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JUST IN: COLONIALS LEASE EXTENDED … SPLIT DECISION FOR PROTESTERS AT ST. STAN’S: VATICAN REJECTS and UPHOLDS APPEAL; WILL THE CHURCH RE-OPEN?

BY DAN VALENTI

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This update on another breaking story (we post this at 8:45 p.m. 2/15/11):

The Pittsfield Parks Commission, by a 5-0 unanimous vote, extended the Pittsfield Colonials’ license at Wahconah Park  from May 2011 through September of 2013.

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We return now to our featured story on the former St. Stanislaus Kostka church

The Vatican has issued its decision in the case of St. Stanlislaus Church in Adams, which the diocese has wanted to close and protesters have occupied for more than two years.

Yes and No: Solomon Splits the Baby in Two

His Eminence Mauro Cardinal Piacenza signed Rome’s four-page decree “affirm[ing] the decision by the Diocese of Springfield relating to the suppression and merger,” according to Laurie Haas of the former St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, one of the leaders of the occupation. In plain English, the Vatican sided with Bishop Timothy McDonnell of Springfield and against the parishioners of St. Stan’s.
The decree, though, appears to uphold the appeal on the basis that Bishop McDonnell did not provide “the necessary grave motivations” for his decision.
The arcane wording of the decree seems to both reject and affirm the claims of both the Diocese and the protesters, who have been staging their occupation of the church since Dec. 26, 2008. On Sept. 8, Haas et. al. filed an appeal of McDonnell’s decision based on canon law. The Vatican, however, ruled that the appeal had no basis in canonical law. The decree, dated Jan. 25, 2011, from the Vatican in Rome, is cosigned by Nsgr. Celso Morga Iruzubieta, secretary of the Congregation of the Clergy.
In the second part of the decision, the Vatican rejects the parishioners’ claim that Bishop ODonnell’s “reduction of St. Stanislaus Kostka, Adams, to profane but not unbecoming use” was illegal “de procedento” (procedurally), because “the necessary consultation took place” and that the bishop “understood himself to be issuing a decree of reduction to profane use.” However, it upheld the parishioners “de deccernendo” (“on the determination of facts”) “insofar as the necessary grave motivations for the decisions are not provided in the acts.”

Diocese Has No Comment on Ruling

Mark Dupont, spokesman for Bishop McDonnell, reached in Boston for comment this morning, said, “I have talked to bishop. We are not in receipt of that document yet. We have not formally received it, and we are not at liberty to comment on it.”
Haas said that “while the language of the decree is complex,” the decision means that the church “must be reopened as a place of Catholic divine worship. We can only speculate as to how the Bishop of Springfield … will implement this historic decision.” Haas said she had her canonical lawyers review the document.
One lawyer told The Planet the decision looked as if the Vatican didn’t want to make a decision. Cautioning that she hadn’t read the decree but was relying only on summary, she said the ambiguous ruling could probably mean whatever  Bishop McDonnell wanted it to mean.
It is clear that the petitioners did not “win” nor did the Vatican “lose.” One can also say that both sides “won” and “lost.” It would seem premature to declare, on the basis of Rome’s decision, that St. Stanislaus would reopen as a parish.
Haas says the 200 petitioner’s “look forward to a respectful dialogue” with the bishop on the fate of St. Stan’s. She said, “We are open to a wide range of solutions that may be proposed by the bishop … to preserve St. Stan’s as a Roman Catholic place of worship.”
Bishop Did Not Demonstrate ‘Grave Cause’ for Closing

Based on this statement as well as the confusing language of the decree, it’s not clear that St. Stan’s will or will not reopen as a church. As of this moment, pending authoritative decree from the bishop, it would seem — seem, we say — that the petitioners have a basis to believe that it will.
The decree found the bishop’s arguments for closing and merging parishes in this case “exhaustive.” It found that the diocese followed procedures that were “correct and that the motivations presented” for the closing were “reasonable and in accord with” canon law.
It further said that in its original decree on St. Stan’s, the diocese “made no mention” of closing the church, noting that “the modification of a Parish does not in any way automatically include … closure …”. In other words, the diocese needed to conduct “an objective and separate process” to demonstrate “grave cause” for the closing, which it did not do.
In another interesting part of the Vatican’s ruling (clause 9), it revealed that while the bishop issued a “formal decree for the ‘merger’ of the parish of St. Stanislaus Kostka with the parish of Notre Dame,” it’s not clear “that this formal document was ever communicated to the community of the faithful to which it is addressed.” That would appear to be a major lapse on the part of the diocese, indicating either that it was not familiar with the need to do so or, being familiar, deliberately withheld this information.

14 Responses to “JUST IN: COLONIALS LEASE EXTENDED … SPLIT DECISION FOR PROTESTERS AT ST. STAN’S: VATICAN REJECTS and UPHOLDS APPEAL; WILL THE CHURCH RE-OPEN?”

  1. editor
    February 15, 2011 at 9:32 am #

    Boy there’s a scoop!!!

  2. Still wondering
    February 15, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Well how about that! Congaratulations to the parishoners.

  3. No Reply
    February 15, 2011 at 10:08 am #

    Well, this is a huge scoop. This story has been going for two years, it made Time magazine, the eagle has run updates, the bishop of springfield hasn’t even received the ruling according to valentis story … yet valenti breaks it. this proves whats been rumoried that he has contacts in rome. Hey “editor” above, don’t fight it enjoy it!

    • editor
      February 15, 2011 at 10:35 am #

      I do enjoy Busting Dan’s chops!! Too bad the parishioners got “rear ended” by the Vatican again!

      • danvalenti
        February 15, 2011 at 12:40 pm #

        editor
        They did and they didn’t. The (admittedly self-confessed non-canonical) lawyers to whom we showed the decree agree only that the Vatican’s ruling is confusing. We will interested in hearing what the bishop says.

        • editor
          February 15, 2011 at 1:16 pm #

          10 bucks says the Bishop keeps it closed! Too Bad.

  4. simon Sez
    February 15, 2011 at 12:42 pm #

    Nice work, Planet. You beat the Eagle again. They had it online after you did. Probably got it from you!

  5. Liz Arrington
    February 15, 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Well, it’s not about who has the story first but which one is the most accurate. The Planet says that it’s not clear what the fate of the church will be. The Eagle says flatly that the church will re-open. Who’s right? I’m a reader but not a fan of this site. Still it’s impressive how Mr. Valenti or his staff is able to gather and report news compared to the Pittsfield daily.

    • danvalenti
      February 15, 2011 at 1:17 pm #

      LIZ
      Thanks. Rome’s ruling may lead to the reopening, but the language of the decree is not explicit. I checked the Eagle’s coverage. It ran an anonymous staff report from unnamed reporters at the Transcript and Eagle. The story had this sentence: “The decree states the church building must be re-opened as a place of worship but does not define how McDonnell should proceed.”

      Nowhere does the Vatican decree say that. Laurie Haas, in her press release, wrote: “As a result, St. Stan’s must be reopened as a place of Catholic divine worship.” With all due respect to Ms. Haas, The Planet prefers a more formal declaration on this from the only authoritative body in the case: The Diocese of Springfield.

      We made the editorial judgment not to run Ms. Haas’ statement that the church “must be reopened.” We do not find that language in the report. Now either the Eagle did find that language, meaning they have a separate document from the Planet’s (we have the official Vatican text, in English) or it ran as a statement of fact an unattributed conjecture. Our standards would not allow us to do that. We won’t speak for theirs.

  6. 'nuff said
    February 15, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Too bad that these people spend so much time fighting over where to worship. I wonder if they spend as much time actually worshiping Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour! After all Jesus is the reason for………………, well, EVERYTHING!

    • GMHeller
      February 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

      Not necessarily, at least not according to our Great Leader Barack Obama, peace be upon him, who wishes too stress the overarching greatness and magnificence of the Prophet Muhammed.
      As-Salamu Alaykum.
      Allahu Akbar

      • Joetaxpayer
        February 15, 2011 at 2:32 pm #

        Bless you

  7. Joetaxpayer
    February 15, 2011 at 2:44 pm #

    Mass Live has story regarding St.Stans,make it sound like parrish will close, church will open.Bishop has 60 days to appeal. Good luck to all.

  8. Paulson
    February 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

    Great job, Planet.