Archbishop Sean O’Malley says he’s not likely to change his mind on any parish closings. He said on Sunday that his decisions were made on solid evidence and that the only thing that would make him reconsider would be new evidence that wasn’t available when he made his decision. O’Malley says that contrary to the media coverage, most parishes are accepting their fate with sadness, but also acknowledgement of the need.
One of the things that’s disturbed me about stories in the local papers has been the lack of context. We’re told about people’s tears and anger, but we’re not often given the relevant details. How small was the parish? How has its population declined? What has weekly Mass attendance been like? How do they compare to their neighbors? If we knew these things we could then assess the relevance of the statements of parishioners. As it is, every story makes it seem that an out-of-touch archbishop is closing the most vibrant, alive parish out there. If that’s so, then why would they be marked for closure? If that’s so, then why do all surveys show that less than 20 percent of Catholics attend Mass on Sunday? No parish is thriving, but some are doing better than others. And that means some must close for the good of the Church.