Aug 22, 2006

Boston, Creating the Vacuum

Since the late July simulation of priestly ordination of a woman department head in the Boston Archdiocese, I've been perusing the latest news about Boston under Cardinal O'Malley. According to Carol McKinley, a four-year blogger who posts daily items about the devilment going on in Boston, there is little good happening in Boston. Catholic Charities has defended adoptions by homosexuals, priests are leaving for sabbaticals and women, parish collections are falling, people are leaving the active practice of Catholicism, etc.

Financially, the Boston newspaper says the Archdiocese of Boston 'claims' [notice the paper doesn't use the word 'has'] nearly 2 million Catholics in 144 communities. In some ways, the Archdiocese still appears to be rich in a materialistic sense, with over 1,500 buildings in Eastern Massachusetts--estimated replacement value of $2.8 billion. It employs 3,000 people and oversees hundreds of parishes, schools, cemeteries, hospitals, and social service organizations.

While the archdiocese and its parishes have $330 million in assets, officials say financial restrictions and debt total $376 million, resulting in a $46 million gap--a big chunk of change. Despite having laid off dozens of employees, the archdiocese is also running an annual operating deficit, and it faces serious ongoing problems from diminished attendance at Masses, decreased school enrollment, a shortage of priests and nuns, massive maintenance costs for old buildings, etc.

The financial statement from the Archdiocese of Boston shows depletion of assets by selling old church properties. Even though fundraising costs increased 16% from $1.9M to $2.2M in 2005, revenues decreased 6% from $31.6 to $29.6.

Is Boston a bellweather of future diocesan problems through the U.S.? Like California is the bellwether of social problems carried by westerly winds across the rest of the country? Or will prevailing westerlies mostly carry the religious problems of Boston out to sea to drown in the abyss (or maybe carried to Ireland).

Regardless, a vacuum is being created in Boston--of priests, money, Catholicism, etc.--a vacuum that will subsequently be filled one way or another, either with bad or with good.


M. Alexander said...

And in an example of the short sightedness of the diocesan officials the Fraternity of St. Peter and the Institute of Christ the King have been banned from the Diocese. Both have offered to take over Holy Trinity, a beautiful Church where the Latin Mass is said but the Church would rather close it down and sell it. Prime real estate you know.

Dust I Am said...

Mary, I'll ask you a similar question I asked Radical Catholic Mom. How close is the church in Boston to apostasy? Or do you believe this is too severe a term to describe the archdiocesan bureaucracy?