There’s a debate raging in the comments box at Amy Welborn’s blog over Cardinal Keeler’s appointment of a laywoman as pastoral administrator for a Baltimore parish. whether or not it’s appropriate for a lay person to lead a parish (the reality is that it happens all the time all over the world), you have to wonder why Keeler felt it necessary to do this now. Just look at some statistics available on the archdiocese’s web site. (I will concede these stats are a year old, but I don’t think the numbers have changed that much, Scandal or no).
There are 162 parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Eleven are without a resident pastor. Four are administered by a priest (not a pastor), one by a deacon, four by women religious, one is a mission, and now the one administered by a lay woman. But there are 231 active diocesan priests and 238 religious priests (35 parishes already have religious order pastors). The archdiocese isn’t even close to having fewer priests than parishes. So what is the real motivation here?