Parishoners at the now-shuttered St. Ann church in Bristol have hired Italian lawyers to challenge Archbishop Charles Chaput’s decision to close their church. St. Ann was one of five Bucks County churches closed in June, amid another round of budget cutting by the the archdiocese.
The parishioners hired Boston-based consultant Peter Borre and two lawyers based in Italy who are familiar with canon law to handle the appeal over the closure of their church. Borre recommended they also ask the Congregation for the Bishops, the senior personnel department of the Vatican, to look into how Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is overseeing the archdiocese.
“We are asking for a formal investigation of Archbishop Chaput’s stewardship of the archdiocese because we contend that the cure is becoming worse than the disease,” he said.
“The reason is, under canon law, the parish is the block of Catholicism, the place where the people encounter God,” Borre said. “The parish should be protected, not destroyed.”
Officials with the archdiocese defended Chaput, noting that he had been entrusted with helping organize next year’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and has more recently been appointed by Pope Frances to the Pontifical Council for the Laity. “Both of those facts objectively point to the confidence the Vatican has in his ability and leadership,” Kenneth Gavin, the director of communications for the archdiocese, told the paper.