Lockport, NY (WKBW-Release)
A decree issued by the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, has upheld Bishop Edward U. Kmiec’s decision to designate St. Mary Church in Lockport to an oratory, effective Sept. 1, 2011.
On February 3, 2008, St. Anthony, St. Joseph and St. Patrick parishes in Lockport merged under the name of All Saints Parish, using St. Patrick Church as the primary worship site. St. Joseph Church became an oratory while St. Anthony Church was closed.
St. Mary Parish was part of the original decree, and was to be merged into All Saints Parish with St. Mary Church to be closed. But St. Mary’s parishioners elected to appeal Bishop Kmiec’s decree to the Vatican, which was within their rights under Canon Law.
While the appeal was pending, St. Mary’s remained open as an independent parish. At the Vatican, both the Congregation for the Clergy and the Apostolic Signatura, upheld both the procedure and the substance of Bishop Kmiec’s decision to merge St. Mary’s into All Saints Parish.
Based on the Vatican’s new reluctance not to approve church closures, on June 14, 2011, Bishop Kmiec revised the original decree that called for St. Mary’s to close. In the new decree, on Sept. 1, St. Mary’s will merge into All Saints Parish and St. Mary Church will become an oratory of All Saints Parish. An oratory is a worship site that may be used for marriages, funerals and other occasional religious celebrations at the discretion of the pastor, but it does not have regularly scheduled weekend or weekday Masses.
Issued in Latin, the Vatican decree stated that by revoking his original decision and decreeing that St. Mary’s would serve as an oratory, “the object of controversy has been removed and the issue resolved. The legal controversy is declared to be and is in fact ended.”
“This has been a long, difficult, emotional journey for everyone involved,” Bishop Kmiec said. “Now that the appeals process has been completed, it is my hope
healing can begin and that St. Mary’s parishioners will find new faith homes in any of our parishes in the Lockport area.”