Too Much and Too Late

News: Video Reports
by Kristine Christlieb  •  •  March 8, 2022   

St. Louis may close up to 60% of churches

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The folks in the St. Louis archdiocesan chancery have finally decided to get serious about running their business. They've even hired a consulting firm just like the big boys do. Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb gives us the executive summary.

Abp. Mitchell Rozanski: "God's blessing on you as we embark on this journey where Jesus works in us and through us to make all things new in the archdiocese of St. Louis."

The archdiocese of St. Louis is implementing a new strategic planning initiative with the theme "All Things New." About one thing everybody is in agreement: The St. Louis archdiocese is in decline. 

John Schwob, director of pastoral planning for the archdiocese, told the St. Louis Review: "This is the first time since the early 1960s that the archdiocese has reported under 500,000 Catholics."

This troubling statistic is coming from the city and archdiocese once known as the "Rome of the West." Even before the strategic planning began, the archdiocese was closing churches.

When Holy Trinity Church closed in June 2020, the archdiocese admits it lost "nearly 2,000 Catholics" who didn't register at neighboring parishes. Despite this disastrous outcome, "All Things New" plans to continue that strategy, closing up to 60% of churches.

The archdiocese also thinks it should update how it reaches out to the community.

Rozanski: "The model that fulfills its mission in growing and evangelizing the Church in the last century is now falling short in critical ways."

Some of the strategies being recommended might actually work, but there is a pervasive lack of trust in the Church's leadership.

Brice Sokolowski, nonprofit consultant: "If you're already closing 60% of your parishes and in one of those parishes you lost 2,000 people, it's going to be extremely hard to keep the trust of the people you already have because it seems like you don't have any type of solution to keep Catholics in the Church."

The changes being proposed are dramatic and perhaps necessary. But Rozanski's pivot is too much — and too late.

The archdiocese of St. Louis is not only hemorrhaging members, it's also battling new sex abuse lawsuits. Kristine will have more on that tomorrow.

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