Bishop McDonnell Explains. 2.

"Pastoral planning is an integral religious responsibility of the Diocese guided by its core religious obligation to spread the gospel message of Jesus Christ and provide for the sacramental needs of its members." (paper 13.1., page 8)

"By this ordinance the City purports to exercise near total governmental control over the RCB's religious symbols, an integral part of the exterior of this church, thereby frustrating the Bishop's exercise of his obligations under Church doctrine, scripture and Canon Law to take measures to move, reuse, relocate, remove, destroy or obscure them in order to prevent desecration . . . . The Ordinance substantially impedes the Bishop's ability to carry out his religious duties." (13.1, p. 10)

". . . the RCB's religious symbols on the exterior of OLOH Church also enjoy protection as free speech.. . . OLOH Church itself was purposely constructed and maintained in the shape of the Christian Cross seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity. . . . The exterior religious architectural details of OLOH Church are expressions and reflections by the RCB of the Roman Catholic faith and are explicitly and deliberately designed to communicate and identify the structure to all as a Roman Catholic church, to praise God and to exhort those who see it, whether Roman Catholic or not, to reflect upon Jesus Christ and the Word and glory of God. . . . " (13.1, p. 14-15)

". . . Placing these exterior religious symbols, all rooted in sacred scriptures, under government control through the creation of the OLOH Historic District essentially freezes in place these religious symbols...so that the Bishop is substantially impeded in the exercise of his responsibilities under Church doctrine, scripture and Canon Law either to remove or relocate them (as part of a sale to a third party), or to otherwise prevent their desecration or other sordid use...
...the religious symbols appearing on the exterior of the OLOH Church constitute "ecclesiastical goods" ...and are subject to the oversight of Rome and the Bishops. These religious symbols are part of the patrimony of the Diocese of Springfield. The Roman Pontiff is the supreme administrator of all ecclesiastical goods...
...In Smith, the Supreme Court emphasized that, when applying the "substantial burdens" text, courts must avoid "judging the centrality of different religious practices [because it] is akin to the unacceptable business of evaluating the relative merits of differing religious claims."...
..."It is not within the judicial ken to question the centrality of particular beliefs of practices to a faith, or the validly of particular litigant's interpretations of those creeds." (Hernandez v Comm'r).
[The] Supreme Court precedent identifies the existence of such a burden when government puts substantial pressure on an adherent to modify his behavior and to violate his beliefs (Thomas v. Review Bd. of Indiana)...
...The City cannot seriously contend that its creation of the OLOH Historic District capturing control of [these sacred symbols] does not substantially burden the RCB in its free exercise of religion." (13.1. p. 17-18)

Bishop McDonnell Explains. 1.

Okay, we've been showing the defenses of the City to allegations raised by Bishop McDonnell in Jan. of 2010.

Essentially, the Bishop charges the City with discrimination: he feels that the ordinance placing Our Lady of Hope church into a historic district unfairly targets the Catholic church. The Bishop alleges  an offense against First Amendment rights protecting the freedom of religion.

The City mounted a vigorous defense.  We've been giving the city's point of view in the last post, which was a long summary of Paper 25.

We now turn to the Bishop's position, and use the reasoning in several court papers (as argued by the diocesan law firm) to explain why he is taking this action, why he feels the City's position is in error, and what he hopes to gain from the suit.

In the course of his explanation, the Bishop touches on two previous suits: One is the Mintz case, and the other is the Donoghue Quadrangle case.  Although these are not the main focus, the case law and legal briefs from them pop up now and again and it is interesting to read something about these cases, since they document a history of confrontation between the city and diocese (in the Quadrangle case) and show how RLUIPA works (in the Mintz case). We provide a few links.

The Donoghue Quadrangle case involved the creation of a historic district in Springfield.  It was one of the first, I do believe, in 1972.  During this creation, the City excluded two properties from the ordinance. However, they did not identity the properties by name, but rather by their owners: one was the Diocese of Springfield, and one was a museum association of Springfield.  The method of identifying the buildings by their owners rather than otherwise seems now to have been a serious misstep, because it led to a lot of litigation.
The other interesting thing about this case is the dissenting opinion of Judge Ireland, given at around section 426 or so. He agreed that the ordinance, including exemptions, should be upheld as written, but also felt that the exemptions should not have been allowed in the first place.

link: Donoghue Quadrangle Case

The other case is called Mintz v. Bishop of Springfield.
This one concerns the desire of St. Ann's church in Lenox, Ma. to erect a parish center on property they owned. This was objected to by neighbors on the grounds of increased traffic, inconvenience, etc. What is interesting about this one is that in winning the case, the Bishop used RLUIPA to good effect, largely since the proposed uses for the parish center could be linked to the church's mission. Another interesting thing is that the diocese was not butting heads with the town. On the contrary, the diocese and town were on the same side, and the litigation was brought against them by abutters.

link: Mintz v. Bishop of Springfield.