Thursday, May 17, 2007

Catholic Congregation Sues Diocese in Mississippi

PASS CHRISTIAN, Miss. (AP) — Bishop Thomas J. Rodi says he is deeply saddened by a lawsuit filed by more than 150 members of Holy Family Parish, formerly St. Paul Parish in Pass Christian.

The suit, filed May 1, names Rodi, the Diocese of Biloxi and Holy Family pastor the Rev. Dennis Carver as defendants. The bishop's response was published Friday in the Gulf Pine Catholic, the diocese's newspaper, and was reprinted on

The lawsuit asks the court to compel the diocese to rebuild the church on the beach and get an accounting of donations made to the church after Hurricane Katrina.

Rodi writes that the lawsuit "is not in keeping with our understanding of the fundamental nature of the Catholic Church. We are a church, not independent congregations. In faith, worship and practice, we are in union."
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"If this lawsuit would be successful, it would mean, in effect, that the courts would tell the Catholic Church where God must be worshipped, where Mass and other sacraments must be celebrated and how the Catholic Church must use the financial resources of Holy Family Parish," he wrote. "This lawsuit attacks both the unity and the liberty of the Church."
That's why throughout history civil courts are rarely party to "disagreements" in matters of this sort - but we live in a new era today.

Perhaps Ed Peters can offer some canonical insights about this?

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