Bishop McDonnell Explains. 3.

". . . to qualify as "religious exercise" under RLUIPA, the practice need not be "compelled by, or central to, a  system of religious belief." (Mintz). . . placing these exterior religious symbols, all rooted in sacred scriptures, under government control through the creation of a single-parcel OLOH Historic District - containing only RCB owned buildings and enacted as a political response to the outcry of parishioners upset by the parish closing - essentially freezes in place these religious symbols and makes it impossible for the Bishop to exercise his responsibilities under Church doctrine, scripture and Canon Law to otherwise relocate them to other Catholic or Christian based locations, or to prevent their desecration or other sordid use by obliteration or destruction. To exclude from RLUIPA's protections the Bishop's ecclesiastical goods obligations under church law would require a narrow rather than broad interpretation of "religious exercise" under the statute." (13.2, p. 7)

". . .a "substantial burden," (under RLUIPA) is one which "places more than an inconvenience on religious exercise" and is "akin to significant pressure which directly coerces the religious adherent to conform his or her behavior accordingly."  (Mintz quoting Midrash) (paper 13.2, p. 8)

"The Roman Catholic Bishop of Springfield (RCB) is a corporation sole created by Chapter 368 of The Acts of the Massachusetts General Court of 1898 . . . The RCB is the legal entity through which the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield exercises its religious mission within the four Western Massachusetts Counties." (16, p. 1)

"Pastoral Planning Committee activities were an integral part of the religious mission of the Diocese. Its membership underwent a four-day retreat for formation purposes before beginning their work. The study and deliberations were always undertaken following prayer and meditation seeking God's guidance in their actions." (16, p. 4)

"By the decree of closure, the assets of the parish of OLOH were transferred to St. Mary Mother of Hope Parish. The effect of that decree was to place the Church out of service with respect to religious worship and to place on the Bishop...the religious obligation to protect all religious details and religious ornamentation on the buildings so that the original intent and purpose of these religious symbols can be maintained." (16, p. 5)

"These architectural details are overtly religious in nature and 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." (16, p. 6)

"...the exterior stain glass windows...sculptures, inscriptions from sacred scripture, reliefs and friezes...are sacred symbols of the Roman Catholic Church, and thus, the Bishop is religiously bound by Church doctrine, scripture and Canon Law to determine the appropriate use of all such exterior religious symbols." (16, p. 7)

"The Code of Canon Law, c. 1254.1. provides: "The Catholic Church has the inherent right, independently of any secular power, to acquire, retain, administer and alienate temporal goods in pursuit of its proper objectives. Canon 1254.2. provides: "The proper objectives are principally the regulation of divine worship, the provision of fitting support of the clergy and other ministers, and carrying out of work of the sacred apostolate and of charity, especially for the needy." (16, p. 9)

"... the [historic district] designation was an unlawful intrusion into [the] Pastoral Planning process as evidenced by the fact that the proponents of the Ordinance were parish members who had expressed their unhappiness with the closing of the parish....." (16, p. 12)

"Since 1972 when the first historic district was designated in Springfield, the practice of the City of Springfield has been to exclude church property from such districts." (16, p. 17)