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Church Militant Raps Manchester Diocese for Closing Historic Parish, Denying Due Process

Updated: Aug 3, 2019

MONDAY, JULY 1, 2019:

In a June 25th story by reporter Anita Carey, denounced the embattled Diocese of Manchester for circumventing canon law, misleading parishioners, and depriving Catholics of their canonical rights. Through the apparent misdirection of the troubled Diocese and its controversial canonist, the Reverend Georges de Laire, Catholics opposed to the closing of the beautiful and historic Saint Joseph's Church in Laconia have been given only a limited opportunity to exercise their right, under canon law, to appeal the closure.

According to the ChurchMilitant story, parishioners were told by Bishop Peter Libasci in May that the church would be sold and razed to the ground this summer. They were also told that the appeals process could not begin until a diocesan decree relegating the church to profane use was issued.

Now, according to de Laire, the decree will not be made official until after the purchase and sale agreement is finalized, and just before the demolition contract takes effect, making a timely appeal difficult, and possibly academic. The Diocese has already sought a demolition permit from the City of Laconia.

One parishioner complained that she was met with “total silence from the Diocese” when she and others attempted to speak with the bishop about parishioners assuming financial obligations to sustain the church.

Saint Joseph's, a splendid example of 20th century Gothic revival, was constructed in 1929. The parish dates back to a mission established in 1845. Citizens of Laconia, both Catholic and non-Catholic, believe the church is an integral part of the historic, cultural and architectural fabric of the city and ought to be preserved.

According to a recent report in Crux, some forty percent of parishioners leave the Catholic Faith following the closure of their church.

In a disturbing and revealing interview in the The Laconia Daily Sun, de Laire actually admitted that the diocese had not responded to efforts by the Saint Joseph's Catholic Church Preservation Society to negotiate an acceptable resolution of the controversy. DeLaire went on to insist that even if parishioners could maintain the church building, it would not matter.

The bishop,” said de Laire, “will always have absolute say as to what places of worship are used for in his diocese. Even if a building is owned by an entity that is not recognized by the church, for Catholic worship to take place in that building, the owner must seek permission from the diocese… They cannot ensure it, it is not in their hands to ensure it. The bishop has absolute say in what buildings are used for Catholic worship.”

Friends of Saint Benedict Center Communications Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: “The post conciliar Church is supposed to be ‘pastoral’ in its approach to the flock. De Laire’s words suggest the pettifogging, Pharisaical and authoritarian methods of some arbitrary and unaccountable bureaucrat. The only 'accompaniment' he offers is to the exit doors of the Faith.”

“The noted historian of the English Reformation, A. G. Dickens, maintained that it was not enthusiasm for Protestant theology, but simple anti-clericalism, that drove much of the opposition to the Church in 16th century England. Dickens stated that one of the foremost factors was what he described as the ‘legalism and fiscalism’ of the ecclesiastical bureaucracy. Legalism and fiscalism would appear to be apt descriptions for the modus operandi of the Diocese of Manchester, and its Judicial Vicar, Georges de Laire. It would seem that de Laire has forgotten the guiding principle and ultimate provision of the Code of Canon Law---the Supreme Law of the Church is the salvation of souls.’”

• • • • •

The Friends of Saint Benedict Center was established in March of 2019 to provide moral and material support to the Saint Benedict Center in its efforts to lawfully resist the heavy handed attempts by the troubled Diocese of Manchester to completely suppress their flourishing religious community. Those wishing to support the Brothers and Sisters of the Saint Benedict Center in their struggle to preserve their apostolate, made do so here.


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