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Bishop Confirms Vatican
Probe of Church Closings
BY PETER KRAUSE ©2011 Religion News Service
atholics who are still upset over what they call unwarranted church closings by Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon will have the ear of a special investigator dispatched by the Vatican.
Retired Bishop John M. Smith of Trenton, New Jersey, will be in town gathering information about Lennon's leadership, and will then submit his report to the Vatican.
Lennon said he asked for the evaluation of his leadership following a number of complaints sent directly to the Vatican in the wake of 50 church closings since August 2009 as part of diocesanwide downsizing.
"While I am confident that I am faithfully handling the responsibilities entrusted to me, I personally made this request earlier this year because a number of persons have written to Rome expressing their concerns about my leadership of the diocese," Lennon said in a statement on July 11.
Rumors of an "apostolic visit" have been swirling for months, said Sister Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, an independent reform group based in Cleveland.
"I think there have been very serious concerns about (Lennon's) leadership and I applaud this step by the Vatican to respond," she said.
Smith, 76, was the bishop for the Trenton Diocese for about 15 years before retiring last year. Before he retired, Smith managed the reconfiguration of the Trenton Diocese without serious complaint.
The diocese said there is no timetable for Smith to submit his findings, or for the report to be released publicly.