The Seattle Archdiocese is on the point of an epic, avoidable mistake. The archdiocese has launched a program known as Companions within the Gospel with the aim of making “parish households” carved out of present parishes. The archdiocese notes a lower in attendance at Mass and participation within the sacraments, a scarcity of monks and a lower in donations. To counter this, the archdiocese has sponsored “listening periods” to elucidate its plans for parish consolidation.
Though marketed as listening periods, these periods functioned extra as rationalizations of the archdiocese’s preconceived concepts and don’t handle the central challenge of the decline. What’s the cause? What duty does Archbishop Paul Etienne have on this decline? What about his management has precipitated this decline? If the Mariners do not make the playoffs, the final supervisor explains why. If Boeing misses a manufacturing deadline, the CEO explains why. The archbishop should clarify why the decline is occurring and what he plans to do to counter it.
Nowhere within the accomplice doc does the archbishop handle the explanations for the decline. Nevertheless, it isn’t tough to diagnose the issue. The Archbishop and far of the Catholic hierarchy are merely out of contact with and distrustful of the laity, making selections primarily based on an previous, outdated mannequin of church governance: The laity should pray, pay and obey. This does not minimize it anymore. This blinkered angle explains greater than anything the decline in truthful attendance.
To reverse the decline, the archdiocese wants to completely contain the laity in church and parish governance, in order that the church can have interaction with modern tradition and provides individuals a cause to return to the pews and sacraments. This have to be accomplished within the following methods:
∙ As a substitute of closing parishes, lay priest coordinators are appointed for parishes with out a priest. Former Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen (served 1975-1991) predicted a priest scarcity lengthy earlier than the present Archbishop arrived on the scene. Hunthausen skilled lay priest coordinators to take over among the parishes and thus ease the scarcity of monks. This program has languished underneath Etienne; it have to be revived and expanded.
∙ Require lay clergy councils to manipulate all parishes – no exceptions. Most pastors should not certified to do that as a result of they lack the time, abilities, expertise, and temperament.
∙ Embody Catholic ladies in management positions of actual authority and affect in all elements of Catholic ministry and life. This alone would make an enormous distinction in staffing, tradition and engagement.
Though the partnership plan does not point out closing parishes or faculties, it is easy to see it coming. Native Catholics who’ve sunk time, treasure and vitality into our parishes and faculties don’t recognize seeing it wasted, with communities disbanded and buildings offered. It makes us query the competence of the hierarchy. There isn’t a assure that the archdiocese’s plan will work; in reality, it’s going to most likely make issues worse.
My dwelling parish, Saint Anne, is an instance of that. We used to have a really workable association: a lay priest coordinator for operations, a priest to say Mass, and a lay priest council to handle the colourful, economically thriving group. As we speak we’ve a priest who has dissolved the priest’s council and arrogated management to himself and his employees. The predictable consequence: Falling attendance and falling income.
This can be a formulation for failure, nevertheless it seems to be the plan the Archbishop has chosen for the Companions within the Gospel program and past. It’s a disaster that could possibly be averted if the archbishop would reverse course and have interaction lay individuals within the employees and administration of the parishes. If he and the remainder of the American Catholic hierarchy fail to do that, they could discover the American Church consolidated again to Rome.
Nicholas O’Connell is the founding father of The Author’s Workshop and a member of the Catholic lay group Heal Our Church.