Fight for Corpus Christi Parish continuesTuesday, October 01, 2013 by: Kate AdamsFile photo
Former Corpus Christi Parishioners
Today marks the occasion of the re-opening of the Roman Rota, “the highest court of appeal of the Roman Catholic Church and, with respect to judicial trials conducted in the Catholic Church, the highest ecclesiastical court constituted by the Holy See.” (Wikipedia)
Earlier this year, five members of the now closed Corpus Christi Parish appealed to the Roman Rota the matter of the sale of the church of Corpus Christi by the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie. They argue that the sale of the church did not follow the laws of the Roman Catholic Church (known as the Code of Canon Law) which govern the sale of church property.
The facts in support of their case presented to the Roman Rota are as follows:
1. The agreement of sale of the church and associated property was entered into on December 3, 2010. This date was made public by a decree of the Congregation for the Clergy in Vatican City in February of 2012 and is therefore beyond question.
2. According to Church law, the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie did not have the right to enter into an agreement of sale on that date because the parish of Corpus Christi still existed. Since it still existed, only the pastor of the parish, who at the time was Fr. Kenneth Gauthier, had the right to give his approval of any sale of property owned by the parish. There is no evidence that such approval was either sought or given.
Thus, it is clear that the Diocese of Sault Ste. Marie sold an asset, the parish church, which belonged to another legal entity, the parish of Corpus Christi, thereby violating the Canons 532 and 1715 which state that
1. In all [legal] affairs the pastor represents the parish according to the norm of law.
2. An agreement … cannot be made validly concerning matters which pertain to the public good and other matters about which the parties cannot make disposition freely [and] the formalities established by law for the [sale] of [church property] are to be observed whenever the matter demands it.
It is expected that the Roman Rota will issue a decree within the coming weeks as to whether or not they will see fit to hear the case.
“Earlier, the Congregation for the Clergy refused to hear our appeal of the decision to render the church available for sale based on a procedural matter,” said Phillip Penna, one of the five former parishioners who have launched the appeal.
“Since the act of selling the church is a separate legal action from the decision to make it available for sale, we are hopeful that the Rota will agree to hear the case we have put before them.”