Holy Cross priest defies order to leave, continues pastoral duties
The Rockford Catholic Diocese issued a new statement countering a legal argument posted by a Holy Cross priest explaining why he is not leaving -- but the priest has remained resolute and is staying put.
Parishioners have been supporting Rev. James Parker, who was ordered to leave the Batavia Township church by June 16.
Tuesday, Parker issued a statement citing canon law, asserting his appointment was for an indefinite duration, so he will stay until Bishop David Malloy follows canon law in ordering him to leave.
In response, the diocese also cited canon law to support its position that Parker's term was for six years -- he served one additional year -- and now that his term has ended, Rev. Jared Twenty was appointed as parochial administrator of Holy Cross.
Parker stated he did not recognize Twenty's appointment as legitimate and he would remain as pastor and not give up any of his duties.
True to his word, when Rev. Twenty came to Holy Cross intending to celebrate the 6:30 a.m. Wednesday Mass, Parker was already at the altar, celebrated the Mass himself, and Twenty left, sources said.
In a post on the Holy Cross Facebook page, Twenty acknowledged mixed emotions among parishioners "as your beloved pastor has concluded his term."
"I also realize that this time of transition has been a period of great anger for some as well as a time of confusion, and I do not wish to add any more heat to this already very tense situation at Holy Cross," according to Twenty's post.
"However, out of obedience to my Bishop, an obedience which I give with respect and gratitude as to Christ, I must carry out the responsibility he has entrusted to me, which is as the Parochial Administrator of Holy Cross parish," Twenty wrote, explaining what occurred Wednesday when he attempted to celebrate the 6:30 a.m. Mass.
"I was also impeded by Fr. Parker from being able to offer an assurance to the parishioners and his large group of supporters (including people from outside the parish boundaries)," Twenty's post stated.
In Christian charity, Twenty wrote, he decided not impede Parker from celebrating Mass in his place.
"Instead, I decided to leave the gathered assembly and spend my time in prayer, asking the Lord for healing, unity, and peace among all my new flock and the others who had joined us who opposed my presence," Twenty wrote.
"I mean no disrespect to Fr. Parker, or any of his supporters," Twenty wrote. "However, it is my responsibility to act as the Parochial Administrator of Holy Cross. I will not disobey my Bishop, who has legitimately appointed me to this office, even if in Fr. Parker's opinion he has not."
Groups of volunteers are continuing to protect Parker from being forcibly removed.
Supporters on GiveSendGo.com have raised more than $92,000 toward its $100,000 goal to pay for Parker's defense fund.
In separate statements, Parker asserted that he tried to meet with the bishop with his canon lawyer, but Malloy would not meet with him; Malloy has asserted that Parker would not meet with him about concerns the diocese had with Parker's ministry at Holy Cross.