Reflecting a bit on Robert Putnam's warning that churches should resist the urge to act as political power players lest they risk alienating key demographics, especially millennials, I chuckled a bit to myself when I read two headlines from EWTN's newsfeed yesterday.
Massachusetts Catholics Fight To Reinstate Defense Of Marriage Act
The U.S. Bishops and the Massachusetts Catholic Conference have joined a list of 17 religious groups moving to appeal the state's rejection of the Defense of Marriage Act last year."
Among the 17 groups who've signed the brief are the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Association of Evangelicals, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America.
Short On Priests And Faithful, Boston Archdiocese Considers Parish Mergers
On Feb. 2, the Archdiocese of Boston announced plans for a reorganization that could change how many parishes operate. The changes are aimed at allowing the Church to cope with declining Mass attendance and a shortage of priests, without forcing parishes to close.
"The Archdiocese has been operating under a model decades old that was built for a time when 70% of Catholics attended Mass regularly," archdiocesan spokesman Terry Donilon told CNA. "Today less than 20% attend weekly Mass in the Archdiocese."
These numbers call for what Donilon described as a "total rebuild of the archdiocese," likely to include mergers between several parish communities.
Is there a causal relationship? Most likely not. But the juxtaposition of these two stories, on the same day, is striking and worthy of reflection.