Boston Bean Counting

The bad news continues to leak out of the Boston archdiocese. The archdiocese was again in the headlines today with a report that Boston may have to confront more shutdowns of parish and/or church facilities after a "radical reshuffling" that would unite Boston's 291 parishes into 80 to 120 parish clusters. Each cluster, according to the plan, would share resources and clergy. This news comes on the heels of the settlement of an embarrassing lawsuit that pitted the archdiocese against the Sisters of St. Paul in a fight over the administration of the pension fund for the sisters' lay employees—a fight that may or may not (depends whom you ask) have led to the dismissal of the Boston superior for the order.

The Associated Press got its hands on a confidential memo which outlines the cluster proposal. The plan attempts to move away from top-down decisionmaking on the future of church facilities; decisions about further building closings would initiate within individual parish clusters, although the final decisions would still be made by Archbishop Sean O'Malley's office. In 2004 the archdiocese endured a brutal round of church closings, reducing the number of parishes from 357 to 291, and the plan appears to attempt to reduce the bitterness of such decisions by allowing a ground-up input into the future church reductions.


The leaked plan does not initially include any parish closings. The documents were given to the AP by Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes, who passed a memo detailing the plan on to the AP, after receiving it "unsolicited." According to AP: "Borre predicted any structural change would be followed by numerous church closings. He added that the reshuffling alone would meet heavy resistance no matter what, because people simply don't trust the archdiocese anymore."

AP reports: "Under the new system, a senior pastor would lead each group of parishes, with charge over a 'pastoral service team' that would include priests from the other parishes within the collection. The new group would have a single, merged staff; a single rectory; and a single parish center."

After millions in sex abuse settlements and a continuing decline in Mass attendance—only 17 percent of local Catholics now attend Mass—the Boston archdiocese apparently is ready for extreme structural change. The archdiocese reports that 40 percent of Boston parishes won't be able to pay their bills this year, and that over the next ten years the number of available priests will plummet from 316 today to 178.


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ed gleason
7 years 9 months ago
Boston has been on the low side of abuse payouts, having been  the first. How many dioceses are secretly broke? and there is little hope finding out.  The  silent pew Catholics, in denial, are in for surprises both financial and staffing. Still only shuffling around is 'on the table', no transparency and no 'plan' to ordain married men. Probati vir are what is needed and recent abuse 'cases' shows that...  17000 married deacons most of whom are suitable probati vir will not be 'called to full service' . Non-doctrinal Ideology trumps service, sacrament, evangelization, the call to go out to all peoples, financial solvency, preferential option for the poor.All these are meaningless to ideologues..  
B XVI goes to Croatia and talks family.  USCCB is obsessed about some but not all civil marriages in the basement of city hall. Catholic sacramental marriages plunge 50%.. Bishop money and attention goes to 'fight' SSM. No US hierarchal leaders are on the horizon.. hell... they can't even be found on  the continent.    
Craig McKee
7 years 9 months ago
The NEW bottom line of the once and future church:
''...people simply don't trust the archdiocese anymore.''
And all across America, there is a mounting shift from mere shoulder shrugging and abandonment to active animosity toward the institution.
michael iwanowicz
7 years 9 months ago
The faithful remnant in the Archdiocese of Boston continues to bring the light of Christ to the world. I received a call this evening from a member of the family of the deceased whose funeral service prayers I would lead tomorrow. She called to thank me for leading the service.
We baptize the newly born, we officiate at marriages for those to whom we had previously conferred the sacrament of baptism, we sit quietly with the infirm in their struggle for life, we open our doors to all who seek the presence of God in the community of believers, and we seek the fullness of life in God.
7 years 9 months ago
I'm sure a lot of people abandoned Jesus after he let the prostitute go free instead of allowing her to be stoned under the existing law, so I don't see it surprising that people are abandoning the Church because the bishops didn't allow the stoning of the priest abusers.

And I'm sure there were others who thought Jesus didn't go far enough with absolving the prostitute; that he should have skipped the "sin no more" part; after all, the girl was only using sex to earn a living, and there were plenty of willing customers. 

And then there were those who had faith in Jesus, stuck with him and tried to reconcile the differences between what Jesus did and what they personally thought he should have done.

So the prostitutes are now in the Church.  And there are those who say that they should have been stoned to death as the law provides; and there are those who say that if they were just allowed to have sex in the first place, then we wouldn't have these problems of sex abuse.  And there are others who have faith in the Church.
ed gleason
7 years 9 months ago
Deacon Mike: a new round of closings is 'on the table' in Boston. Forget how badly the last round went. Are there deacons who would staff parishes as a team if fully ordained? Do married deacons feel like chopped liver when hierarchs fall down rushing to ordain married protestant ministers? How many married deacons in Boston ? what percentage would  accept full ordination? God bless your hanging in there.
michael iwanowicz
7 years 9 months ago

Ed Gleason: You ask some critical questions about the role of deacons in the future in Boston. Curiously, the planning group in Boston has surveyed the deacons in Boston to ascertain some sense of how deacons could play a role in the new models for parishes.
The survey results are not yet published. However, there are about 245 married deacons who serve in a variety of capacities today. Many of them have theological degrees and MBA’s and could contribute substantially to the future restructure. I am ultimately hopeful for  a resurgence of catholicity in our Archdiocese.




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