I'm not particularly in favor of smaller churches (although as I get older, it looks better and better). I am in favor of faithful parishes, large or small.
So there is some good news in that stinking "Pew" research coming from some commentators. It appears that the Catholic Church is losing its "cultural Catholics" those who once came to Church, identified as Catholics but did not and do not believe as Catholics especially in some core dogmatic and moral areas of Church teaching. It is more likely today that Catholics who don't really believe (usually liberal Catholics who want the Church to conform to their beliefs or the prevailing trends and fads of the culture as promoted by secularism or the immoral media) will no longer even claim to be Catholic. They will claim to be "nones."
The New York Times Ross Douthat writes the following:
"Since cultural Christianity has weakened, the “social desirability bias” driving people to tell pollsters they’re churchgoers should be weakening apace as well. So it’s unlikely that the Pew numbers on reported attendance are masking a major plunge: Instead, what’s happening is that American Christianity is losing more and more of its penumbra while retaining more of its core (albeit an aging core, in many cases) than trends in identification alone suggest."
Let me use some anecdotal evidence. Bibb County which is the county in which Macon, Georgia is located has lost about 10,000 people over the last 10 years to what many would call "white flight".
The basic problem is our public schools, many of which are way below standards. Many industries have shut down and no new ones on a major level have come to replace them. Whites are departing for counties with good public schools or moving to Atlanta or out of the state all together for better jobs and education.
I would estimate that we have lost about 600 to 800 households, but many of these to the death of our aging parishioners, in fact a huge number. But the fact remains that there are very few new Catholics moving to Macon from elsewhere to offset deaths and those who have moved away.
Of course there are those who have left the parish or the Church. Many despise me and have either gone to other parishes or have actually become honest enough to recognize they are Protestants at heart and have joined or rejoined a Protestant denomination.
The liberal Catholics (always a recipe for leaving the true Church) have become "nones" but with some still considering themselves cultural Catholics.
But in that 10 year period we have seen an increase in the commitment to the Church of those who are faithful and remain Catholic and are a contradiction to the prevailing godless, unCatholic culture.
The manner in which the Liturgy is now celebrated with attention to detail and reverence as well as the addition of the Extraordinary Form of the Mass is helping to form strong, faithful Catholics who don't want to be Protestants or Nones! Those who want to be more Protestant or Nones are following their desires out of the parish and the true Church.
Our offertory while plateauing is still strong and has increased dramatically in the last 10 years coupled with two Capital Campaigns that have raised over $10 million! In fact the plateauing of the offertory also can be attributed to faithful parishioners paying off their pledges.
Fidelity! Fidelity! Fidelity! Repentance! Repentance! Repentance! Confession! Confession! Confession! Worthy Holy Communions! Worthy Holy Communions! Worthy Holy Communions! A smaller but more faithful Church will be a "sign of contradiction" and a real leven in a corrupt Church and world!