Bishop Richard Lennon has sent a conciliatory letter to the priests in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, acknowledging that his relationship with many of them has deteriorated.
In a letter obtained by The Plain Dealer, Lennon wrote to the diocese’s priests on May 21, saying “I have become aware of a growing disconnect between many of the priests who serve faithfully in this diocese and myself.”
“It saddens me to hear reports,” the bishop continued, “that a number of our priests feel anxious and uncomfortable in my presence and that rather than being co-workers with me, a number of priests feel left out of consultation.”
The bishop’s letter did not offer a reason for the rift he described. But it said he was writing “to assure you of my desire to remedy this situation.”
The bishop has asked all priests to attend at least one of nine meetings he has scheduled at various parishes throughout the eight-county diocese to discuss the matter. The first meeting was scheduled for today at St. Mary in Wooster. They are to continue through July 2.
“. . . (M)y own heart calls me to listen carefully, reflect, correct and change what needs to be changed as we move forward,” the bishop wrote. “I would ask and urge you to be present at one of these meetings.”
Lennon offered to meet individually with priests who cannot attend or who are uncomfortable about attending one of the group meetings.
Calls to some local priests on Wednesday were not returned. Sources who asked not to be identified said priests have been writing to Rome, complaining about Lennon. It was unclear how many have written and what their complaints are.
Diocese spokesman Robert Tayek said in an email Wednesday, “We do not wish to go much beyond the statements in the bishop’s letter.”