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Bishop Checchio issues decree on the relegation of the Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Carteret

April 14, 2018

The following is a decree on the relegation of the Church of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, Carteret, also available as a PDF:

April 14, 2018                                                                                                                                        

JAMES FRANCIS

By the grace of God and the favor of the Apostolic See

BISHOP OF METUCHEN

DECREE ON THE RELEGATION OF THE CHURCH OF
SAINT ELIZABETH OF HUNGARY, CARTERET

Whereas, alongside his functions of teaching and sanctifying, a bishop is also called to govern and, in his governance, he is to “monitor carefully the administration of all the goods which belong to public juridical persons subject to him” (Congregation for Bishops, Apostolorum Successores, 22 February 2004, n. 188; canon 1276, §1);

Whereas, “in the administration of goods, always presupposing that justice is observed, the Bishop concerns himself first of all with providing for divine worship, charity, the apostolate and the support of the clergy: these ends are given precedence over all others” (Congregation for Bishops, Apostolorum Successores, 22 February 2004, n. 188); 

Whereas, when grave causes suggest that a church no longer be used for divine worship, the diocesan bishop, after having heard the Presbyteral Council, can relegate it to profane but not sordid use, with the consent of those who legitimately claim rights for themselves in the church and provided that the good of souls suffers no detriment thereby (canon 1222, §2); 

Whereas, “to assess the gravity of a cause, each case must be considered individually, weighing the whole context of the situation.  At times, the gravity of a cause will arise only from a combination of just causes, each insufficient in itself, but which together manifest the seriousness of the situation” (Congregation for the Clergy, Procedural Guidelines for the Modification of Parishes and the Closure, Relegation and Alienation of Churches, 30 April 2013, Prot. No. 20131348);

Whereas Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish was established as a personal parish for Hungarian Catholics in 1914, with Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church serving as the parish church.  In May 2010, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish was merged with Holy Family Parish and Sacred Heart Parish to form Divine Mercy Parish, at which time Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church became a subsidiary church serving as a worship site of Divine Mercy Parish, Carteret;

Whereas, because of declining numbers for Sunday worship, Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church ceased being site for Sunday worship in January 2015, remaining available for personal requests for baptisms, weddings and funerals only, of which no personal requests were made since 2015; 

Whereas the water damage to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church and the growth of mold being so extensive, an estimate obtained from an engineering firm as early as January 2014 was $370,000, a cost which could not be assumed by Divine Mercy Parish nor the Diocese of Metuchen; 

Whereas Divine Mercy Parish is not in the financial position to rehabilitate Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, as Divine Mercy Parish relies on rental income and savings to pay its bills since its ordinary income is insufficient;

Whereas the Diocese of Metuchen would not be in the financial position to repair and maintain all of its churches in poor condition without endangering vital diocesan programs and initiatives;

Whereas the good of souls will not be harmed since Holy Family Church, the worship site of Divine Mercy Parish, is within walking distance to Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, and the former members of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish have made Divine Mercy Parish their home since January 2015; 

Whereas the Reverend Edmund J. Shallow, Pastor of Divine Mercy Parish, received widespread support for the closing of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, having conducted consultations on January 5, 2016 with both the Finance Council and the Pastoral Council of the parish, both bodies having former parishioners of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish on them;

Whereas, following Father Shallow’s consultations with the Finance Council and the Pastoral Council on January 5, 2016, he formally petitioned then-Bishop, Paul G. Bootkoski, to relegate Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church to profane, but not sordid, use;

Whereas I heard the Presbyteral Council of the Diocese of Metuchen on February 28, 2018, which considered the reasons for and against the relegation of the church, and the Presbyteral Council gave a unanimous favorable response for the relegation of Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Carteret;

Whereas I now judge that the grave reason required by canon 1222, §2 has been lawfully established insofar as multiple reasons, insufficient in themselves, have together given rise to that required grave cause;

Therefore, I, the undersigned Bishop of Metuchen, have decided as follows:

  1. 1. Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Church, Carteret, is hereby reduced to profane but not sordid use according to the prescript of canon 1222, §2 for the grave cause outlined above. 
  1. 2. Negotiations that may lead to the sale of the property can start, notwithstanding the need to follow the proper procedures when it comes to effectively alienating the property.
  1. 3. Under no circumstances can the edifice be alienated for use inconsistent with its inherent dignity as a former church.  Contractual agreements are to be put in place to safeguard this point in civil law as well as in canon law. (Congregation for the Clergy, Procedural Guidelines for the Modification of Parishes and the Closure, Relegation and Alienation of Churches, 30 April 2013, Prot. No. 20131348)
  1. 4. Prior to alienation, all sacred objects, relics, sacred furnishings, stained-glass windows, bells, confessionals, altars, etc. are to be removed for use in other sacred edifices or to be stored in ecclesiastical custody; if the altar cannot be removed, it must be destroyed. (Congregation for the Clergy, Procedural Guidelines for the Modification of Parishes and the Closure, Relegation and Alienation of Churches, 30 April 2013, Prot. No. 20131348; canons 1212, 1238-1239)

This decree is effective immediately.  I order this decree to be made public to all of faithful through its immediate publication on the website of the Diocese of Metuchen, in The Catholic Spirit, in the parish bulletin of Divine Mercy Parish and through other ordinary means of communicating with the people of the Diocese of Metuchen.

All those who claim to have been aggrieved by this decree are herewith notified that, if they desire to file recourse against this decree, they are required, for validity, to submit a petition according to the norm of canon 1734, §1-2 within ten useful days from the legitimate notification of this decree.

Given at the Chancery, Metuchen, New Jersey, this 14th day of April, 2018. 

__________________________________________
Most Reverend James F. Checchio, JCD, MBA
Bishop of Metuchen

_______________________________
Lori Albanese, JCL
Chancellor

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