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Parishioners Opposition to Request for Restraining Order

Parishioners Opposition to Request for Restraining Order

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Published by MassLive2
Mater Dolorosa parishioners filing in opposition to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield's request for a preliminary injunction.
Mater Dolorosa parishioners filing in opposition to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield's request for a preliminary injunction.

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Published by: MassLive2 on Oct 12, 2011
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10/12/2011

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v
Hampden,
ss,
CommonwealthofMassachusettsTheTrialCourtHampdenSuperiorCourtCivilActionNo.11-831RomanCatholicBishop
of
Springfield,
a
CorporationSolePlaintiff
v.'
OPPOSITIONTOREQUESTFORPRELIMINARYRESTRAININGORDERVictorAnop,PeterStasz,HelenSulewski,HelenDomurat.,etals,.Defendants
NowcometheDefendants,
by
counsels,andofferoppositiontorequestforprel~naryrestrainingorderasfollows:INTRODUCTIONTheRomanCatholicBishopofSpringfield(hereinafter"ReB"),isseekingapreliminaryrestrainingorder-atthistimetostopthememberParishionersofMaterDolorosaChurchfromcontinuing
a
prayervigtlbegunatthechurchsiteinHolyoke,Massachusetts
June
30,2011
an~
continuingtopresent."RCB"hasclosed/merS{ed69churchessince2001.Theissuesinthiscaseraiseseriousreligiousissues·(ecclesiasticalandhierarchical)andalsoFirstAmendmentRightsissuesasweJ.lasseparation
of
churchandstateissues.As
a
matteroflaw,ithas
been
held
that
suchecclesiasticalmattersin
a
hierarchicalchurcharenotreviewable
by
civilcourts.(emphasisadded)DefendantsareappellantsinaCanonLawdisputewith
"RCB"
overthei.r
ohurch
cl.osing(9/29/11)beforetheCongregationfortheClergy(CongregatioProClericis)whichisaChurchTribunalinRome,Italythatdecidesissuesofchurchlawinconfidentialproceedings.
 
Backgro~nd
"RCB"andits$ubor~inatefFatherA1exCymerman,(Agent)fQr.merPastorofMaterDolorosaChurch,haverefusedtorevealdetailedinformationtotheDefendantParishionersregardingtherationaleforclosingthechurchincludingcriticalfinancialdata,andchurchcomparisonsdatawhichledtothetounil.ateraldecisionof"RCB"toclosethechurchonJune
30,
2011withoutmeaningful.parishionerinput.Church~embershavebeenignored.
On
June30,2011many
of
thepaidmemberparishionersstayedonatthechurch,
and
spontaneo~slybegan
a
24
hou~
a
dayprayervigil,includingrosaryprayermeetingswithhymnsinging.TheBishophasfailedtocommunicatewiththeparishioners.Thepeacefulprayervigilhascontinued-forover100days.TheBishophasrefusedtohavedialoguewiththemembersdespitetheiropenrequestsforhisattentiontotheirneedsandsouls.
There
are
7
Mass.prayervigilson-going,2inWesternMass.
"RCa"
hasclaimedthattheir"PastoralPlanningCommittee"was
a
fairbodyinclQsinqchurches,butth~Membersdisagree.(See:AffidavitsofDefendants,Exhibit1)
When
parishionersmetwithMonsignorB-onzagniinMayof2011
he
toldthemasPastoralPlanningComm.itteeheadthat
they
weregoing"backtosquareOne"reqardi.ngtheissueofMaterDolorosaclosing.Fourweekslaterthe"RCB"announcedthechurchwould
be
closed/merged.After100daysofvigil,the
"RCB"
filedthisactioncl.aimingthatthesteepleofthechurchwasgoingtofail,thememberssafetyisatriskandthatthepaidchurchmembersprayingatchurchshouldberestrained.TheentirematterispendinginRome.(See:Affidavits,Exhibit1)
-2-
 
ARGUMENT1.
IN
MATTERSOFECCLESIASTICALDISPUTESOFA
HiERARCHICALCHURCHTHECIVILCOURTSHAVENO
STANDING
&
THE
"ReB'''
UST
AWAIT.CANON
REMEDIESThe"ReB"is
a
Catholicreligiousorganization,
a
'corporationsole,organi~ed
by
1awtoprovideforthesoulsoftheirfollowing.
Th~
FirstamendmentoftheConstitutionallowstheinternald~sputesbetweenpeopleofthechurches
to
besettled
by
thehierarchicalchurchrules,inaccordancewiththeirlaw,andbeforetheirtribunals.
It
hasbeenwellsettledlawinthisCommonwealththatFederalandstategovernments,inaccordancewith
the
concept
of
"Separation
of
ChurchandState"and"FreedomofReligion"aretorefrainfrQInimposingseculargovernanceoverecclesiasticaldisputes.{See:
Whee~·erv.
RomanCa
tholiaArchdiocese
of
Boston,
378
Mass.
58,60,61,&64)
"RCB"
and
the
Bishop
are
ultimatelysupervisedandcontrolled
by
theRomanCatholicChUrchandthe
Pope's
religiousframeworkinRomeunderthetenetsofCanonLaw.Thisiswheretheappealsof
th~
MaterDolorosaChurchDefendantsarependinginRomebetween
"RCB"
&
MaterDolorosaParishionersregardingthechurchclosing/~ergeranda11collateralissues.(CongregationForClergy,Rome,Italy,ProtocolNo.20112390)
The
Defendantscontendthattheirprayervigilis
a
protectedreligiousaswellasa£reespeechactivity,whichis
a
partoftheirdisputewiththe
"RCB",
thatwillbeaddressed
in
thedeliberationsanddecisionsofthevaticanTribunals.Therearesix
(6)
otherprayervigilscurrentlybeingconductedinMassachusetts
at
this
t~e
without
litiqation.(See:
Aff.ofV.Anop,Ex.l)
-3-

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