St. Emeric's lay leader commends Pope Benedict XVI on reopened churches

CLEVELAND - Pope Benedict XVI will be held high regard by members of Cleveland churches ordered reopened by the Vatican under his watch, a lay leader of a spared congregation said Monday.

"The miracle of our reopening happened under his reign and we are very sorry to lose him and we will miss him," said Miklos Peller of the Hungarian-language St. Emeric Church in Cleveland.

While the reopening decision came from a Vatican agency and not directly from Benedict, "I'm sure the pope may have inspired the cardinals in the congregation to come up with the right answer," Peller said.

St. Emeric was one of 11 closed churches ordered reopened by the Vatican, which also overturned the merger of a 12th congregation. The pope's portrait hangs in a vestibule of St. Emeric.

The spared churches were among 50 closed or merged because of declining congregations, finances and priests. Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon announced last April that he would not challenge Vatican decrees declaring he failed to follow proper procedures in closing the parishes.

In Cincinnati, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr, who was appointed by Benedict, said the resignation reflected an unselfish attitude by the pope.

"In announcing his resignation, Pope Benedict XVI has acted humbly and unselfishly for the good of the church. That same spirit has characterized his entire life of service," Schnurr said in a statement.

"In my several encounters with him I found this brilliant theologian to be unfailingly kind, hospitable and welcoming."

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