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Breakaway group ends talks with Ohio bishop

– A breakaway congregation has ended its discussions with the Cleveland bishop about its withdrawal from the city’s Catholic diocese.

A spokesman for the Community of St. Peter, Frank Titas, said the congregation’s trustees advised Bishop Richard Lennon of the decision in a letter this week.

Titas told the Plain Dealer the letter respectfully advised Lennon the community was not interested in continuing talks. The congregation worships separately from the bishop and the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland.

A spokesman for the diocese, Robert Tayek, said Wednesday he was unaware of the group’s letter. Lennon is out of town, he said.

The Community of St. Peter was created when St. Peter Church in Cleveland closed in April 2010, after the eight-county Cleveland diocese closed or merged more than 50 parishes citing declining numbers of priests, parishioners and finances. The church has since reopened.

After the church’s closure, the Rev. Robert Marrone, the community’s pastor, had called for talks between Lennon and his group’s trustees. The only time they met was in May, two months after Lennon declared Marrone excommunicated for defying church authority.

Titas declined to give the newspaper a copy of the letter sent to Lennon. He said the group decided to end talks soon after its members were informed of the trustees’ meeting with Lennon.

“It became clear (congregation members) were happy and comfortable and didn’t really feel there was a need for a change,” Titas said. “We’ll continue full-speed ahead.”

A longtime member of the church approved of the community’s decision.

“I’m at peace with the decision,” Dorothy Sadowski told the newspaper. “I didn’t see any reason to continue. (The bishop’s) track record has not been sterling. I don’t find him to be a trustworthy leader of the diocese.”