Bishop Monforton announced this morning, Nov 7, 2022, that he is suspending a discussion and vote at next week’s meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) as previously planned. His announcement says he would like to take time for proper dialogue and consultations to take place.
We are very grateful for this announcement, and we thank God for this reprieve.
After consultation with Philip Gray, our Advocate in Canon Law, we will not suspend our efforts. So many people quickly organizing in this process for our voices to be heard had an undoubted influence on the decision.
We will continue our efforts to pursue a proper consultation process that allows all of our voices to be heard. As he pointed out, this is a suspension of a vote that would not be the final decision anyway. We need to position ourselves for the best opportunity to be heard when the consultation process begins.
Let’s keep the momentum going!
Mr. Gray plans to send the Petition to Rome as planned. He will modify the Petition and the cover letter to reflect the current circumstances. He encourages everyone to continue obtaining mandates, preparing their personal statements, and most of all, praying ardently for good success.
As a matter of public record, Bishop Jeffrey Monforton announced that the Vatican has been involved in directing a process to merge the Diocese of Steubenville for over a year.
The Pope and only the Pope can merge or notably alter a diocese (c.f. Canon 373 et al.).
Those whose rights could be harmed by a decision must be heard, if at all possible (Canon 50). This includes the Faithful and Non-Catholics (c.f. Canon 383). The Bishop had the opportunity to hear the People of God and their concerns about this proposal during the synodal process. He did not do this. He also has had opportunity to hear his priests, and he has not given them a voice. The Bishop gave no reasonable opportunity for those entrusted to his care to be heard.
Because we were not given a voice, we have a duty to make our voice heard. In fact, the Church teaches that we have this obligation and enshrines it in law (Canon 212). It is important and urgent that we let the Vatican know our opinion on the matter.
Canon Law also gives us a way to act with a united voice. Please join us.
A Mandate is a document in Canon Law that serves both as a personal petition to oppose the merger and as the appointment of a person to act on your behalf in this matter.
Mary King of Steubenville is the Procurator. The mandate allows her to unite hundreds or thousands of people in a single action by following specific rules of Canon Law.
The Mandate also allows the Procurator to appoint a canon lawyer to help us argue our position effectively.
Philip Gray of Hopedale, a canonist with over 30 years of experience, including processes before the Vatican, has agreed to help.
Anyone that can be affected by the merger can sign a mandate. Non-Catholics may sign a mandate for Non Catholics.
If you have personal reasons why you do not want to lose the Diocese of Steubenville, please write a letter explaining why you are opposed to the merger.
A core group is preparing a Petition that will address specific canonical points about the merger. The reasons given by the Bishop for the merger are not accurate or sufficient for such a serious action. If you compare the data, the Diocese of Steubenville is one of the strongest dioceses in the United States. For example, it has one of the highest Mass attendance rates in the country!
The Procurator will use the rules of Canon Law to send the Mandates, the Petition, and the personal notes to the competent offices of the Holy See, and with copies going to the ecclesiastical authorities in the United States who will influence the decision. Responses and updates will be sent to Rome as information comes to light. Copies of the Petition and any responses will be communicated via the email information list.