Wednesday, September 27, 2017


Pittsburgh Diocese Reorganizes Parishes for Future Evangelization

Church consolidation will secure new growth, says Bishop David Zubik.

Is this the Francis effect??????????????

The soundbites:

The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced in early September that it would eventually reduce the number of parish entities from 188 parishes with 225 church sites to 48 parishes with the majority clustered into approximately two to three church sites...

...Bishop Zubik said the restructuring is aimed at positioning the Church for future growth through evangelization, not “managing the decline.”
“It is all about evangelizing and deepening our relationships with Jesus Christ,” he said. “It is about inviting people to be involved in the growth of the Church.”...

...According to the diocese’s statistics, the Catholic population has declined by 121,000 over the past 16 years, when the diocese counted 753,000 Catholics in 2000. Weekly Mass attendance across the diocese also dropped in 2016 to 138,000 Catholics, a decline of 108,000 since 2000. Internal figures at the diocese estimate that 10,000 fewer Catholics attended Mass in the diocese in the past year alone....

...The diocesan figures show 21% of Catholics attend Mass on a regular basis, down from a third of Catholics attending regularly in 2000. Similarly, the diocese has seen drops between 40%-50% in marriages, baptisms, confirmations, first Communions and K-8 enrollment in Catholic schools....

...Approximately 50% of all parishes now operate in the red, up from 32% three years ago....

My comments: The last 50 years for the Church in America and elsewhere has been a disaster. So many of the experiments with the priesthood, religious life, the liturgy and parish life have left most Catholics with a loss of Catholic identity,culture and most of all Faith and Morals.  The ambiguities of the 1960's and 70's now once again recovered in the current papacy will accelerate the continued decline. There is no Francis effect in Pittsburgh or other places that I can tell.

Certainly none of this confusion and ambiguities in trying to fix something that wasn't broken, like the priesthood, religious life, the Mass and parish life was intentional. Many foolishly and pridefully thought there was going to be a new springtime for the Church but it has turned into a long fall and winter.

Why so many continue the same old things that have caused the loss of Catholic identity, culture, Faith and Morals is beyond me.

And just when we needed a strong Catholic Faithful, built upon the precepts of the Church, her Deposit of Faith and her culture and centuries of tradition and Tradition, all that collapsed as a result of the theology of rupture employed by so many bishops after Vatican II with the Church prior to Vatican II. Thus the clergy sex abuse scandal truly scandalized the faithful, especially the bishops' mismanagement of their clergy and thoughtlessness towards victims and potential victims. Mercy run amuck for the perverted!  There was nothing left of the Catholic faith and her traditions to bolster the authentic faith and resolve of strong Catholics rigidly fixed on doctrine and Christ to help them grapple with such despicable evil. In fact, many Catholics were/are coloring book Catholics and don't believe in Satan, the power of his repression, deception and possession. Vatican II has not and cannot help them to cope with Satan who seeks the ruin of souls and the destruction of the Church.

I have no real answers. We can't force a pre-Vatican II model on the universal Church if people didn't and don't take Pope Benedict seriously. But I know there was more interest in the Church as a result of Pope Benedict and more younger people engaged in his perspective on renewal in continuity than there is for Pope Francis' approach. Am I wrong?


Anonymous said...

Families having only two children is the problem. Not being able to live a good lifestyle because to many children cost too much is the problem. Not having mom at home because she has to work to pay for that lifestyle is the problem. Not being able to have more than two children and send the all to Catholic School is the problem and forcing them to be indoctrinated by the State education system is the problem. Back to the original point not enough Catholic Children being born to fill the churches is the problem.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Yes, you are wrong, for the reason I have stated repeatedly. Trying to understand the behavior of Catholics w/o reference to the culture as a whole results in a faulty diagnosis and, therefore, a faulty prescription for a cure.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, population control and the demise of the large Catholic Family is the problem--and no religious orders under the vow of poverty to run Catholic schools has caused Catholic education to skyrocket in price with laity running schools who are not vowed to poverty and expect a good salary so that only the rich who work multiple jobs to send their two or less children to Catholic schools can afford it.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

All that is part of Catholic culture, large families, meatless Fridays, strict lenten discipline, religious habits with nuns and brothers galore as well as an abundance of priests who ran the church on meager salaries to enable the laity to have large families and receive authentic support from the Church in the abundant parochial schools that existed. All that has been wiped out within 20 years after the Council let alone 50.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Welcome back, hope your voyage did not result in riveritis.

ByzRC said...

"But I know there was more interest in the Church as a result of Pope Benedict and more younger people engaged in his perspective on renewal in continuity than there is for Pope Francis' approach. Am I wrong?"

No. You are correct. He was a delight to watch, read and have as part of your life even if only through the internet.

Bishops will continue to toe-the-line, parishes will continue chasing pseudo-vibrancy, mass attendance will continue to fall because, let's face it, most of the time, it is not the most beautiful thing this side of heaven. And, to your point, during the profoundly destructive, disruptive and expensive scandals, the loss of tradition left many feeling that there was nothing to hold them up except for the collection baskets waiting for their money. In the end, outside of the areas of population redistribution, nothing will change except for the TLM communities which will likely continue to flourish and grow.

Regarding the Francis Effect, outside of the liberal media and diocesan propaganda, there isn't one. Aside from the Canon, Anaphora, and occasionally during a homily, I don't hear people talk about him much. To me, it does feel as though everything has been re-coated with that gloomy shellac from the '70s. I would love to see this papacy through the rose colored glasses worn by Mark Thomas but, I cannot and am resigned to just waiting patiently for it to find its end.

TJM said...

Another Vatican Disaster II and Novus Ordo Triumph! Yes, that Novus Ordo is packing the people in!!! It's sooooooooooooooooooooooo inspiring.

TJM said...

Father McDonald, you're wasting your breath on Father Kavanaugh. If Jesus Christ himself told him he was wrong, he would say, "No, I am not Lord, you are!"

Mark Thomas said...

In Africa and Asia, "Novus Ordoism" is booming. Outside those places...Catholicism is not booming.

In vast areas of the world, there isn't any "Francis effect"...just as there wasn't any "effect" via Popes Blessed Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI.

The collapse of the Church dates in earnest to Pope Venerable Pius XII's Pontificate. Said Pope was a holy man who, in good faith, initiated radical reforms to "modernize" the Church.

Pope Venerable Pius XII's program of modernization has been the way of the Church from the 1940s to date.

The restoration of the TLM is vital to the restoration of the Church throughout the West. However, the majority of Churchmen will not travel that path.

Pope Benedict XVI declared that the Novus Ordo will remain the primary Mass of the Latin Church. He declared that Summorum Pontificum was issued to "tolerate" merely the few (speaking relatively) Catholics who prefer to worship via the TLM.

If Pope Benedict XVI, who had grown up with and been formed by the TLM, refused to move the Novus Ordo aside to restore the TLM to its rightful place to altars throughout the Latin Church, then...forget it.

The Novus Ordo is here to stay. The Faith throughout the West will almost certainly continue to collapse.


Friday, 12 September 2008

Question: "What do you say to those who, in France, fear that the "Motu proprio' Summorum Pontificum signals a step backwards from the great insights of the Second Vatican Council? How can you reassure them?"

Pope Benedict XVI: "Their fear is unfounded, for this "Motu Proprio' is merely an act of tolerance, with a pastoral aim, for those people who were brought up with this liturgy, who love it, are familiar with it and want to live with this liturgy.

"They form a small group, because this presupposes a schooling in Latin, a training in a certain culture. Yet for these people, to have the love and tolerance to let them live with this liturgy seems to me a normal requirement of the faith and pastoral concern of any Bishop of our Church. There is no opposition between the liturgy renewed by the Second Vatican Council and this liturgy."

Pope Benedict XVI, in a letter to bishops in regard to Summorum Pontificum:

"Already from these concrete presuppositions, it is clearly seen that the new Missal will certainly remain the ordinary Form of the Roman Rite, not only on account of the juridical norms, but also because of the actual situation of the communities of the faithful."


Mark Thomas

******* May Bishop Fellay, who has called His Holiness Pope Francis to "correction," accept, in turn, the merciful correction that Holy Mother Church has offered to him since 1988 A.D. to return him to full-communion with the True Church. *******

Henry said...

When a churchman refers to "the new springtime of the Church", or to "the glorious fruit of Vatican II", stop up your ears, less you hear even more arrant nonsense from his lips.

Anonymous said...

If Catholic families had more children, maybe then they'll be able to "give them up" to the religious life. As it is with two children, it makes it important for them to have families so they can have their one or two children. Meanwhile Islam takes over.

Anonymous said...

Population control? Eh? Is there some law forbidding parents from having as many children as they want in this country? Part of the decline in large families may be because people marry later these days, which may not be a bad thing (you don't want some couples who are too young or otherwise unprepared for marriage tying the know and then divorcing a short time later).

We are not suffering from underpopulation in the Atlanta area---just drive on our interstates at rush hour and you will see what I mean.

But we also overlook that people are leaving the Northeast in droves---high taxes, lousy services, cold winters. Just like people started to leave the cities for the suburbs after World War 2, leaving us with too many parishes in the inner city. Been going on for decades---over the last two generations, Florida has passed in population such states as Illinois, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania. A good time to be a Catholic down in Dixie.

Mark Thomas said...

ByzRC said..."I would love to see this papacy through the rose colored glasses worn by Mark Thomas but, I cannot and am resigned to just waiting patiently for it to find its end."

I don't wear rose-colored glasses. I view the Pope through Holy Mother Church's teaching. God commands me to treat Pope Francis charitably (as is the case with each person on earth) and submit to Pope Francis authority to teach, govern, and sanctify me.

That said, I recognize that a Pope...a bishop's...pastoral desires may fail to obtained positive results.

I recognize that just about everywhere on earth, Africa and Asia aside, the Catholic Faith is in danger of virtual death.

There isn't a "Francis Effect." For that matter, that applied also to Popes Benedict XVI, Saint John Paul II, and Blessed Paul VI.

Beginning in earnest with Pope Venerable Pius XII, our holy Pontiffs have instituted many radical reforms to "modernize" the Church. We have witnessed the results of said reforms.

But bashing, not that you have, our Roman Pontiffs...claiming that they are "Evil Clowns...heretics...communists...agents of Satan" is not the Catholic way. Such rage doesn't benefit the cause to renew the Church.

The way forward is to attach one's self (and remaining attached to the Pope) to the TLM. We must also pray that God will inspire our Churchmen to at least allow the TLM to "compete," if you will, on a level field with the Novus Ordo.

Catholics can then attach themselves to either (or assist at both) Mass.

That is a peaceful solution to end the Church's liturgical war.


Mark Thomas

Bernard Fischer said...

"Increasing evangelization and vibrancy by closing parishes". That's pretty impressive double-think. Kind of like "Increasing love and fidelity by committing adultery." Oh, wait...

Joseph Johnson said...

Somewhere along the line I missed learning the notion that Catholic clergy and some religious, especially bishops, are, apparently, supposed to be near infallible experts on the subject of sociology and culture. This must be the explanation for why those in power continue to act in accordance with Fr. Kavanaugh's earlier comment and for why they (even when they come from another section or cultural background) will tell us how the Mass should be "inculturated" in our own local culture.

I'll never forget my little brother telling me once how he was made to go to a Catholic Youth function in the neighboring town of Douglas, Georgia back in the 80's. The religious sister there, who spoke with a strong Yankee accent, apparently assumed that middle-school aged and teenaged south Georgia kids (a stereotype of rural people and southerners) would naturally want to square-dance. She then got on the microphone and announced, "Now, we're going to have Strawberry Shortcake Square-dance" while placing a small pink 45 rpm Strawberry Shortcake record (made for little girls) on the phonograph.

My little brother immediately snuck out of the building in disgust and hid out for the remainder of the event in the high "dog fennels" in a vacant lot across the street.
One of my other brothers went out to look and found him sitting there in the weeds sweating and fuming, "This is bulls--t!" So much for that good Yankee sister understanding the culture of south Georgia teenagers in the 1980's . . .

rcg said...

This does sound suspiciously like they will increase spending for social programs with the savings of the closed parishes. Bishops seem to think of their parishes like franchises and markets.

Joseph Johnson said...

Mark Thomas,
Of all the MANY words you have written in comments on this blog, there is one statement in which I STRONGLY agree with you:

"We must also pray that God will inspire our Churchmen to at least allow the TLM to 'compete,' if you will, on a level field with the Novus Ordo. Catholics can then attach themselves to either (or assist at both) Mass (sic). That is a peaceful solution to end the Church's liturgical war."

If our churchmen would implement such a scenario of REAL liturgical choice, rather than continuing to impose their interpretations of sociology and inculturation on us in the kind of liturgy they want us to have, the Church would be much better off. Thanks for that statement!

Gene said...

Unbelief is the issue everywhere...we are discussing the symptoms and not the cause.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, it is the loss of faith caused by the hyper-secularism of the day and the Church which sowed seeds of confusion among the faithful these past 50 years that did not equip Catholics to remain in the Church or to shore up the authentic faith of those who attend each Sunday.

Mark Thomas said...

Joseph Johnson said..."Mark Thomas, Of all the MANY words you have written in comments on this blog, there is one statement in which I STRONGLY agree with you:"

Mister Johnson, among the MANY words that I've written here, you do not agree STRONGLY, for example, with the following...

"…whoever is holy cannot dissent from the Pope." — Pope Saint Pius X, 1912 A.D.

"In the Apostolic See the Catholic Religion has always been preserved immaculate."

This religious submission of mind and will must be shown in a special way to the authentic magisterium of the Roman Pontiff, even when he is not speaking ex cathedra; that is, it must be shown in such a way that his supreme magisterium is acknowledged with reverence, the judgments made by him are sincerely adhered to, according to his manifest mind and will."

You don't agree STRONGLY with me...actually, with Holy Mother Church...that God has commanded you to submit to the Pope Francis' awesome authority to teach, govern, and sanctify you?

You don't agree STRONGLY with the above quotations which, in turn, I have posted many times to Father McDonald's blog?


Mark Thomas

*******Please pray that Bishop Fellay, who is not in full-communion with Holy Mother Church, but is keen to "correct" the Vicar of Christ, His Holiness Pope Francis, will accept Holy Mother Church's merciful correction which, since 1988 A.D., She has offered to restore him (Bishop Fellay) to full-communion with the True Church. *******

John Nolan said...

If, as Fr Kavanaugh points out, the prevailing culture has led to a general decline in religious belief and observance, one must look at the Church's response. Has she been too ready to adapt to and accommodate this culture?

Is this one of the times in her long history where the Church (and I don't simply mean the Church authorities) is called upon to be clearly and unambiguously counter-cultural? It's not an easy path, but it has been trodden before.

Mark Thomas said...

Joseph Johnson said..."If our churchmen would implement such a scenario of REAL liturgical choice, rather than continuing to impose their interpretations of sociology and inculturation on us in the kind of liturgy they want us to have, the Church would be much better off. Thanks for that statement!"

Thank you, Mister Johnson. I hope that as Catholics, you and I agree on more than the above. But at least we agree in regard to the above.

May you and your family enjoy peace and good health.


Mark Thomas

Gene said...

The Catholic Church's evangelization is failing because it is based upon a humanistic/social appeal. Nobody but liberals (already unbelievers) care about that stuff. The Church has not been comfortable for a long time with the actual aggressive preaching of repentance, sin and damnation, and the reality of Judgement and eternal loss. People need and want to hear that this world and its humanistic failed solutions are not the end. They want to feel real forgiveness for the deep guilt they feel for their sins and failures; they want to know that they will see Christ and their loved ones face to face in a real Resurrection, not some BS self-renewal or existential self-epiphany. Criminals, con men, and un-churched people need to be frightened into the Church by the very real prospect of eternal damnation...but, they need to hear it preached and told by us. Stones are being offered by the Church instead of bread...

Joseph Johnson said...

Pope Francis is the Pope. I think that Cardinal Mueller is right to ask for a disputation on the questions that arise from erroneous interpretations of AL which have arisen due to its ambiguous language in some parts and the Pope's silence and failure to respond to the Cardinals' dubia and this most recent "Filial Correction". This is not a dispute that I have been following extremely closely because I care far more about the problems with liturgy.

Pope Francis is the Pope but he is not my personal favorite because of his less formal, less traditional style (not being humble enough to accede and use the traditional trappings of the Papacy as did his immediate predecessors). It is good that he has not revoked SP and calls the SSPX "Catholic." Some of his statements can be confusing, at best. Yet, he is still the Pope.

Is that good enough?

Anonymous said...

Do you think that part of the problem might be that churches have morphed from Sanctuaries where priests said the Mass into community centers? Also Catholic schools shifted from centers of Catholic learning into an alternative secular education.

TJM said...

Part of the problem is that many priests function as glorified social workers rather than spiritual leaders

Joe Potillor said...

One of the Pope's jobs was to be the last court of appeal, or to settle doctrinal questions. If the Pope can't even do that, why should he be taken seriously?, I'm just an Easterner waiting for this pontificate to end...