CLEVELAND -- A national figure in the Catholic Church closing controversy hosted a meeting in Cleveland Saturday.
Peter Borre of Boston's Council of Parishes met with representatives of 12 of the 13 Northeast Ohio churches which the Vatican recently ordered to re-open. Borre has led a similar fight in Boston for more than seven years.
"In Boston we had to build on failure, namely our churches were shut down and we didn't know what to do," Borre told WKYC. "Here in Cleveland these groups will be building on success."
"They've won some battles but they have not won they war," he said of the 13 local parishes which have been fighting their closure. "But wow, this is the most encouraging thing I have seen on the Catholic beat in eight years."
In mid-March the Congregation for the Clergy ruled that Richard Lennon, Bishop of the Diocese of Clevealnd, failed to follow church law and procedure when he closed those 13 churches three years ago. They were among some 50 parishes which were closed or merged.
Lennon has yet to announce his plans for the 13 churches. A decision was expected by mid-May. Those taking part in Saturday's meeting said they are now better prepared for whatever decision Bishop Lennon makes.
"We have more of a sense of direction, some specific ways that we can handle things as they come up," said Patricia Schulte Singleton, leader of the Save St. Pat's Committee. "We're waiting for Bishop Lennon to let us know what he intends to do."
Schulte-Singleton was at the front of years of protests against the closings of her church and others which parishioners believed were unjustly shuttered by Lennon in 2009. She compared the parishes' struggle to colonial America.
"It's very similar to the 13 colonies," she observed. "This has never been done before. This is an historical decree that come from the Congregation for the Clergy specifically on the restoration of parishes. So in a way I would not call it a revolution, but maybe a rejuvenation or a restoration, which can be like the 13 colonies."
Borre, who went head-to-head with Lennon when the now Cleveland bishop closed more than 50 churches, told WKYC he was in Cleveland in an advisory capacity, not to lead any effort to bring about the quick re-opening of the 13 churches here.
"I'm the instigator," he stated. "I think it's up to these groups to decide whether they want to continue. But they have something very precious they have achieved. They would benefit by sharing information and making their own decisions, parishioner group by parishioner group."
"The lead is theirs."