I believe that many of us who voice complaint about the poor planning results, the improper inclusion of women (aka priestesses) and lack of stewardship from the top and much more, are not without basis in doing so, and that to ignore mismanagement on the part of diocesan leadership, or lack of transparency, or poor financial practices, or illogical decisions only leads to the ultimate harm of souls, and therefore of the Church.

    I, for one, would not presume to speak on music or art, since I have no credible basis other than personal opinion. But in the finance and planning, governance and communications arena I do have “knowledge and competence” and after long and repeated discernment, I believe I have an obligation — yes a “duty” in the words of this canon — to use the relevant gifts for the good of the Church. It is not a mere “exercising of rights.”

    Therefore, I accord all who express their concerns and strive to fully obey all Church teaching, and who share their gifts in particular and relevant areas as they discern the call to do so, as not mere opinion but as fulfilling a DUTY emanating from their discernment, all tested by the presence of both truth and charity. We should not lightly skip over the word DUTY in this Canon, always asking the question “What am I called to do in this situation?”

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