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Belleville Diocese Ponders Church Closures

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Getty/Sean Gallup

Getty/Sean Gallup

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BELLEVILLE, Ill. (AP) — The Catholic Diocese of Belleville is considering closing up to 20 of its 121 parishes because of the loss of population in some areas and the advanced age of some priests.

Bishop Edward Braxton said in a recent letter on the diocese’s website that parishes will be asked to evaluate their viability. Town hall meetings will also be held to gather input. The diocese covers 28 southern Illinois counties.

The Belleville News-Democrat reports that decisions will be made sometime after February 2013.

The Rev. John Myler is pastor at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Belleville and a spokesman for the diocese. He said plans to close some churches are not related to the recent $6.33 million settlement of a sexual abuse case against a priest.

Copyright Associated Press

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