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Our diocese is doing a rather major restructuring and the church in my small town is being joined to a larger parish. We've heard that the diocese cannot sell off churches unless "the congregation" wants them to.

So, if we're being swallowed up into a parish with five other churches, what's to stop those five churches from making a practical business decision to sell off our Church? Or, to be more direct, who represents the congregation once the parish is reorganized?

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What are the rules around closing Catholic churches that are part of restructured parishes?

The bishop with the diocesan presbyteral council may make the decision in this matter. At least Canon Law accords them the power to do so. It sucks, but that is what it is.

Can. 1222 §1. If a church cannot be used in any way for divine worship and there is no possibility of repairing it, the diocesan bishop can relegate it to profane but not sordid use.

§2. Where other 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.

Financial impossibility of maintaining a parish church constitutes a ”grave reason” for selling a local parish church! See the following article: Canon Law and Selling a Church

In restructuring the diocese, the parish in question no longer exists!

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  • OK - I don't think "diocesan presbyteral council" was in canon law, aren't they talking about the particular church's council, not some blunt instrument from the diocese. We were told that church law said that the diocese could not unilaterally relegate any of the churches for profane use. What I want to know is, when the parishes are restructured, are all church councils immediately made null and void? Do they get reappointed? do they need to be representative of the demographics that make up the parish?
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 3:21
  • @PeterTurner My edition of CCL says "the council of priests" at that point, and the link explains the council and how it works. The question of whether the "new" parish's pastoral council should be reformed is a different question. Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 8:25
  • @PeterTurner "presbyter" is a fancy word for "priest". The ordination sacrament has three levels that are deacon, presbyter and bishop. Presbyter is the level required to celebrate mass and that is what most "priests" are. This means that the presbyteral council is not a parish congragation but a council of priests in that diocese.
    – Rad80
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 9:31
  • @PeterTurner We must remember that a parish council is just that. It is not a voting body in force of law. It offers "council" to their pastor. Unfortunately, some pastors go with a vote of the parish council. This is not the way parish councils should operate.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Nov 8, 2022 at 11:51
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    Your answer matched what the diocese said, they didn't see the contradiction either - but I did remind them that they left out the part about the presbyterial council
    – Peter Turner
    Commented Nov 9, 2022 at 21:51

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