Monday, June 22, 2009

Fewer Priests = Closed and Merged Parishes

Catholic New Service is featuring an article by Dennis Sadowski about parish closings and mergers that are taking place around the country and what it means for the parishioners of these parishes. The article is titled "When parishes close, there's more to deal with than just logistics"...

As we are certainly aware here in the Diocese of Richmond, there are rumblings and grumblings going on as to when and how the clustering of our parishes will take place. Obviously, some parishes are already sharing resources with each other, but that is only the beginning.

What happens to smaller parishes who face the uncertainty of and the possibility of being swallowed up by larger neighboring parishes? Will they lose their identity completely? Will their Catholic presence be lost in their communities? Will their outreach programs be taken over or even discontinued? Will the smaller churches be closed altogether? Are the parishioners even prepared for any of this?

Sadowski attempts to address this issue by citing research done by Charles Zech and Robert Miller in their recent book, "Listening to the People of God: Closing, Rebuilding and Revitalizing Parishes."

Zech recognizes how traumatic the closing or merging of a parish can be: "'Our parish is a family and when our parish is closed we feel like we've lost an important part of our family.' We have to treat it that way. Diocesan officials need to treat it as if there's a death in the family."

Read the article and tell us what your thoughts are about the future of our clustering parishes in the Diocese of Richmond.

Sex and the Priestly: Father Cutie Renews Celibacy Debate

Amy Sullivan has written an interesting article about the renewed celibacy debate in the latest issue of the online Time ezine. The article "Sex and the Priestly: Father Cutie Renews Celibacy Debate" can be found HERE.

Obviously, former Catholic priest Alberto Cutie and former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland have brought the celibacy debate to the forefront in recent weeks through Cutie's actions and Archbishop Weakland's memoirs.

In a quote from the article: "Although both he and Cutie have insisted they do not want to be held up as poster boys for changing the Church's celibacy requirement, their stories have added new fuel to a long-simmering debate. The Catholic Church in the U.S. has a serious priest crisis — the number of men entering the priesthood has dropped by 60% over the past four decades and the current average age of active priests is 60. Many dioceses have been forced to close parishes or import foreign priests to deal with shortages. But advocates of celibacy reform say there is a better solution: ditch the 900-year-old church law prohibiting priests from marrying or being sexually active."

Ms Sullivan gives a short history of celibacy in the Catholic Church in her article and notes the possibility of making the "rule" into a voluntary discipline, advocated by some theologians.

What say you?