Parishioners of closing parish sue..

Members of the closed St. James Catholic Church, whose 10-month, around-the-clock prayer vigil was unceremoniously halted by the Toledo diocese in March, have filed a lawsuit against the diocese and Bishop Leonard Blair seeking control of their former parish’s property and assets.

“Our first goal in the suit is to have everything reopened and returned to the previous status,” parishioner Steve Johnson said yesterday. “Barring that, we want to get the building and the property that we and our ancestors have put our time, effort, and money into.”

The suit, filed in Seneca County Common Pleas Court, claims the diocese has “unlawfully deprived the plaintiffs of the right to access and worship in the church facility.”

It asks the court to declare that Bishop Blair was acting as a trustee of the church property and its parish account and that parishioners were the true owners.

“We are only looking at civil law, not church law,” Mr. Johnson said.

Who knows how things were handled and how the process was felt on the closing end, but when you read, as you do at the end of this piece, that a group of parishioners have continued to meet in a Methodist church for weekly prayers services, and have a priest of the Polish National Church come say Mass for them once a month…you wonder. Some parish closings are inevitable. A few might be unjust. But this kind of sad obsession bespeaks shaky catechesis and unintentionally explains a lot.

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