Other folks are starting to talk about the Crisis Magazine article on healthy dioceses, I wrote about a couple of weeks ago. Among them are Amy Welborn, who along with some others, was asked to offer responses by the magazine.
I also agree with Russell Shaw’s response, in particular, on the weakness of the study.
Consider: Of the three criteria used in ranking sees, two (priestly morale and priestly vocations) concern clerics, while the third (“effective evangelization”) refers to newcomers to the Church. None reflects the situation of the great majority of Catholics—the longtime lay faithful. Casual readiness to disbelieve, as manifested by the moviegoer quoted above, is typical of an alienated, marginalized, and apparently large segment of this mass. But the laity doesn’t make it into the special report.
Shaw adds that perhaps the reason that so much data was left out of the study because so much of it isn’t available, by design or by accident. Some dioceses do a good job of transparency, some are moving in that direction, and others are as closed as always.
So what data sets would have given us a better picture of the health of dioceses. How about the rate of Mass attendance and sacramental participation? If it is low, what is the mindset of those who don’t go? If it is high, what do those who go know that those who don’t go don’t? Perhaps they should have also ranked dioceses based on the beliefs of Catholics, such as the percentage who know the doctrine of the Real Presence and transubstantiation, and other dogmatic beliefs. Where people have a high level of belief in line with the Church’s teachings, i.e. The Truth, what are those dioceses doing differently?
All about demographics?