St Paul Parishioners Sue Catholic Diocese

The Biloxi Catholic Diocese is being sued by members of a Pass Christian church. Tuesday, 150 parishioners of St. Paul Catholic Church filed the suit in Chancery Court. A news release from the members states that the suit seeks "to determine their legal right to save their church."

The Biloxi Diocese decided to merge the church with nearby Our Lady of Lourdes Church on Menge Avenue. A community center would be built on the beachfront property that's currently home to St. Paul. But parishioners believe that property is "sacred and dedicated for use as a church."

The suit also asks for an accounting of "monies donated specifically to the parish and diocese for the rebuilding of St. Paul Church." The plaintiffs say "their priest and the bishop have in the past, and as we speak, continue to solicit funds for the sole purpose of rebuilding St. Paul Catholic Church."

WLOX News contacted the Catholic Diocese for a comment on the lawsuit. A statement from the Diocese said, "The church will be very willing to respond to this lawsuit when it has been reviewed.  Given recent local news, this may be an attempt to force Holy Family Parish to have more than one church building. The bishop has already expressed support for the pastor's decision that it's in the best long term interest of the parish to be united in one church building."

Just two days ago, members of the group "Save St. Paul" told WLOX News that after eight weeks of prayer, the time had come for action.

Watch for more on this story tonight on WLOX News.