Archbishop Shaken in Boston

There's no easy answer to the economic, social, and spiritual problems facing the Archdiocese of Boston these days--as this story about a visit by Archbishop Sean O'Malley to St. Peter Lithuanian Church illustrates. The picture accompanying the story tells it all--Archbishop O'Malley with a wearied look on his face, after leaving St. Peters abruptly after "a heated exchange of words with a female parishioner.

St. Peters is one of 357 parishes being closed in Boston, where the sex abuse scandal, declining mass attendance, and shrinking donations (the diocese lost $14 million last year).

They, like several other parishes, are not giving up without a fight. St. Peters was built and financed by Lithuanian immigrants--whose children and grandchildren feel they have been betrayed by the diocese, as this earlier piece reports:

It's as if our whole culture, our ethnic identity, is like a piece of dust, an inconvenience that can be just flicked away," said Gloria Adomkaitis, 59, a third-generation Lithuanian who grew up on G Street in South Boston. "Maybe we don't have as many people as the Vietnamese or Hispanics, but we deserve consideration, too. We don't deserve to be obliterated because the archdiocese decides on a whim that we don't need to exist anymore. That's hurtful, whether you're Lithuanian or another ethnic group."

On a related note: the average weekly mass attendance of the parishes being closed in Boston is 559--which, if they were Protestant churches, would make them thriving congregations. Why they are not thriving, and how the sociology of a Catholic parish differs from a Protestant church, would make a fascinating study.


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