The Catholic Diocese of Biloxi finds itself embroiled in a major controversy over the future of St. Pauls Church on the beach front in Pass Christian. It's a controversy that could have been avoided. But more on that in a moment.
In recent weeks, the church's pastor, Father Dennis Carver, decided St. Paul would not be rebuilt after Hurricane Katrina destroyed the historic building. It would be rebuilt further north and combined with another parish.
That decision was given the blessing of Bishop Thomas Rodi. But the decision did not sit well with many St. Paul parishioners.
They say St. Paul is the only Catholic, beach front church in Harrison County not being restored. They say they've been kept out of the loop by the Diocese, and their input was not welcome. And they are fighting back by holding meetings and running ads critical of the decision.
This might have been avoided if only the Bishop had talked to the parishioners first. Instead, he issued a written statement through the media. That is not enough.
Bishop Rodi needs to sit down and talk to the St. Pauls faithful, face to face, and explain the reasons for the decision. Only then will parish members understand, and be able to move forward.
Until that happens, the future of the parish and its membership will remain in doubt. And that would be a tragedy.
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