Wednesday, March 25, 2009

"Recession" hits Churches

St. James pictured below, in Lakewood Ohio is slated to close.

St. Ignatius of Antioch in Cleveland, Ohio, will be closed. Earlier this month the Diocese of Cleveland announced that 29 parishes will close. It's part of a trend of church closures in the Northeast and Upper Midwest.

"Earlier this month, Bishop Richard G. Lennon of the Diocese of Cleveland, which serves more than 750,000 Catholics, announced that 29 parishes will close and 41 others will merge. The reconfiguration plan, which will effectively cut 52 parishes in the current tally of 224, is scheduled to go into effect by June 30, 2010.

What drove the decision to close parishes in Cleveland were population shifts to outlying areas, financial strains that have 42 percent of parishes "operating in the red" and priest shortages, diocese spokesman Robert Tayek explained.

The recession is one reason for the need to shut down parishes, but the other reason the Catholic Church is having financial hard times?

In 2004, within months of the Archdiocese of Boston announcing it would pay a settlement of $85 million to more than 500 alleged sex abuse victims, 60 parishes were cut. As far as the Church suffering the consequences of choosing to protect sexual predator priests.... you'll find no sympathy from me. It was a choice to allow & protect the abusers, made on high levels, and the sexual abuse victims had every right to sue. Clergy should be held to a higher standard of behavior- theirs was a double violation- the sexual and spiritual/trust abuse.

But the flip side of some of the functions of churches is their community services and support.

"The announcement has raised many questions. Among them: What happens to the struggling neighborhoods that have come to rely on outreach and programs offered by some of these inner-city parishes?

"Too many bishops are treating parishes as if they were Starbucks franchises," said Sister Christine Schenk, a Cleveland-area nun who's been fighting for nearly two decades to institute change in the church through her organization FutureChurch.

"It's about more than money. It's about mission to the people," she said. "This isn't what Jesus would do." (CNN reports)

It is sad to see these spiritual sanctuaries fade away, as well as the lifelines of support they delivered to the nearby communities.So many churches are at the front lines of helping the homeless, hosting families with a place to sleep, meals, support through extremely hard times.

What will happen to those people?

What will become of these empty buildings?

American Prayer


Annette said...

There is no reason to close those churches if they are owned by the Catholic church.. there is more money in the Catholic church or any of the churches than anywhere else. That's just a false premise... It's got to be for another reason they are closing their doors.

Fran said...

Apparently, they were hit hard by the sex offender lawsuits, and lots of people bailed from the church after all that became public. People felt like that was the last straw, and the previous Pope said just pray for them & asked for forgiveness.... when they should have gone to jail, and been prohibited from having unsupervised contact with children, instead they were moved to another parish, where they could continue with the sexual abuse.
Parishioners numbers are down, and days of the past where people tithed or gave serious donations to the church are fading out... and we have a crummy economy. Add lots of very old buildings in serious need of repairs & I can see where they
have to consolidate parishes if money is tight.

Anyway, that is what is happening.... and it is true often churches really do pick up the slack for supporting the needs of the community.... shutting down a church in an impoverished community is a double hit.

Unknown said...

I do believe the Catholic Church is one of the richest in the world.

But I do feel horrible about their outreach and food banks going out of business. Obama plans to continue the faith-based handout that Bush started, but evidently it's too late for the Catholic churches.

That's a beautiful church photo you have up Fran.

enigma4ever said...

I am working on my Church Post- there are MANY closing- so so in the NE so sad..they also take care of people here- counseling to meals to ESL classes- it is a horrible thing - esp to lose such churchs in the Urban settings they are a lifeline.....

thank you for blogging this...

enigma4ever said...

quick note- the Head Church Dude- came to us from Boston where he also closed many churches- and people camped in the Churches and claimed the parrishes- I hope that happens here.....