Ohio lay leader commends pope on reopened churches

CLEVELAND (AP) — A lay leader in Cleveland says Pope Benedict XVI will be held in high regard by members of churches ordered reopened by the Vatican under his watch.

Miklos (MEEK'-lohs) Peller of St. Emeric Church in Cleveland says the pope didn't take a direct role in reopening the churches, but Peller believes Benedict influenced the decision.

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.

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