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June 26, 2012

Church retires priest for changing liturgy

MOUNT CARMEL, Ill. (UPI) -- A Catholic bishop says the church forced retirement on the Rev. Bill Rowe of St. Mary Parish in Mount Carmel, Ill., after he improvised changes in liturgy.

Rowe, 73, received a letter Sunday from Belleville, Ill., Bishop Edward Braxton saying the church has forced him to retire, the Belleville (Ill.) News-Democrat reported. Rowe served at St. Mary Parish for 18 years.

Rowe's habit of improvising liturgy was made public in February.

Rowe plans to appeal his retirement to the Congregation of the Clergy at the Vatican on the argument that changing liturgy to make religion easier to understand is not a crime worthy of dismissal, the newspaper said. Rowe said he has been changing liturgy for 25 years, but he has never altered essential phrases.

In his letter to Rowe, Braxton wrote, "I am deeply aware that you, your parishioners, and your friends are saddened by this change in your assignment. I am saddened as well. In your years at St. Mary Parish, you have surely touched many hearts."

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