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Why Most Appeals are Denied

One Canon Lawyer’s Opinion

My experience has been that cases have been turned down for the following reasons:

  1. The parish only sent an “isn’t it awful letter” and no data,
  2. The parish made a mistake in their appeal, arguing the wrong issue (parish instead of church building or visa versa),
  3. The issue appealed was ordered to be corrected by the Congregation for the Clergy to the Bishop – the issue was corrected – and the merger, closing continued as originally decided by the bishop,
  4. The argument proposed by the parish did not meet the criteria in canon law.

My experience is that if it can be proven that a bishop’s decision for reconfiguration will impact civil laws, if he will be disobeying civil laws, there is much more of a chance that the parish might get an affirmative decision. When a bishop cannot fix a civil law issue, there is probably going to be a change in his original decision for reconfiguration.

The primary purpose of any appeal to Rome is to tell the truth of the matter. An appeal makes sure that the data and facts of the issues in question will be clearly revealed to the vatican personnel. The bishop’s written procedure book, letters, process, etc. all look good but do not tell all of the story. An appeal is the way for the parish to reveal the real data and facts that should have been used in making a decision for reconfiguration. An appeal by the parish is the only way the truth is told to the hierarchical superior of the bishop. An appeal is the only way to get the facts on paper and in files in the offices of people who have any chance to protect the people of the diocese.

The canon lawyer who shared this with FutureChurch wishes to remain anonymous.