I was sent an article from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review about Bp. David Zubik and his view of, plans for the Diocese entrusted to his care. Apparently the horizon is pretty dark for the Church in Pittsburgh (as it is in many places) and some changes have to be made. Here is some of the article with my usual emphases and comments.
There is one point, the first point, about his first priority, that really struck me:
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh must focus on “better homilies, better music and more people” as its six-county territory attempts to reverse a series of “sobering” trends and prepares for a major overhaul in 2018, Bishop David Zubik said Wednesday.
“The No. 1 priority has to be, ‘We need to make our worship better,’” [YES! A thousand times YES! As I have been shouting for decades now, no undertaking or project we initiate in the Church will bear lasting fruit unless we revitalize our sacred liturgical worship of God! The first thing we owe to God, by the virtue of religion, is worship. If we don’t have that in order in the hierarchy of priorities, nothing else will be in order.] Zubik told the Tribune-Review. “Second of all, we need to do the best job that we can to get not only more ordained leaders, but we really have to open up lots of doors for the lay leaders of the church.” [Work on vocations to the PRIESTHOOD. And I know a way to foster BOTH revitalized worship AND vocations: the Extraordinary Form of Holy Mass! Widespread use of the Traditional Rite will shift the way priests say the Novus Ordo, their ars celebrandi. That will have an knock-on effect in parishes, congregations. Also, it will draw more vocations to the priesthood. For the love of God and of the Church, train seminarians in LATIN (explicitly required by the 1983 Code of Canon Law, can. 249) and the older, traditional form of the Mass and the Office. If they don’t know the Extraordinary Form then they don’t know their Rite! And if they don’t know their Rite, they haven’t been properly formed in seminary! Thus, when they come to ordination, and someone attests that they were properly formed….]
The Pittsburgh diocese is closing in on the parishioner-input phase of a comprehensive planning initiative called “On Mission for the Church Alive!,” through which leaders are examining how to strengthen church participation, reorganize aging infrastructure and make the most of dwindling resources.
They’re up against dismal data.
The number of active Catholics within the Pittsburgh diocese has declined rapidly in recent decades, from 914,000 in 1980 to 632,000 in 2015, diocesan figures show.
Since 2000, weekly Mass attendance has dropped by 40 percent [whew!] — for almost 100,000 fewer regular churchgoers; K-8 Catholic school enrollment fell by 50 percent; and the number of active priests plummeted from 338 to 225.
By 2025, if trends hold, the diocese projects that just 112 active priests will remain. [I’ll say it again: EXTRAORDINARY FORM!]
Empty pews correlate with dwindling coffers: About half of almost 200 parishes lost money in 2015, compared with one-third of parishes operating in the red in 2012, Zubik said.
Critics of a massive reorganization — such as small groups of parishioners who’ve fought recent closures of cash-strapped churches — worry that too much emphasis will be placed on consolidation breaking up longtime faith communities. [Want to revive a church? Try the EXTRAORDINARY FORM!]
There is a lot more to read and it is rather grim, alas. I’m afraid that this is the situation all over. I know a diocese in Louisiana which will lose 50% of their priests over the next 5 years. This is GRIM people. It’s heading straight at us like the Big Death Meteor.
And those are only the problems within the Church. We also are going to have to contend – soon – with horrific pressure from without, especially if a certain criminally negligent un-named woman candidate is elected and starts retooling the Supreme Court in her own ghastly culture of death image.
Let’s try something old/new. The older Mass built our Church back in the day. I think it can be a principle tool for rebuilding the Church in our day.
I know that this post will be read in chanceries across these USA. Please, Fathers, Bishops, open your hearts to this proposal. Let’s return to the basics and take to heart what Benedict proposed: side by side use of the two rites, extraordinary and ordinary.