Culling Clerics

News: Video Reports
by Kristine Christlieb  •  •  May 14, 2022   

Next step in reorg process

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Dioceses across the country are taking a look in their mirrors and seeing the impact of chronic corruption over time — in the form of empty pews. Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb looks at three dioceses trying to stop the bleeding.

Fr. Bryan Zielenieski, vicar for renewal and development, diocese of Buffalo, New York: "We're going with the flow. So we're trying to make sure we respond to the needs of parishes."

The diocese of Buffalo, New York, announced on Tuesday its 161 priests are being invited to apply, by May 23, for 36 open pastor slots. It is the next step in the diocese's reorganization process called, "The Road to Renewal."

According to the Buffalo News, "The diocese may be in a position of having to ask priests to resign their pastorates so other priests assigned as pastors of a family of parishes may take the helm." Buffalo isn't the only diocese facing these changes. The archdioceses of St. Louis and Detroit are navigating similar waters.

Fr. Christopher Martin, vicar for strategic planning, archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri: "We love our Faith. And we love the Catholic Church in St. Louis, the presence of the Catholic Church. But we also realize we need to have a new mode of communicating the Faith in St. Louis."

On top of the misery of downsizing, these dioceses have in common a consulting relationship with Catholic Leadership Institute. The Pennsylvania non-profit boasts it has "transformed lives of so many bishops, priests, lay leaders, seminarians and parishes, and we are blessed to walk alongside Church leaders into the next generation of our Church."

The CLI was founded in the 1990s by a Mass Mutual insurance salesman. The organization's "one idea" that "transforms many" appears to be advising dioceses to dramatically downsize. In Buffalo, St. Louis and Detroit, CLI's fingerprints are all over the so-called renewal process.

Common elements include creation of a unique brand for the renewal process. The branding strategy includes listening sessions, a discipleship survey, addition of new staff to manage the reorganization activities and a dedicated website. Bishops' adoption of this corporate reorganization approach makes sense for administrators, but not for shepherds.

Church Militant will be providing more reporting on the Catholic Leadership Institute and how it is reshaping the American Catholic Church.

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