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In addition to pillaging cemetery funds to pay off more than $200 million in sex abuse payouts, the archbishop of Chicago is also shuttering parishes under the spiritual guise of his Renew My Church campaign.
The project, nicknamed "Ruin My Church" for its ruthless manner of closing and merging parishes, is given a spiritual veneer by Chicago's Cdl. Blase Cupich. As early as 2017, the cardinal wanted Catholics to look at the parish closings "through the lens of the sacraments of initiation."
In an interview in August of that year, the cardinal said he didn't want Catholics to look at it as merely an "organizational reorganization." Cupich went on to draw parallels between the parish closing campaign and the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist.
"For instance in baptism," explained Cupich, "it is an opportunity for us to die to ourselves. And Renew My Church does have each one of us take a look at our own personal responsibility for passing on the Faith."
Catholic immigrants, who built many of the 350 active parishes in the archdiocese, saw their personal responsibility in passing on the Faith bound up in building their churches. Their descendants see their personal responsibility tied into keeping these parishes open.
Chicago has estimated that by 2030, there will be 240 priests serving 350 parishes in the archdiocese. The archdiocese is emphasizing this point while avoiding the topic of having to borrow $200 million to cover its financial obligations owing to clerical sex abuse. Faithful Catholics see a true renewal of the Church bound up in ramping up vocations to the priesthood instead of closing churches.
Instead of fostering vocations to the priesthood, Cupich decided in January to shutter Chicago's St. Joseph Seminary. The advisory board lamented the heavy-handedness with which the seminary was closed, calling the cardinal's decision "unexpected and disturbing," adding, "Naturally, as a Board, we expected more from you than just an 11-minute announcement with no advance warning or dialogue."
Watch the panel discuss Cdl. Cupich's pillaging of Church patrimony to pay for sex abuse in The Download—Stealing From the Dead.