Thursday, November 27, 2008

Cleric who fought land deal axed


A Brooklyn pastor was forced to resign Wednesday because he opposed a massive development deal backed by a powerful Democratic assemblyman, opponents of the project claim.

Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio "pressured" the Rev. James O'Shea to step down from Our Lady of Monserrate in Bedford-Stuyvesant, his backers claimed.

O'Shea headed a group called Churches United fighting to be included in plans to develop a 30-acre site in the Broadway Triangle section of Brooklyn, said group secretary Robert Solano.

"The bishop has thrown out Churches United's bylaws, completely overlooked the fact that we are an independent, nonprofit organization and has forced his will upon us," Solano said. "And for what? Politics, ugly politics."

Comprised of about 20 Brooklyn churches, Churches United was created in 2004 to protest what it says was an unfair bidding process during the development stages of the property, which Rep. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) plans to turn into affordable housing.

The group wants affordable housing, too, but says local churches were not allowed to participate in the bidding process.

"It seems clear that Bishop DiMarzio is under political pressure to stop the Broadway Triangle opposition," said Churches United member Juan Ramos. "It is reprehensible that he would go after Rev. O'Shea - an inspiration to so many in his community - so harshly."

O'Shea could not be reached for comment.

Solano said three members of Churches United - all Brooklyn pastors - secretly met Wednesday to dissolve the organization and said the remaining members planned to take legal action.

A call to DiMarzio was not returned last night.

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