A lawyer who fought church cutbacks in the Cleveland area says the Vatican has taken the extraordinary step of
overruling the closing of 13 parishes.
The move represents a rare instance in which Rome has reversed a U.S. bishop on church shutdowns.
Attorney Peter Borre says the Congregation of the Clergy ruled last week that Cleveland's Bishop Richard Lennon failed to follow procedure in the closings three years ago.
The churches were among 50 shut down or merged by Lennon. The bishop said the eight-county diocese could not afford to keep them open because of a declining number of parishioners and a shortage of priests.
A spokesman says the diocese hadn't been informed of the decision, and he declined to comment. The bishop can appeal to the Vatican's high court.