March 5, 2007
We appeal to you to reconsider the decisions by the Archdiocese of New York to close the parishes of Our Lady Queen of Angels in East Harlem and Our Lady of Vilnius in Manhattan.
We have followed closely the parish realignment effort in our archdiocese. We understand that some parishes must be closed or merged. We recognize the difficult task you have undertaken in arriving at these decisions. We suggest, however, that in the case of Our Lady Queen of Angels, the decision to suppress this parish deserves to be reviewed, for the following reasons:
- No explanation has ever been given to the parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Angels as to the specific reasons for their closing.
- Apart from the May 9, 2006 meeting between a group of parishioners and Bishop Dennis Sullivan, no meaningful dialogue has taken place between the parishioners and the Archdiocese to explore feasible ways of continuing the life of this faith community.
- The Archdiocese has never responded to the financial proposals presented by the parishioners on May 9, 2006 for the ongoing support of the parish.
- The parishioners have appealed to you to engage in a dialogue with them, but their entreaties have been met with silence, arrests, and the summary closing of the church prior to the scheduled date of March 1.
In the case of Our Lady of Vilnius, parishioners were never given an opportunity to meet with Bishop Dennis Sullivan to appeal the closing of their parish. Moreover, the precipitous manner in which the parish was shut, without consideration or ceremony, on Monday, February 26th, was disrespectful to its pastor and parishioners, and brought shame upon the Catholic Church itself. The actions of the Archdiocese in this case did not meet minimum standards of Christian behavior.
In this Lenten season, we call upon you to:
Explain publicly the closure decisions.
Work with the parishioners to explore openly and in good faith all possible options for the continued existence of the parishes of Our Lady Queen of Angels and Our Lady of Vilnius.
Ask the District Attorney of the City of New York to drop the arrest charges against the six parishioners arrested at the church on Monday, February 12, without preconditions.
Direct your representatives to meet with all parishioners in all parishes to be closed or merged, to explain the decisions made by the Archdiocese, and to assist them as they seek to find new spiritual homes for themselves and for their families.
Respectfully submitted by Voice of the Faithful New York
119 West 23rd Street, New York, NY 10011
cc. Parishioners of Our Lady Queen of Angels and of Our Lady of Vilnius