US couple suspended by Catholic pastor over offering with protest note

HAZLETON, Pennsylvania: A couple who withheld a donation to their church and instead left a note protesting the closure of a Roman Catholic high school were suspended by the pastor.

“You raise your hand to strike at the parish that has nourished your faith through the years. That says volumes,” The Rev. Thomas Cappelloni of Our Lady of Grace church in Hazleton wrote in a letter to the couple. He said the parishioners should have talked to him if they were concerned about the closure of Bishop Hafey High School.

Cappelloni said he was temporarily suspending the couple’s registration at the parish “as long as you willfully seek to harm Our Lady of Grace by your nonsupport” and the termination would be permanent if the decision were not reconsidered. He added in a postscript that theirs was the only envelope out of 960 mailed out in which such a stand was taken.

The woman who sent the note told the Standard-Speaker of Hazleton that she was disappointed by the pastor’s response.

“I was a parishioner for 50 years,” she said. “It’s nothing against the priest or bishop. I just thought they should (give) children in this area more consideration in closing that school down.”

The woman said she had registered with a different parish last weekend and had no plans to return, according the newspaper, which did not identify her.

The church referred calls to the Diocese of Scranton.

“This is a matter between a pastor and a parishioner,” diocese spokesman Bill Genello said. “The pastor intends to discuss this with the parishioner.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Sunday February 4, 2007.
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