A sad story from Leeds

Maybe its my low spirits today, but this strikes me as so very very sad…

This is from Damian Thompson’s blog Holy Smoke.

Defiant parishioners carry on mowing the lawns of their lost churches

Heartbroken parishioners of the West Yorkshire churches closed by Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, are continuing to mow the lawns and tend the grounds of their padlocked churches as a gesture of defiance. One parish – I won’t say which – is continuing to hold Masses at another venue.

My source tells me: "Elderly people feel the most eloquent protest they can make is to keep mowing the lawns and cleaning up litter in the church grounds, even though they can see the padlocks on the door. In some cases, the stress of the whole affair is having a bad effect on their health."

There is more, but I find that terribly sad. 

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Padre Steve says:

    I would have to agree with you. This is very sad and I pray for these folks that they might hold fast to their faith in these difficult situations.

  2. TJM says:

    I don’t know the situation, so I am hesitant to criticize Bishop Roche. For someone who knows the situation, was this simply an economic
    move? Tom

  3. E. Osodemo says:

    All the parishioners of the West Yorkshire should feel up the Vatican with letters of protest, and also put a letter in Internet where any catholic can signe, it is the only way to surpass the Episcopal Conference and to arrive directly to the Vatican and the Holy Father. Do it !

  4. ED says:

    Another result of Vatican 2 and its ill advised changes,if these elderly people had been vigilant back then this would never have happened.

  5. MaryH says:

    Hi, great to read your blog again Fr. Z. just got back into blogging. Come and visit, if you can: http://www.brokenalabaster.com/

  6. Patrick says:

    Is the problem a loss of parishioners or a loss of priests? In either case, there is little a bishop can do in the immediate situation. The long term solution is to revive the teaching and practice of the perennial Faith. The fact of the matter is that in so many places, the “cradle Catholic” Church has not produced the next generation of Catholics. Were these same “elderly people” fighting this hard when the creeping contraceptive culture, bad catechetical formation, and secularization were assaulting their children? I rather doubt it. While we certainly have suffered from poor shepherds over the years, the laity needs to face the consequences of our own sin and tepidity. Closing churches is one of those consequences.

  7. MaryH says:

    It is sad in a way, but in another way its very encouraging to read of the parishioners faithfulness.

  8. Porrectus says:

    One word of caution here is that the source of this information is Damian Thompson. If you read elsewhere on his blog it looks very much as though he hates the Church, and is keen to make mischief denouncing it. He certainly doesn’t treat his bishops with the respect and charity that any faithful Catholic ought to show.

  9. Porrectus: Hates the Church? I am not sure about that. I am not sure you can conclude that.

    He is rather tough on bishops when they do odd things. But I suspect he praises them when they stand up for the right things as well. Doesn’t he?

    He also doesn’t hide behind anonymity.

  10. Porrectus (Mike Bridges) says:

    Well, I take to heart the words of the late Cardinal Hume, truly a saintly man: “The relationship between the Successor of St Peter and the bishops is such that it is not possible to express loyalty to the Church without including loyalty to one’s own bishop.” I don’t detect that in any of Mr Thompson’s odious outpourings.

  11. Phil Steinacker says:


    I’ve seen other posts like yours in tone and tilt that suggest a leaning towards suppression of the TLM. [Not sure how you come to that conclusion from what he wrote.] So, the good bishop is one of your boys, eh? Getting a little defensive (and a whole lot dishonest in laying out your true position), are you?

    I disagree with your skewed & biased take on Damian Thompson, and I suggest your agenda is to create the phony issue of disrespect for the bishop as a smokescreen to support his shutting down another church offering the TLM. This is outright, blatant defiance of the expressed wishes and decree of the Holy Father, who outranks him – in case your understanding of the chain of authority in the Church is just a tad rusty.

    I’ve seen this tactic used on some liberal Catholic blogs as well as here. [Are there any?] It’s pretty snide, but more importantly, it is underhanded and sneaky to try to suggest that Thompson’s coverage of any bishop’s acts against the the objectives of his pope is inappropriate and disrespectful. You have it backwards, my friend; it is His Holiness who is being disrespected – by a fellow bishop who is under his authority.

    Give it a rest, Porrectus; with the wares you’re selling you’ll not find any buyers here. Do you really believe that kind of nonsense will earn you any respect on this blog?

  12. Porrectus (Mike Bridges) says:

    Good heavens. I wish I hadn’t said anything.

  13. J W says:

    About eight years ago a local parish closed – yet every Christmas, wreaths seem to be hanging on the front.

  14. Andrew says:

    I have never left a comment on a blog before, but I feel inspired to say something about ED’s contribution. I am not sure where he is based, but here in the UK the elderly parishioners to whom he refers are the good people who keep parishes alive and active despite the seemingly never-failing efforts of certain bishops and priests to destroy them.

    To somehow imply that the problems faced by the Church is their fault is disrespectful to those who have practised the Catholic faith for many a long year, possibly longer than ED has been alive, and have consistently done what has been asked of them in obedience to their pastors, painful though it sometimes was. That part of England has suffered greviously over the years, and yet they kept the faith alive. Their love for the Church has been revealed in their practical concern for the church buldings and grounds, many of which were built and maintained by their offerings.

    Perhaps instead of blaming ordinary parishioners for the faults and failings of the leadership, we should thank the Good Lord that they have not, unlike so many others, abandoned the practice of the faith.

  15. Bob K. says:

    We can close down traditional Churches and replace them with Mega New Age Style Cathedrals for the liberals. How sad!. http://veritasvincit.wordpress.com/2008/09/23/new-190-million-oakland-cathedral-fit-for-george-jetson/

  16. Bob K. says:

    How can traditional Catholics gain anything with the liberals controlling the Church?. Where is there a new Gothic Style or Romanesque style Cathedral for Catholics who are attached to the TLM.

  17. Dan says:

    Good Bishop Roche.

  18. Matt Q says:

    Shame on these bishops. SHAME ON THEM!

  19. Matt Q: So you would be willing to step up to the plate and help those parishes pay the bills to stay open?

    Let’s remember that there may be many issues involved here.

  20. Dan says:

    “Matt Q: So you would be willing to step up to the plate and help those parishes pay the bills to stay open?”

    Father, I know you addressed this to Matt, but I would be willing to help financially.
    To whom do I write?

  21. Dan: It was a rhetorical question to make a point.

  22. yorkshire rose says:

    As someone who has witnessed these closures at first hand, and whose relatives have been locked out, can I please let you all know that the parishoners wish no disrepect to the Bishop. They have no agenda other than the wish to go to Mass.
    Please tell everyone you know(especially in Rome) that the main points are these:
    * That thriving , well- attended well- funded churches,with parishoners from 2-92years have been closed down alongside ailing ones.
    *The local communities affected have made countless representations to the Bishop– all of which have gone un acknowledged * Many people can no longer get to the alternative proposed churches( they do not have the transport to get there)
    *One of the churches which people are now forced to attend is not viable. Its structure is crumbling , car parking is poor and there are not enough seats.
    *Those who are affluent car drivers have taken to attending Mass outside the Diocese because they cannot fund the Bishop of Leeds
    * A few recent funerals have been made even more upsetting by the poor provision of the church suggested
    * Bus services in the area start at 10.55 am. Mass starts at 10.45 am at one church 5 miles away and 8am or 11 am at another.
    *The argument of ” no priests” is not valid. Allerton Bywater has a priest;Holy Family Chequerfield had the offer of a Polish priest due to their good relations with a Bishop in Poland;Our Lady of Lourdes was opened for two hours every Sunday. A priest travelled by car ,said Mass to a full church , everyone was happy. Why could that arrnagement not conitnue
    * The result is that devout Catholics are locked out of their churches( these are churches which they built and paid for, even during the Great Depression and the miners’ strike)
    * People have become physically ill with stress and depression.At least 10 per cent of parishoners havent
    been able to attend Mass since the doors were locked( some feel that they are losing their faith)
    *The lovely village community of Ackworth ( Our Lady of Lourdes) where people really do look out for each other has been broken.

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