The Church in the US is facing a major financial crisis and legal settlements for sex abuse are only part of the problem.
“Many of the archdioceses are very marginal operations, and the reason for that is they have a very aging infrastructure that includes the parishes and schools,” Butler said from the Washington-based Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, known as FADICA.
In addition, American Catholics give less per person to their individual churches than Protestants or Jews do, Butler said, adding that those who do give are getting older.
These are problems that have been with us for years and have been creeping up on us. A dollar in the basket on Sunday doesn’t buy as much oil, pay as much mortgage, or fund as much insurance as it used to. Then when you consider that 80 percent of Catholics aren’t going to Mass on Sunday and you begin to see why closing parishes has become a necessity. Of the several reasons given for closing parishes in Boston, the most immediate is financial. It has the most immediate impact in any case.
Some will claim that they have lots of money in the bank. Sure, but for how long? And when you have two parishes with lots of money right next to each other in a wealthy suburb, what do you do about the inner-city parish serving a poor community that needs diocesan subsidies?
The bishops have said they do not own church property but hold it in trust for parishioners. If bankruptcy judges find that parishioners themselves own church property and can dispose of it as they see fit, that would be a major shift, Zech said.
I’m not that’s exactly what they’re claiming since, as we’ve already discussed here, Trusteeism was rejected by the Vatican in the 19th century, although a few dioceses continue to practice a form of it despite the order.