(Indianapolis, Ind.) - The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is expecting some southeast Indiana churches to appeal the Archdiocese’ decision to close or merge them.
Archbishop Joseph Tobin announced June 6 that seven Batesville Deanery churches in Dearborn, Ripley, and Franklin counties would be closed because of a lack of priests. They are Holy Guardian Angel in Cedar Grove, St. Mary of the Rock in Batesville, St. John the Baptist in Dover, St. Joseph in St. Leon, St. Martin in Yorkville, St. Paul in New Alsace, and St. Pius in Ripley County.
Right now, there is a 10 useful day window for members of those parishes to appeal the decision. Individuals with at least two of the churches – St. Martin and Holy Guardian Angel – may be planning appeals, said Greg Otolski, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
“We expected to be getting some (opinions from parishioners),” Otolski said Thursday, adding that it will likely take another week to sort through and separate letters from formal appeals.
The 10 useful days – not necessarily business days – to formally appeal will likely expire next Tuesday or Wednesday. The Archdiocese usually has about four useful days a week, Otolski said.
The process is not an easy one. Otolski explains that the appeal must be made by an individual, not a group or the parish as a whole. It would likely requiring a canon lawyer, a person familiar with canon law, to make arguments for keeping a church open.
The Archbishop could then reverse or change the plan. Otolski speculated that would be unlikely, considering the time the Archdiocese put into its decision.
If the Archbishop stays the course despite an appeal, the individual and canon lawyer would have to argue the case to a Vatican congregation to get the Archdiocese’s decision changed or overturned.
“But those reversals don’t happen very often,” Otolski said.
The Archbishop will have 30 days to respond to an appeal. Any response likely wouldn’t be until after Tobin returns from a visit to Rome in early July, said Otolski.
Under the Archdiocese’s plan, Holy Guardian Angel Church will close and merge with St. Michael Church in Brookville by December 1, 2013.
St. Martin Church will join with St. John the Baptist in Dover, St. Joseph in St. Leon, and St. Paul in New Alsace to form one parish with four worship sites by December 1. The new consolidated parish will reduce to just two worship sites by November 30, 2014.
More details on the Batesville Deanery church closures and mergers announced June 6 can be found here.