Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican Halts Milwaukee Cathedral Renovation

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Vatican Halts Milwaukee Cathedral Renovation

Article excerpt


The Vatican has asked Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland to halt the renovation of the archdiocese's cathedral following complaints by opponents of the renovation that the changes would violate church liturgical norms.

The Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments became involved after a canon lawyer for some of the opponents to the project wrote to the Vatican asking for intervention.

The planned changes to the cathedral's interior include moving the altar forward, having seating on three sides of it and constructing a separate chapel for the Blessed Sacrament.

The $4.5 million work on the church, already begun, is part of a $10 million project to renovate church property occupying a city block and to expand facilities for social services.

Charles Wilson, founder of The St. Joseph Foundation, a Watchdog group that advises Catholics about their legal rights under church law, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that his group has seen a steady increase in the number of instances that the Vatican has intervened in church renovation disputes. Most, unlike the public dispute in Milwaukee, don't become widely known. Through 1991, he said his group was involved in about six cases per year. In 1998, they worked on 18 cases, and last year on 19 cases.

James Reiter, a Milwaukee opponent of the renovation, hired Alan Kershaw, a Rome-based canon lawyer, to represent him in the matter.

Kershaw said that, while an archbishop is the chief liturgist in his diocese, "he has authority if he abides by liturgical legislation; if he violates it, then he has absolutely no authority. …

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