PITTSBURGH (ChurchMilitant.com) - A panel of advisors is helping the diocese of Pittsburgh facilitate a potential 75 percent shrinkage in the number of parishes.
The panel "On Mission Commission" is giving advice to Bp. David Zubik of Pittsburgh on how to manage the declining number of practicing Catholics. The commission's final September 7 report recommends gathering the diocese's 188 parishes into 48 parish groupings — a decline of nearly 75 percent.
According to the online post, each parish grouping "is a collection of individual parishes in a common geographic area proposed to become one new parish over time."
The parish groupings policy does not immediately involve closing or merging any parishes. Instead, the policy is meant to facilitate future parish mergers.
Church Militant has been sounding alarms for years now about the impending collapse of the Catholic Church in the West. In January, we produced a Vortex titled "Catholic Counting," which indicated that the Church's numbers would be hemorrhaged in the near future. An April Vortex, "Ten Years to Go and ...," used statistics to show that the Church in America is sitting on a ticking time bomb.
Over the next few months, Bp. Zubik is set to discuss the plans "with his priest council" and "with the diocesan pastoral and finance councils." He will arrive at a final decision in December, and the parish groupings "will take effect in fall 2018," the website states.
The only parish guaranteed to remain unaffected is St. Katharine Drexel in Washington County, which was established on January 8 as a merging of five parishes.
The On Mission Commission is part of the "On Mission for the Church Alive!" initiative — a name some consider ironic, given that it is overseeing plans for handling the near-death of the Faith.
The Commission's stated purpose is to advise the bishop on "how parishes and schools can best deliver vibrant sacramental celebration, effective formation for discipleship and compassionate pastoral care in the context of changing circumstances, including demographics, financial conditions and the projected number of priests."
When the diocese's Facebook page shared the On Mission Commission's proposal, there was some backlash in the comments with faithful Catholics noting disastrous catechesis and the utter lack of liturgical reverence.
From 1988–2006, the diocese of Pittsburgh was headed by Donald Wuerl, now cardinal and archbishop of Washington, D.C. In January, Wuerl advised seminarians to respect personal conscience rather than the law of the Church regarding Holy Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried.
In 2015, Church Militant covered Cdl. Wuerl's open disobedience of canon 915 in the Code of Canon Law, which states that politicians who openly oppose the Church's moral teachings should be denied Holy Communion. We also released a Vortex in 2015 listing the cardinal's various efforts to normalize the reception of Holy Communion by public, unrepentant grave sinners.