More Trouble in Connecticut

 Bishop William Lori

Regular readers of this blog will recall back in March when I posted on the situation in Connecticut where an attempt was made by anti-Catholic bigots in the state legislature to unconstitutionally interfere with the governance of the Catholic Church in that state.  Massive outrage in Connecticut and around the nation caused the anti-Catholic bigots to retreat and cancel the proposed hearing on their bill.

Now, Bishop William Lori of the Diocese of Bridgeport is reporting that the State of Connecticut has advised him that the efforts of the Diocese to publicize and fight the anti-Catholic and unconstitutional bill constituted “lobbying” and that the Diocese may be subject to civil penalties.  Let us be very clear on this point.  This is obviously an attempt by anti-Catholic bigots in Connecticut to continue their war against the Church.  Speaking out against bad legislation goes to the heart of why this country was founded.  An attack on this right is an attack on our ability to take part in how we are governed.  This attack on the Diocese of Bridgeport is an attack on every American who believes in the principles enunciated in the Declaration of Independence.  As the Bishop notes, the Diocese has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit  against this attempt by Connecticut to muzzle free speech.  This is absolutely outrageous conduct by the powers-that-be in Connecticut and should alarm not only every Catholic in this nation, but every American who cherishes freedom.

23 Responses to More Trouble in Connecticut

  1. Foxfier says:


    Jeeze, is “stupid” contagious? San Diego is doing some similar junk– harassing prayer groups, etc.

  2. Gerard E. says:

    Not stupid, Foxfier. Just the times in which we live. Was never just about these issues. We may be heading into times of persecution. Justified by horrible events like the killing of Tiller the Killer. Did you really think we would be left off the hook? Particularly for our defenses of the unborn and traditional values? Nosireebob. Gird your loins. It’s on.

  3. Foxfier says:

    If they were smart, they’d be sneakier.

    For Connecticut: make some new tax laws that require local support– have a Dem draft them, full of outrage at, oh, multi-national companies, and get Repub support because it rejects int’ntl law and gives more local control. Make sure there’s language that covers folks like that terrorist front group.
    *THEN* go for the Church when it’s established.

    For SD: make a big deal about safety regulations– didn’t they have a huge club fire a few years back? Also make noises about collecting fees so that you don’t have to make taxes higher. After everyone is use to it, THEN you jump on the little churches and prayer groups.

    This stuff is far, far too fast– even militant atheists are calling BS.

  4. Mike Petrik says:

    This may not be as pernicious as it sounds. Many states require lobbyists to register and have exceedingly broad definitions of lobbying. And in some cases the rules for tax-exempt organizations can be even stricter. It is possible that this is just a technical foot-fault called to the regulator’s attention by the opposition. Irritating as this is, it is generally true that in exchange for tax-exempt status and the ability to receive tax-deductible contributions, state and federal legislatures have imposed special restrictions on the ability of non-profits to lobby. In this case, it appears that the alleged deficiency relates only to a failure to register. If the diocese activities were limited to those listed, it strikes me as very strange that any registration would be required. That would not be the case if the diocese was sending representatives to speak with legislators. That kind of activity would be more likely to require registration.

  5. Gerard E. says:

    Also TAC editors- please correct spelling of Bishop of Bridgeport to “Lori.” Thanks.

  6. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Thanks for catching that Gerard. Correction made.

  7. Dan Riley says:

    I highly support Connecticut Bill 1098.

    In New York State, the Religious Corporation Law allows Catholic bishops to have 100% financial control of the parish, school, rectory, convent, the contents of the buildings and all of the money collected from the collection basket. They are able to run each parish community as a personal dictatorship.

    The current law allowed Bishop Matthew Clark to close 50 Catholic schools and over 25 parishes “against the will” of the parishioners, because he has total financial control. More than 75 parish and school communities were destroyed.

    The parishioners built these parish and school buildings and financially supported them for generations.

    Bishop Clark’s negative actions have driven away parishioners. Now only 23% of our parishioners attend Sunday Mass in our diocese. Two hundred and seventy thousand (270,000) parishioners stay home.

    It is time for change. Existing state laws which actually protect the bishops instead of the parishioners, have to be changed.

  8. Dan Riley says:

    Bishop Matthew Clark is the Bishop of the Diocese of Rochester, located in New York.

  9. Matt McDonald says:

    Dan Riley,

    the Church is hierarchical, it is not a democracy. Bishop Clark is the shepherd, he is responsible for those souls in his care but he doesn’t answer to them, that is the structure of the the Catholic Church ordained by God. The Bishop answers only to the Holy Father and the Lord God.

    While the bishop’s actions may be unjust, it is not right to have the state intervene and take over the administration of the Church, even if this move has the best of intentions it will backfire.

  10. Mike Petrik says:

    I agree, Matt. Canon law governs the relationship between a parish and its diocese and bishop. Civil law should not intervene.

  11. Dan Riley says:

    I understand that the Catholic Church is hierarchical and not a democracy.

    Why is it necessary to have a New York State “civil law”, to protect the bishops? This is legislation that determines ownership of all parish and school property. Civil Law is already intervening into ownership of the church.

    When my parish was closed, we were astonished to find out that the parishioners don’t own the parish and school, that they “paid” to build and maintain.

    Before the many school and parish closings, parishioners never had a reason to talk about ownership issues. Several years ago, most parishioners never knew that the bishop is basically the sole owner of the buildings, since he appoints the other 4 members of the corporation, according to the New York State Religious Corporation Law.

  12. Flambeaux says:

    These pezzinovanti actually tried to make Bill Lori “an offer he don’t refuse”?

    They are as clumsy as they are stupid.

  13. Matt McDonald says:


    the current law mirrors the Church’s structure, by allowing the Church to put control in the hands of the bishop. The Church like other institutions should have a right to establish it’s structure as it sees fit.

    What happened to your parish really? It was likely merged with another parish along with it’s assets. You are now a member of the merged parish, the assets should belong to that parish. That is how the Bishop is supposed to do it according to Canon law. If that did not happen, appeal to the Holy See, but don’t reject the authority of the Church and ask the government to step in.

    The cure you’re asking for in a specific case will be far worse than the problem you’re trying to solve.

  14. Art Deco says:

    The current law allowed Bishop Matthew Clark to close 50 Catholic schools and over 25 parishes “against the will” of the parishioners, because he has total financial control. More than 75 parish and school communities were destroyed.

    I would gather the situation in the Diocese of Rochester is similar to what it is in the Diocese of Syracuse (of which I have personal knowledge):

    1. There will within about twenty years be about fifty priests under the age of 75 if current patterns of vocational recruitment continue.

    2. There is a great deal of empty space in churches on Sunday morning. (Nationally, around two-thirds of baptized Catholics attended in any given week. The share now is about 30%. Rochester is not one of the more vibrant dioceses).

    The Church is not an architectural preservation society so, yes, parishes must close.

  15. Dan Riley says:

    A Catholic school or parish should never be closed against the “will of the parishioners” and against the will of your own Priests. This has happened most of the time in the Diocese of Rochester and it is the fastest way to lose your parishioners. That is why we lost 270,000 of them.

    It is a long sad story in the Diocese of Rochester. Please pray for the lost souls that are falling away from our Church.

  16. Art Deco says:


    The last I checked, you had over 150 parishes and missions in the Diocese of Rochester, including 87 in the City and appended tract development. Its not like you are underserviced. Again, two-thirds of baptized Catholics attended Mass in 1963 and about 30% do so now. It is not credible that closure of one in seven parishes over the last dozen years, a phenomenon to be found primarily among small country parishes, is responsible for this. Expressions of ‘will’ on the part of refractory parish councils are not going to generate more vocations; parishes who devote most of their income to building upkeep are doing a half-assed job of corporal and spiritual works. People in small towns who abandon the Mass rather than take a ten minute drive down the road to the neighboring parish and people in metropolitan centers who abandon the Mass rather than attend the parish a mile away on the other end of the same suburban township had a very potted idea of what they were doing there to begin with.

  17. Matt McDonald says:


    A Catholic school or parish should never be closed against the “will of the parishioners” and against the will of your own Priests

    you acknowledge that the Church is hierarchical, but now you’re calling for a democracy. If Christ is the head of the Church, and the pope is His Vicar then you must acknowledge that the authority is from above not, below as in a democracy.

    When the people rule the Church it will be the end.

  18. timorhy miller says:

    dear readers,

    There is no reason either theologically, historically, or biblically that Catholic parishes cannot be run democratically. I believe that such was the intention of the Vatican II fathers whom I believe were inspired by the Holy Spirit as are the fathers of all ecumenical councils. Many religious orders have been allowed to write their on regula (rules)some of which give a great deal of power to the members of the order. In the middle ages, leprosaria allowed lepers to run their institutions and even hire and fire their priests. A similar sort of regulum could be established for parishes. Parishers should be allowed to approve their pastors and overturn action of the pastors which they don’t like. Pastors should only be free of the supervision of their parishioners regarding doctrine and morals. That is all. Mass schedules, finances, whether to close the parish or not — those should be the decision of the parishioners. There is absolutely no heresy in what I have said. The Catholic Church only began opposing democracy in the eighteenth century when such ideas were bound together with Enlightenment deism. Until the twelfth century all bishops were elected, and popes were elected by the “people of Rome” for centuries. In medieval Venice and Florence parishioners were allowed to elect their pastors. In such a climate of shared responsibility the sex abuse scandal would have stopped at the parish level.

  19. Donald R. McClarey says:

    “Until the twelfth century all bishops were elected, and popes were elected by the “people of Rome” for centuries.”

    Completely untrue, but thank you for playing.

  20. timorhy miller says:

    How is that untrue? Bishops were elected by the canons of their cathedrals and the popes fought against both the holy Roman emperors and the kings of france to preserve the free elections of bishops. Popes were elected by the people of rome through the fourth century and perhaps longer. I actually don’t know exactly the stages by which election of popes was limited to clergy. Cardinal clergy, the equivalent of canons in regular cathedrals, only gradually came to monopolize the right to elect the pope.

    Tim Miller

  21. Donald R. McClarey says:

    The clergy of Rome elected the popes in the earliest times with the approval of some laity after the election. The popes were never elected by a general vote of the people of Rome. The modes of choosing bishops varied from diocese to diocese, but there was never a universal process of election or a universal mode of how an election was to be conducted.

  22. timorhy miller says:

    I don’t think that you are right on papal elections. The people participated, and even violently. Which was one of the reasons for limiting the elections increasingly to clergy, and eventually to cardinal clergy to elimate the influence of the Holy Roman Emperor. In 1046 Emperor Henry III simply deposed the pope and put in his candidate. Election of bishops by canons was almost universal. If by a general rule you mean a canon law you are probably right but for the first 1000 years of Catholic history bishops were elected (including the pope). The circle of electors got smaller, but I would mark that up to political reasons, not theological. My point is the Holy Spirit moves in the church through its members. There is no reason that the Church could not include more participation in choosing pastors, bishops, and popes and in having some oversight of them. I am convinced that that is the way the Spirit is moving the Church and the sex scandals are simply the result of standing in the way of the Spirit. By the way, in the last ten minutes I also read a story of horrible fiancial abuse by a priest in Connecticut which is one of the reasons this attempt to force parishes to reorganize with more lay oversight was begun. Not to destroy the church, but dare I use the word “reform” it or perhaps aggiornizzarla (more in keeping with Vatican II).

    Tim MIller

  23. Donald R. McClarey says:

    Mob violence isn’t participation, it is simply mob violence.

    “There is no reason that the Church could not include more participation in choosing pastors, bishops, and popes and in having some oversight of them.”

    There are plenty of Protestant churches that use such a style of governance, almost always with disastrous results. I do not want the Church to be dominated by hundreds of millions of Popes. Laity involvement in the choice of priests, bishops and popes is an abysmally bad idea.

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