Vatican Upholds Diocese's Consolidation Of Panther Valley Parishes

The Vatican Congregation for Clergy has rejected appeals filed by parishioners of the former St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Nesquehoning and the former St. Katharine Drexel Parish in Lansford who objected to the July 1, 2016 consolidation of their parishes into St. Joseph Parish in Summit Hill.

In separate, six-page decisions signed by Cardinal Benjamin Stella, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Clergy, the Congregation found that the petitions for hierarchical recourse filed by St. Francis and St. Katharine Drexel parishioners do not "have any canonical basis either in law or in fact" and are "rejected."

In both rulings, the Congregation "accepts the evidence that the actions taken by the Ordinary (Bishop) were necessary to prevent all three parishes in Panther Valley becoming non-viable and insolvent. It is satisfied that he has sought to establish one viable parish, which will be able to carry out the mission of the Church in that area well into the future."

Petitioners in Lansford also sought recourse against the closing of Our Lady of the Angels Academy. The Congregation for Clergy said that question has been transferred to the Congregation for Catholic Education, which has competence in that area. The Diocese has not received any notification from that Congregation on the status of that appeal.

The parishioners who filed the recourse petitions have been notified by the Vatican of its decision and may appeal the Congregation's rejection of their petitions to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court.

Diocese of Allentown Administrator Monsignor Alfred A. Schlert said, "It is the Diocese's hope and prayer that with this ruling by the Vatican, all efforts will be directed toward helping to make St. Joseph Parish in Summit Hill, the spiritual home of all the faithful in the Panther Valley."

Contact: Matt Kerr
               610-871-5200, Extension 2265