Back in July, Cleveland's Bishop Richard Lennon welcomed a Vatican inquiry into his decision to close parishes, and interpreted it as a review of his leadership of the diocese. "This visit will be an opportunity to gather extensive information on all aspects of the activities of the Diocese and will allow for an objective assessment of my leadership," he said.The result is a startling decision [PDF from Cleveland Plain-Dealer] to reverse Bishop Lennon's closure of 13 parishes. As the FutureChurch organization put it, "This is a landmark decision. For the first time the Vatican has powerfully upheld the rights of Catholics to have an appropriate voice in determining the future of their parish by overruling a diocesan bishop's decision to suppress 13 parishes."What will happen next? That depends on whether the bishop will accept this "objective assessment" - or appeal.
Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).