Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The letters to the editors in these parts often contain words from a disgruntled Catholic complaining about of their shock concerning what is happening to their parish. (Cleveland is going through some parish downsizing.) There are a few incidences in which I understand why this is the case but for the majority this is not a surprising event. The process for closing parishes has been going on for years. Every parish was supposed to have a committee of parishioners that were intimately involved with the process and they along with the pastor were to keep members of each parish involved and informed. Apart from some specific cases this situation should not have occurred.

There are a couple of possibilities. One is that the parishioner did not pay attention, did not attend Mass, did not read the bulletin, did not listen to announcements, did not come to meetings, or really attends another parish and only occasionally their “home” parish and therefore was oblivious to these cataclysmic events at their parish. The other is that the parish priest or the committee did not take their mandate seriously enough to pass on the information about what was happening. In either even the bishop is blamed for the surprise attack.

It is also the case (I am equally to blame in not getting the news out) that a person will hear of something going on in the world and say, “Why haven’t the bishops spoken out on this! Why is the pope silent?!” This is often far from the case. Suppose the bishops (who put out copious amounts of statements and documents) or the pope does say something, how are we to hear about it? Quite often when the paper does report that Pope Benedict said something they tell of some obscure passing line of a much greater statement because it makes for great headlines. Or if the bishop should say something how is it get to the people? The newspaper? I think not. Send letters to everyone? That is called the diocesan newspaper and how many people have subscription to it and read it?

Priests should perhaps be better about spreading the word. But lay people too should mine for this information. The Vatican has a website (and a newspaper) as do most dioceses. Be informed! Know what the Church is saying! Search out these sources for important topics and know that the Church does indeed speak.

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