Since 2004, the number of parishes in the Boston Archdiocese has plummeted from 357 to 291. Archdiocesan planners are now considering reducing that number further, anywhere from 80 to 120 “groupings” according to Associate Press. (Don’t be fooled by words like grouping, consolidation or cluster. Plain and simple, it means that some parishes will close and their congregations asked to shuffle off to another church, or in this case, a “single parish center.”)
The plan “will be initiated by the new parish groups, not the archdiocese….The archdiocese, however, would still have final say.”
The archdiocese has cited numerous statistics to show it must run differently. Among them: 40 percent of its parishes won’t be able to pay their bills this year [and] only 17 percent of local Catholics now attend Mass.
Kudos to Boston Catholics. We’re often reminded the Catholic Church is not a democracy; neither can we be forced to contribute or show up.
In spite of Archbishop Sean O’Malley’s “efforts to improve education and evangelization….The archdiocese still has annual operating losses overall, including $8.2 million last year.”
It appears that the hidden donors currently shoring up the American Catholic Church have abandoned O’Malley to fend for himself because the traditionally progressive, Democratic Boston Catholics are not wanted as members of the Roman Catholic Church. GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum stated in the early days of the clerical sex abuse scandal, “[I]t is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.” It was sentiment shared by Catholic rightwingers who never forgave Bostonians for pulling off the resignation by Cardinal Bernard Law.
The Church’s hidden donors achieved a major victory this past week. Italian financial officials released the $33 million belonging to the Vatican Bank which had been seized as part of a money-laundering investigation. The funds were frozen because the Vatican refused to provide the source of the money and the reason for the transfer as is required by international financial regulations. The money was returned without the Vatican having to disclose this information.
Prosecutors said they did this because the Vatican now has an Authority for Financial Information even though the agency’s first public action is to refuse to comply with the very same regulations it was created to enforce.
Is it possible to imagine any explanation other than the “powers that be” who use and need the Church’s global clandestine financial network ordered the Italian authorities to do so?
As I wrote before, the Vatican and its bishops are assuming tighter control over worldwide Catholic “charity” including Caritas Internationalis. The British Catholic newspaper, The Tablet, in writing about the takeover, states that Caritas is “the second-largest humanitarian relief agency in the world after the Red Cross.” That’s a lot of additional power for the Holy See.
Finally, as I wrote about the pope’s trip to Croatia, Benedict is anxious to have another ally in the European Union and will do what he can to support Croatia’s acceptance into the EU. The Associated Press report about today’s visit confirmed that “The Vatican has strongly supported [Croatia’s] bid for entry into the EU, eager to see another country with shared values join the 27-member bloc.”
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