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Bishops around the United States are continuing to consolidate and reshape their dioceses. In tonight's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Nick Wylie discusses what may be the real reason prelates are shaking things up.
Abp. Paul Etienne, archdiocese of Seattle, Wash.: "It's very easy for us to just continue to keep doing the same thing and hoping that things will improve. It's very clear the status quo is no longer an option."
The archdiocese of Seattle is announcing its new "Partners in the Gospel" consolidation initiative.
The plan will transform the archdiocese from individual parishes to clusters of parishes called "families."
Jay McNally, journalist: "It is essentially about the devastating collapse of the Catholic Church, the loss of families who are willing to stick with the Church and a lot of families being chased out for many different reasons, including terrible teaching that they see everywhere, but also because of the sex abuse crisis."
The lack of priests and declining Mass attendance are certainly catalysts for making changes. But some are suspecting ulterior motives.
Similar restructuring programs have been tried in other dioceses, like Lansing, Michigan, which attempted to strip pastors of their rights and place power in the hands of a select few.
Jay McNally, journalist: "When it came time for them to sign on the dotted line and say, 'Yes, we are going with this program. We will be the effectively neutered pastor' — a priest without the former responsibility as pastor and will answer to the moderator — most of them balked."
The archdiocese of Detroit's "Families of Parishes" plan was another attempted power grab by a bishop.
Christine Niles, Special Report: Detroit Money Grab:
What the archdiocese won't reveal publicly is the brewing rebellion in the ranks of its clergy, outraged at a scheme they say throws them under the bus, stripping them of their rights as pastors, while the archbishop gains control. At least 16 Detroit priests have filed complaints with Rome fighting this restructuring plan.
A priest whose diocese has gone through a similar process told Church Militant, "Bishops are using 'obedience' as a tool to intimidate and corrupt their priests. They don't want to serve — they want to rule and bully their priests into submission."
Abp. Etienne: "From the very beginning of the Church, Jesus Christ invited his apostles to go into the world and to proclaim the good news."
The answer to the crisis in the Church is for prelates to preach the truth and expel gay and modernist clergy, not "consolidating resources" and mistreating good priests.
Seattle's archdiocese plans to announce its final "parish family structures" early next year, which will go into effect in July 2024.