Disaster in liberal Germany leads to massive parish crisis closures

bad fruit rotten appleBy their fruits…

From this story at volksfreund.de It looks as if the German Diocese of Trier will reduce the number of parishes from 887 to 35.

Dear readers, parishes are not the sole responsibility of bishops and priests.  They are your responsibility too.

Parishes need priests.  Do you pray for vocations to the priesthood?  Do you support seminarians and seminaries?  Do you ask for vocations from your own homes and speak in a positive way about the priesthood?

Parishes have bills.  If you want a parish, you have to pay the bills.  The bills don’t pay themselves.  Magic wands don’t create money from thin air.  You have to be involved with “time, treasure and talent”.

Finally, always always always resist with clarity and perseverance the liberal agendas which turn dioceses and parishes into wastelands.


From my email…

On May 9, 2017, Mark de Vries wrote that there were only 4 priestly ordinations in this large, 46 arch/diocese territory so far:

“The past few weeks have again seen a number of ordinations of new deacons and priests in the dioceses of northwestern Europe. 24 of them, in 13 (arch)dioceses, to be exact. In total, the area in question (the countries of Germany, the Netherlands, the Flemish part of Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland) is covered by 46 dioceses or similar circumscriptions, which means that 33 of them had no deacons (permanent or transitional) or priests to ordain on or around Vocations Sunday. Of the newly ordained, 6 are permanent deacons, 14 are transitional deacons and 4 are priests.” (https://incaelo.wordpress.com/2017/05/09/new-deacons-and-a-few-priests-for-northwestern-europe/)

To the best of my ability to determine at the moment, below are the numbers from 16 dioceses out of the 46 — 16 dioceses with approximately 40 new priests ordained or about to be ordained — with the other 30 dioceses of the 46 arch/dioceses not reporting any prebyteral ordinations this far into “ordination season,” which is winding down (there may yet be priestly ordinations in the fall, but that is not typical — most presbyteral ordinations remain May-June-July). (This number also does not reflect transitional diaconate ordinations, which would indicate the numbers of new priests for next year).


Meanwhile, in the Archdiocese of Hartford, via CNA:

Hartford, Conn., Jun 15, 2017 / 06:13 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Important decisions loom ahead as the Archdiocese of Hartford preps its reorganization plan, a reconstruction and consolidation of parishes throughout much of Connecticut.

Under the new plan, 144 parishes in the archdiocese will be merged into 59 new parishes. Each new church community will be made up of two to six old parishes.

The reorganization, which will officially begin on June 29, will cut the number of parishes nearly in half, from 212 to 127.

Only 68 parishes will go untouched in the reorganization.

Saint Margaret of Scotland in Waterbury is the only church scheduled to be deconsecrated thus far, with no announcement from the archdiocese as to what will happen with the building itself. Additionally, 26 church buildings will close, and will not hold regularly scheduled Mass times.


Is there an answer?   How about implementing Summorum Pontificum?  How about taking Card. Sarah’s advice and returning to ad orientem worship?

As I have said a zillion times, no initiative we undertake as a Church will succeed unless we revitalize our sacred liturgical worship.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mharden says:

    “Parishes have bills.”

    But it was my understanding that the church in Germany is flush with cash due to the church tax? So, the closure of parishes there is solely due to empty churches and not shortage of funds? [Do you live in Germany?]

  2. rwj says:

    And many of the German hierarchy tongues’ wagged with proposed solutions that bless and sanction divorce, and now sounds like contraception may be served up next..probably to be followed by same sex ‘accompaniment’… and all of which leads to the optionally barren landscape in Trier and in many western/euro dioceses. No children = no parishioners = no local parish or priest.

    You are very right to remind all Fr., that the faithful remnant ought to be well prepared to travel to find mass, and work to support that place, most especially work to make it as holy as possible.

    I perhaps think some bishops are just fine with the small number of priests, and parishes today.

  3. Gabriel Syme says:

    the closure of parishes there is solely due to empty churches and not shortage of funds?

    The German Church is very rich, I think a lack of priests is a big problem, as in France. All the little towns and villages in Germany have their own Church, I expect the modern Church struggles to fill these.

    I am actually in Trier at the minute. St Peters Cathedral and The Church of Our Lady are both stunning, but both bear the marks of post conciliar ugliness. You can tell when things – stained glass, altar tables, art etc – were added by how ugly they are. Even the stuff in the Cathedral gift shop is downright ugly.

    We hope to go to see the tomb of St Matthias the Apostle tomorrow, that would beat even my trip to the Bitburger Brewery earlier this week (haha!).

    The SSPX have a chapel in Trier. Its in a converted industrial unit, upstairs from an truck accident repair office. You have to clank up a metal staircase to get in. But I will testify a sung latin mass in an industrial unit beats a tambourine chorus in any Cathedral. We were visitors. I guess maybe a few dozen people go there, but plenty kids. Its a start. How gracious it would be for the Diocese to grant use of one these closing Churches to this small but faithful congregation.

  4. LDP says:

    I fear it’s ‘einen Teufelskreis’, quite literally. Without younger and more traditional priests there will be no significant liturgical improvement, but without a significant liturgical improvement there simply won’t be much desire amongst young, traditionally-minded, Catholic men to become priests, especially of the diocesan clergy in any case.

  5. Former Altar Boy says:

    “Is there an answer? How about implementing Summorum Pontificum?”

    The seminaries of the traditional orders are packed to the brim and often have to turn away young men. Elsewhere the traditional Mass is allowed church space at 5 am or past noon on Sunday in OF sanctuaries that require furniture moving or at least re-arrangement before and after each TLM. In the meantime, beautiful old churches are locked up or threatened with closure for lack of parishioners. Google St. Anne churchin San Diego and see what can happen when a bishop is willing to set aside his anti-TLM attitudes and turn a closed church over to a group that built a self-supporting and thriving parish.

  6. iamlucky13 says:

    I can’t say I was having a great Friday, but reading this made it truly depressing. May the Holy Spirit help the Church in Europe find its way again.

  7. aliceinstpaul says:

    Why would they need priests? They aren’t Catholic. They aren’t Christian. They aren’t even European.

    Forty per cent of five-year-olds in Germany are of “non-European” extraction

    Muslims don’t need priests.

    We would do well to recognize it is too late for much of Europe. What little of the Church is left needs to stop spreading its resources too thin and concentrate on preparing for the war to come. But for most Catholics, leaving now and going somewhere else may be necessary for life.

    If we are lucky and faithful, future generations will crusade to bring Christ back to Western Europe. Pray America will be around to send those crusaders.

  8. Benedict Joseph says:

    One hardly knows what to say.
    Surely you are correct, Father, the laity do have a responsibility to pray for vocations, to encourage them in the young men and women we know, to support the Church according to our means. But the photo you use to illustrate this report describes the dilemma most accurately. In essence we are saying to them “…here, eat this…”
    The episcopate and the superiors of religious communities are at the heart of the problem. Amongst them there is a scandalous lack of faith resulting in a severe lack of confidence and a dearth of viable goals. These are merely a few tangible symptoms of what are undermining vocations.
    If you are inside the clerical class you must keep your mouth shut or you will pay a price. If you are a reasonably well informed layman you are regarded as an uninformed groundling. There is no lack of vocations, there is a lack of viable dioceses and communities where one may respond to our Lord’s call. In the current ecclesial predicament I suspect there will be ever few each year.
    Could it be that this trajectory is intentional? Is there a method to this madness?
    I can’t help but think so.

  9. AHCatholic says:

    You are absolutely right Fr. Z as usual. How about all of us young 67 and unders use the survey to encourage broader implementation of Summorum Pontificum an ad orientum worship?!

  10. Gaetano says:

    At which point do they understand that the problem isn’t that they didn’t implement reforms fully enough? I feel like Cassandra.

  11. graytown says:

    Only 4 new priests in the Seattle Archdiocese this year.
    For the most part, another bastion of liberalism.

  12. Absit invidia says:

    “26 church buildings will close”

    . . . and these quislings will choose the most architectural identifiably Catholic structures to shutter

  13. Tom A. says:

    The faithful have only heeded what they have been taught these past 50 years. They have endured a steady diet of “it doesnt matter if you are Catholic anymore, just be nice.” No amount of Latin or incense or chanting is going to keep anyone in the pews unless the message changes.

  14. graytown says:

    Yes the message needs to solid –
    But it ALL starts and flows from the liturgy.
    The Mass is the most powerful message we have.
    If we don’t get that right, nothing else matters.

  15. comedyeye says:

    A parish can be deconsecrated? I never knew that. What else can be deconsecrated?

  16. Imrahil says:

    The dear mharden is right. It’s shortage of priests, and I guess, shortage of layfolk (that is directly; of course shortage of layfolk is no. 1 contributor to the more visible shortage of priests) which leads to the closure of churches.

  17. Imrahil says:

    Dear aliceinstpaul,

    surpassing the fact that you have been being offensive because that is after all obvious, let’s just note briefly that

    i) “non-European extraction” is probably a try to translate what literally translates as “immigration background”, that is, having an immigrant including a German refugee from Silesia as an ancestor [and if they did mean non-European and not just try to translate “immigration background”, then it would in any case just mean having such a one among one’s ancestors],

    ii) fourty per cent is remarkably different from one-hundred per cent,

    iii) this leaves out of the calculation that immigrant folk naturally tends to concentrate in big cities; if you count acres instead of heads, things look rather different.

  18. Gabriel Syme says:

    No amount of Latin or incense or chanting is going to keep anyone in the pews unless the message changes. [Which I don’t think anyone has claimed.]

    An astute comment.

    Reflecting on my own experience growing up in the 80s, there was no obvious point to the Church. It isnt clear to people today what the Church is, why it exists, why its special or what it is offering them. It isnt clear why the Church is important and why people should be interested in it. I think many modern clergy are ignorant of these things too, the blind leading the blind.

    My 1980s understanding of Sunday Mass was that it was a pretty mediocre weekly ‘get together’ for women and kids.

    When people understand what The Church is, they naturally they wish to go there often and not only in Sundays.

    The Churchs modern message is that the protestants and jews are both great and muslims definitely arent terrorists. Also, we all get to decide morality for ourselves. Dont forget to recycle!

    No-one is buying this tripe and no wonder.

  19. Amerikaner says:

    I believe it to be a plan to push for married clergy in the upcoming synod on youth and vocations. It is a manufactured event that “shows” the “crisis” of vocations and it’s effects and thereby opens the door to the discussion of married clergy by the Germans.

  20. ClavesCoelorum says:

    Regarding some earlier comments: I live in Germany and thus can hopefully provide some more perspective. Yes, the German Church has money. In 2015, Church tax revenue was €6.1 Billion. That money doesn’t, however, go straight to parishes then, however. Lots of it is used for upkeep of buildings, running hospitals, schools, charities, etc. Individual dioceses, of course, have additional sources of income apart from the Church tax. That’s, in liquid cash. A great portion of the Church’s wealth, however, lies in property. Bishops receive a salary from the state, not from the tax. That last bit is, however, very controversial, as you can imagine.

    The issue is, however, not one of money. There’s just no one to run the place anymore! Ordinations are rapidly decreasing, people are dying, baptisms are down. One day, it will all go over a cliff, and the whole system will collapse. In 10 to 20 years, millions will drop out of the tax (being above the age limit within which it applies, or dead) and in consequence the income will shrink dramatically. Dioceses are not prepared for this. They seem to think the Church tax is here to stay, and there will always be a steady flow of money to their coffers. Or at least for their lifetime. Meanwhile, chaos and decay are all around them, people are losing the Faith, Masses cannot be celebrated anymore, priests are overworked and struggling with health issues, seminarians are lacking. All the money is used for is really only keeping up the façade of a Church that may have existed in the 1950s, but doesn’t anymore today.

  21. Kate says:

    My 85-year-old father grew up in Hartford and is still a parishioner in a Hartford archdiocesan church. He is getting a bit forgetful at 85. He already (due to previous church consolidations) splits his time between two churches. M-W-F at one for daily Mass, T-Th-S at another. “What day is it? Which church should I go to?” are already questions he faces every morning.

    When the 29th of June arrives, a great abyss of confusion will arrive. Where will he go? At what time? How far will the distance be?

    My father has always been a devout Catholic. He certainly continues to contribute time, talent and treasures.

    Are we all responsible for the drop off in active Catholics? Was taking a year of his young life to discern a possible calling to the priesthood, sending all of his children to archdiocesan Catholic schools through to high school graduation, and attending dailyMass and praying the rosary and Divine Mercy chaplet every day not enough? Is structuring his days around Adoration and EWTN specials not enough? He never fails to put his neck out and explain Church teachings to family members who go astray. He has been ridiculed for his strong faith, but he soldiers on.

    Certainly, the archbishop does not know my dad personally, but every bishop must realize that there are many people like my dad who committed their whole lives to being truly Catholic – often at great, personal sacrifice – and in their old age, their needs are being tossed aside.

    Don’t even get me started on the issue of Our Lady of Mount Carmel up the road in Worcester, MA. Strong, faithful Catholics who do the right thing are punished with church closures.

    May God have mercy on us all and sustain our faith through the trials that are being forced on us.

  22. A devout Dutch layman, Mark de Vries, has a blog where he is keeping a running list of ordinations this year in NW Europe (https://incaelo.wordpress.com/), which is, as he describes it, Germany, the Netherlands, the Flemish part of Belgium, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland — covered by 46 dioceses and archdioceses. If I have read the numbers correctly on the lower-right side of his blog, then here are the presbyteral ordinations so far in that territory. As Mark posted back in early May, there were only 4 priestly ordinations at that time, and now there have been another 40 for the same area….but only in 16 of the 46 dioceses (if anyone out there knows of other presbyteral ordinations this year in the dioceses or archdioceses not listed below, please share that information):

    April 30 – Bruges, Belgium – 1 priest: Ettien Léon N’Guessan, 28, native of Ivory Coast. http://www.hln.be/regio/nieuws-uit-ieper/ettien-leon-n-guessan-uit-ivoorkust-tot-priester-gewijd-a3146782/

    May 6 – Eichstätt, Germany – 3 priests: Thomas Attensberger, 35, Kilian Schmidt, 38, Robert Willmann, 43. http://www.kirchenzeitung-eichstaett.de/fileadmin/domains/kirchenzeitung/Images/leseprobe/2017/04-april/Leseprobe_17_17.pdf

    May 14 – Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany – 4 priests: Stefan Jaskolla, 32, Jan Lipinski, 29, Frederik Reith, 28, Georg Seelmann, 28. http://www.ebfr.de/html/aktuell/aktuell_aktuell_u.html?&m=19718&artikel=76031&cataktuell=955 — the two priests with the obvious Polish names are nonetheless natives of Germany.

    June 3 – Erfurt, Germany – 1 priest: Andreas Kruse, 48.

    June 3 – Magdeburg, Germany – 1 priest: Marcel Liebing, 41.

    June 4 – Münster, Germany – 2 priests: Lukas Hermes, Matthias Rump.

    June 10 – Rotterdam, Netherlands – 1 priest: Eli Stok, 27.

    June 10 – Roermond, Netherlands – 1 priest: Geraldo de Vasconcelos (and one other, Henyer García Léon, for the Neocatechumenal Way in Roermond).

    June 10 – ‘s-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands – 1 priest: Sacha Steijaert, 43.

    June 17 – Speyer, Germany – 5 priests: Moritz Fuchs, Peter Heinke, Thomas Ott, Dominik Schindler, Matthias Schmitt. http://www.pilger-speyer.de/nachrichten/aus-dem-bistum/article/mit-begeisterung-und-zuversicht-in-den-beruf/

    June 23 – Cologne, Germany – 9 priests: Antanas Karciauskas, Thorsten Kluck, Johannes Ludger Kutter, Carlos Humberto Mendoza Sandoval (from Nicaragua), Juan Carlos Ruiz Romero (from Mexico), Michael Schmitt, Boris Schmitz, Michael Stärk, Stephan Wirgowski. (Archdiocese has $3.7 billion in assets — dwarfing the assets of the Vatican: http://www.dw.com/en/cologne-archdiocese-opens-books-reveals-wealth/a-18267686)

    June 24 – Haarlem-Amsterdam, Germany – 2 priests: Anton Goos, Teun Warnaar.

    July [unknown date] – Trier, Germany – 3 priests: Florian Dienhart, 26, Thomas Hufschmidt, 26, Frederik Simon, 27. (Which, as Father Z. has pointed out above, is a diocese established in the 1st c. A.D., now closing/consolidating about 900 parishes into 35: http://www.volksfreund.de/nachrichten/region/pruem/aktuell/Heute-in-der-Pruemer-Zeitung-Bischof-Ackermann-diskutiert-in-Pruem-die-Pfarreienreform;art8111,4649681)

    July 1 – Passau, Germany – 3 priests: Michael Klug, 42, Marco Stangl, 25, Peter Kunz, 30.

    September 2 – Germany & Scandinavia’s Ukrainian Exarchate – 1 priest: Myron Kuspys.

    November 11 – Utrecht, Netherlands – 2 priests: Ronald den Hartog, 44, Jesús Mauricio Meneses Santiago, 33.

    [Sigh. Thanks… I think. Still, it is better to know the true situation than to stumble forward in ignorance.]

  23. Benedict Joseph says:

    ClavesCoelorum and Kate offer invaluable insights into the “situation” here as well as abroad. You have to wonder if such understanding from the groundlings ever reached the eyes and ears of our episcopate as they bantered in Indianapolis. It leaves you boggled to see the continued emulation of mainline protestantism regarded as a viable model for the future of Roman Catholicism. It hasn’t worked, it doesn’t work. To say we are on the precipice of extinction is not hyperbole, yet they keep driving toward the next cliff.
    What does that say about them?
    Given the collapse of the Church in Germany both theologically and demographically, might it not be time to collapse its episcopate as well. Consolidate dioceses. Surely they require far far fewer bishops. Retire them. They have sufficient funds for the time being. The slate clean, in a generation or two start over. But for the martyrs they themselves murdered, and Lutheranism, the harvest of the German Roman Catholic Church have been rather few. It appears a futile enterprise. No fruit, cut it down.

  24. These are the 46 (arch)dioceses of the area in question:

    Archdiocese of Bamberg
    Archdiocese of Berlin
    Archdiocese of Freiburg im Breisgau
    Archdiocese of Hamburg
    Archdiocese of Köln
    Archdiocese of Luxembourg
    Archdiocese of München und Freising
    Archdiocese of Mechelen-Brussels
    Archdiocese of Paderborn
    Archdiocese of Utrecht
    Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch
    Diocese of Aachen
    Diocese of Antwerpen
    Diocese of Augsburg
    Diocese of Breda
    Diocese of Bruges
    Diocese of Dresden–Meißen
    Diocese of Eichstätt
    Diocese of Erfurt
    Diocese of Essen
    Diocese of Fulda
    Diocese of Görlitz
    Diocese of Ghent
    Diocese of Groningen-Leeuwarden
    Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam
    Diocese of Hasselt
    Diocese of Hildesheim
    Diocese of København
    Diocese of Limburg
    Diocese of Magdeburg
    Diocese of Mainz
    Diocese of Münster
    Diocese of Oslo
    Diocese of Osnabrück
    Diocese of Passau
    Diocese of Regensburg
    Diocese of Reykjavík
    Diocese of Roermond
    Diocese of Rottenburg-Stuttgart
    Diocese of Rotterdam
    Diocese of Speyer
    Diocese of Stockholm
    Diocese of Trier
    Diocese of Würzburg
    Territorial Prelature of Tromsø
    Territorial Prelature of Trondheim

  25. Joseph-Mary says:

    And all the accompaniment of sodomy and allowing for divorced and remarrieds to come to communion and the push for deaconettes and married priests and allowing contraception now….NONE of that will fill the pews. All that can be had in almost any protestant community and they are not faring all that well. The focus on climate change or immigration (that brings in fed money) will not fill the pews. Most of what is being advocated from the Vatican these days–building a false church?–will not fill the pews. Only Truth will draw souls like Kate’s grandfather who live and breath the holy Catholic faith and live devotions and a true sacramental and prayer life. I pray for the illumination of souls and heaven’s intervention as our children are being lost to the faithless and immoral society and wondering what their gender is.

  26. Maineman1 says:

    What an absolute disaster for Modern Western Catholicism. This is a damning condemnation of its failures to inspire the faithful and skeptics alike in western nations.

  27. Imrahil says:

    The list above has left out:

    July 1, Freising, Germany: Michael Engel, 39; Mario Haberl, 27; Bernhard Häglsperger, 29; Mathias Klein-Heßling, 28; Patrick Körbs, 28; Josef Rauffer, 29; Br. Thomas Väth OH, 29.

    July 1, Lindenberg for the seminary of Wigratzbad, FSSP: Roland Weiß FSSP, 30, plus six candidates from other countries.

    July 1, Zaitzkofen for the ibidem seminary, SSPX, a couple of candidates, but I do not know at present whether they are from the Region in question (I guess so).

  28. St. Louis IX says:

    Hello Father Z
    I am the Chairman for Enfield (Ct.) Una Voce chapter. This Easter 2018 we will be celebrating 10 years of The Traditional Latin Mass in Enfield Ct. We as a Latin Mass community are working with the Archdiocese of Hartford Ct to preserve and grow the Latin Mass community in Enfield Ct, during the restructuring process.

    Starting in July 2017 we will be moving to a new home at St. Adalbert Catholic Church in Enfield Ct.
    St. Adalbert`s is a Magnificent Catholic Church founded in 1915.
    We are very thankful to Pope Benedict XVI for Summorum Pontificum, and we are very grateful to Archbishop Blair for providing for our community since his installment as Archbishop.
    We are hopeful for the future, and are always solicitous for the prayers of our fellow Catholics.

    We maintain a small blog to help get information out about our community here: http://saintmarthatlm.blogspot.com/

    Father Z please feel free to drop in some time if you ever get the chance.
    Don M

  29. KateD says:

    Perhaps this is inevitably what the transition looks like between where we were and the smaller, more faithful Church we will become…?

    That sounds par for their course. And isn’t the war on the Church and marriage? Married priests represents a two-fer for Satan.

  30. Sword40 says:


    We bailed out Europe twice in the last 100 years. One big mistake we made was not dropping the A-bomb on Germany.

    I would never support saving Europe again.

    If Europe wants to be saved then they better do it themselves and get off their dead fannies.

    Sorry Fr.Z for being harsh but it’s how I feel.

  31. Pingback: MONDAY CATHOLICA EDITION | Big Pulpit

  32. JonPatrick says:

    Sword40 the bombing of Dresden, a city of minor strategic significance, resulted in 22,000 to 25,000 deaths and the destruction of 6.5 sq. km. of the city center, roughly equivalent to the destruction of Hiroshima or Nagasaki. So in a sense we did A-bomb Germany but using conventional methods. Whether it was justified or not is still a matter of controversy.

    Saving Europe via the Marshall Plan helped keep Communism from spreading which it undoubtedly would have if we had withheld help and allowed poverty and likely resulting civil unrest to reach its logical conclusion.

  33. bilop says:

    That sounds par for their course. And isn’t the war on the Church and marriage? Married priests represents a two-fer for Satan.”

    That is uncharitable and flat out wrong. There are many married priests in the Catholic Church, in Eastern, Oriental, and Latin Rites. I’m sure most of them do good work and are holy men, just like celibate priests. To say their existence is a victory for Satan is terrible.

    Whether allowing married priests more widely in the Latin Church is a good idea is open for discussion and disagreement. But, it’s certainly not Satanic.

    God Bless

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