June 15, 2005
Peter Borré, 617-448-3850, email@example.com
COUNCIL OF PARISHES LETTER ASKS BISHOP SKYLSTAD TO REAFFIRM
THE RIGHTS OF PARISHES UNDER CANON LAW
) — The Council of Parishes today released a letter signed
by its Co-Chairs and sent yesterday to Bishop William
Skylstad of the Diocese of Spokane, in his capacity as
President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The letter requests Bishop Skylstad to use the
opportunity of the Bishop’s conference to reaffirm the
rights of parishes and parishioners under Canon Law, or
church law, as the law pertains to ownership of parish
property, assets, and gifts.
The conference meets in
letter states that the reconfiguration process underway in
the Archdiocese of Boston, involving the closing of dozens
of parishes by the archdiocese, “is in direct violation of
canon law,” because under canon law the parish property is
not the property of the diocese or the bishop (Canon 1256).
In support of this position:
The Council’s letter refers to affidavits
recently filed by Bishop Skylstad himself and by his canon
lawyer, Nicholas Cafardi, in the bankruptcy proceeding
involving the bishop’s own diocese; these affidavits state
in the strongest terms that bishops do not own parishes, and
that parish assets cannot be used to settle debts of the
diocese, a practice “abhorrent to the Canon Law.” (Cafardi
affidavit, paragraph 40)
The Council’s letter includes a Supplement
to a canonical appeal recently filed in
with the Congregation of the Clergy by one of the Council
members, a group from the Infant Jesus/St. Lawrence Parish
The supplement to the Council’s letter
quotes Dean Cafardi’s statement (Cafardi affidavit,
“A diocesan bishop is subject to the Code of
Canon Law in the same way that every Catholic is subject.
Should a diocesan bishop violate these canons, he is
subject to penalties for these violations, including the
penalty of loss of ecclesiastical office.”
The Council urges Bishop Skylstad to “issue a clear policy
statement reaffirming the conclusions set out in your and
Dean Cafardi’s affidavits,” and to “seek the
intervention of the Holy See to protect the rights of
parishes to a stable existence.”
Copies of this
letter and attachment have been sent to the Prefect of the
Congregation of the Clergy in
, to the Papal Pro-Nuncio to the
United States of America
, and to the Archbishop of Boston.
The Council of Parishes consists of 15 Boston-area
parishioner groups as members, and five observer groups.
The Council was formed last fall in response to the
flawed parish reconfiguration process designed and executed
by the Archbishop of Boston.