Death of a Diocese?

News: Video Reports
by Nadia Bullock  •  •  October 15, 2022   

Scandals and fewer Mass goers drain resources

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The diocese of Columbus, Ohio, could soon absorb the neighboring diocese of Steubenville, due to declining numbers and financial problems.

Church Militant's Nadia Bullock discusses the endangered diocese. 

Bp. Jeffrey Monforton, diocese of Steubenville, OH: "It feels like a hole in my soul — put it that way."

Earlier this week, Bp. Monforton of Steubenville announced a merger is underway with the diocese of Columbus.

There has been a 45% decline in Mass goers from 1990 to 2019, with fewer than 30,000 Catholics in the Steubenville diocese.

There are only 36 active priests, half are age 60 or older, and just five seminarians.

Monforton told Crux if "our numbers keep declining to a point of 10 years from now, can we even exist?"

Steubenville was hit by two financial scandals in 2020.

The first — a former employee was caught embezzling $300,000 and failed to hand in payroll taxes.

This cost the diocese "more than $900,000 in interest and penalties, in addition to its $2.8 million debt to the IRS."

Secondly, a priest stole more than $300,000 to pay for a luxurious lifestyle, including flying lessons.

The benefits of the merger, Monforton believes, are "more resources, more personnel. It's able to absorb the impacts of the economic downturn much more than us."

He's sending a survey to parishioners to give them a "chance to vent." And that will be discussed and voted on in November at the USCCB general assembly.

Monforton: "All that information will go to the Holy See. ... Then the decision will be made by Pope Francis."

Columbus Bp. Earl Fernandes is considered one of the decent bishops, previously speaking out on ordaining gay men as priests.

Steubenville falling under his domain could possibly be a positive. 

Franciscan University of Steubenville is well-known nationwide for being authentically Catholic, and hosting youth conferences in the summer months.

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