A Dying Church?

Are we seeing the death throes of the archdiocese of Boston? That's the thought that's been running around my head the last few days, reading about church closings in Boston. Here in Chicago, Cardinal George approved a plan to close 5 struggling churches .

In Boston, a some of the 87 parishes being closed are healthy.

But it's the rationale for closings, shown in this Globe piece that is scary.

In a taped interview on Boston Catholic Television, O'Malley said closing parishes need to make "greater sacrifices" for the good of the archdiocese.

Here are some of the reasons given for closings:

  • the age of church buildings
  • a geographic shift of the Catholic population
  • an aging clergy
  • "almost half" of parishes are in the red

    What's not mentioned is the decline in mass attendence or the devastating affects of lawsuits related to sexual abuse.

    Then there's this quote:

    O'Malley said he was pleased that many parishes have closed quietly, saying that ''in so many parishes, with the excellent leadership of their priests, people have come to understand the painful reality we're going through and embrace it with hope . . . that out of this will come a stronger church."

    Does it really make sense to kill off healthy parishes, where the parishioners are so dedicated they will run round the clock vigils and sue the archdiocese to keep the churches from closing? I don't know, but I've heard better ideas.

    But the bigger question is this--will closing nearly 1/4 of Boston Catholic churches make the archdioces stronger, or is it just a sign of inevitable collapse?


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