Wednesday greetings to all.
A Tale of Two Cities: A Tale of Two Dioceses
I want to begin by expressing my thanks on this blog to Bishop Amos and the priests and deacons of the Diocese of Davenport for their kindness and hospitality over the past several days. It was so uplifting to be in a diocese with such a high morale among the clergy. What a sign of hope for the people of that area of the great state of Iowa. I will talk more about my experience teaching the chants of the missal in tomorrow's post.
My sense of hope was tempered this morning when I read some news about the archdiocese in which I grew up and was reared as a Roman Catholic; the Archdiocese of Boston. Here is the clip I read this morning from America Magazine:
"After millions in sex abuse settlements and a continuing decline in Mass attendance—only 17 percent of local Catholics now attend Mass—the Boston archdiocese apparently is ready for extreme structural change. The archdiocese reports that 40 percent of Boston parishes won't be able to pay their bills this year, and that over the next ten years the number of available priests will plummet from 316 today to 178."
17 percent of Catholics attend Mass in the Archdiocese of Boston. This is astounding to me. I have tried to put into words my own sadness about this but, frankly, words are failing me. I think we have all had those moments in our lives when we contemplate leaving the active Catholic life for one reason or another. This has certainly happened to me, especially during moments of the Church's leaders' utter failures in the past, and currently, with respect to the clergy sexual abuse crisis. But each time I contemplate the possibility of leaving, I find myself echoing the words of Saint Peter from John 6:
As a result of this, many (of) his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, "Do you also want to leave?" Simon Peter answered him, "Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God."
Maybe I am naive or perhaps my faith is too simple, but I just cannot imagine what my life would be like without my active participation at Sunday Mass. I know, deep down, that I need God to keep working on me, and God works on me most poignantly at Sunday Mass. And I grieve deeply for those who, like me, could never have imagined their life without Sunday Mass, but have decided that they can now do without it. What drives good, Catholic, faithful people to come to this disastrous decision? Rather than inventing a new plan for downsizing in the Archdiocese of Boston and spending the all the money it will take to do so, why doesn't the leadership do one simple thing first: ask the tens of thousands of who have left the reasons why they left and do everything possible to bring these people back. This comes straight from my heart. I honestly believe this is a question of life and death for the Archdiocese of Boston, a place that has such a tender place in my own heart. I don't mean to be hyper-critical here, but these are my people; this is my homeland; this is my family. And it simply hurts.
Praying hard today for the Archdiocese of Boston.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.