Archbishop O’Malley met with the priests of Boston today about parish closings. Long story, short: about 50 to 60 of 360 parishes will close, occurring in three stages—June 1, August 1, and October 1. That’s faster than I thought it would happen, but it’s probably a good thing to do it quick, like ripping a band-aid off a scab.
There is no list yet, but the usual indicators will be used: attendance, financial status, physical condition of the buildings, and sacramental index (number of baptisms, weddings, and funerals). Parishes with new immigrant communities and schools are going to be safer. But they will also look for input from priests and laypeople.
Voice of the Faithful members were interviewed by the media, of course, and were quick to praise the archbishop for including lay people in the process. But they act as if, before VOTF, lay people were never involved in the governance of the Church or big decisions, which is completely false. Just for example, when the parishes of Salem were tasked by Cardinal Law to recommend which of the 6 parishes should close, it was a committee of priests and laypeople who did the work. And that’s not unusual.
I think that the closings will not be met with as much rancor as they have in the past, although there will inevitably be hard feelings. The fact that it’s a new archbishop and that the archdiocese first announced it is selling the archbishop’s residence will help.
I hope to get more information from my sources and let you know mre details.