Archbishop Charles Chaput has rejected appeals from five Philadelphia-area parishes that do not want to close or merge. The appeals came from among 29 parishes that were shuttered or merged July 1.
Cathy Bongiovi wasn’t surprised the appeal for St. Ann Church in Bristol, Bucks County, was denied.
“We kind of expected it because other churches had already been denied,” she said.
Still, she wasn’t not happy about it. So Bongiovi, a longtime St. Ann’s parishioner, is taking the appeals fight to a higher authority: the Vatican.
“We’ve already begun steps to appeal to Rome, and there are certain procedures you have to follow through canon law,” she said. “But we have a consultant in Boston and two attorneys in Rome that are working for us and we have not given up hope.”
Bongiovi said the church is accepting donations to help pay what is expected to be a $30,000 bill to fund the appeal.
“We are aware that once our paperwork is filed with Rome, it could take up to a year until we get a formal response,” she said. “So we will wait and pray and hope for the best.”
Other churches that filed appeals include Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Bridgeport, Notre Dame de Lourdes in Swarthmore, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in Bensalem and St. John of the Cross in Roslyn.
Chaput denied the appeals because he saw no evidence that would warrant reversing his initial decisions, a spokesman said.