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Fr. Marrone made that one easy

March 6, 2013

I have not followed the Cleveland parish closings sufficiently to comment on them per se, but, whether they really served as the cause of, or just the occasion for, Fr. Robert Maronne going into schism is irrelevant to his canonical status, which, as of Monday, is dire.

Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon just excommunicated Marrone for schism (c. 1364); incredibly, Marrone made it easy—ignoring repeated invitations, summons, appointment of an advocate, participation in the process, and so on. I see no evidence, of course, that Lennon approached the case as if it were “easy” but the result certainly was, canonically speaking, obvious. Contumacious folks don’t prevail in legal proceedings.

I might tweak two points in Lennon’s decree: First, excommunication is not intended—I would have added, solely—as a punishment, for, while its primary purpose is to spur repentance, as Lennon explains, it does punish as well, and it does so by the authority that Christ left his Church (c. 1311); second, as this is now an “imposed or declared” excommunication, a number of actions possibly being attempted by Marrone become invalid (not just illicit, as some could read the phrasing used here). The faithful should therefore avoid all of Marrone’s ministrations unless and until his canonical status is rectified. Moreover, if Marrone is still drawing a paycheck, etc., he’s doing so by Lennon’s graciousness, not by any rights under canon law (c. 1331 § 2, 5º).

Lennon exhorts the faithful of Cleveland to pray for Marrone’s reconciliation; I doubt the bishop meant to limit that invitation to the faithful of Cleveland. Schism hurts us all.

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