Church Militant has been on the front lines, reporting on the managed decline of Catholic parishes across North America.
In today's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb continues her investigation of the Philadelphia organization quietly masterminding the collapse.
St. Louis Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski wrote an article last week addressing rumors his plan to close St. Louis parishes was a cookie-cutter version of what happened in Pittsburgh: "Pittsburgh's plan was Pittsburgh's plan, and our plan will be our own. The Catholic Leadership Institute is here to help us fashion our vision and plan, not the other way around."
While there may be differences in some details, Catholic Leadership Institute, or "CLI," is pushing out downsizing campaigns and, now, Synodal Way discussions, designed to give Catholics the impression their dioceses care about their opinions.
If the church closings in Rozanski's former Springfield, Massachusetts, diocese are any indication, there won't be much listening going on.
A relatively small non-profit organization with less than $10 million in annual revenue, CLI is oversized in its influence.
It has not one but three boards — a 16-member board of directors, a national advisory board and a 13-member episcopal advisory board composed of two cardinals, four archbishops and seven bishops.
Such an organizational structure allows for the involvement of wealthy donors and clerics, similar to how the Papal Foundation is organized.
These 29 individuals, plus the CLI staff, are engineering the closure of hundreds of churches — from the archdioceses of Vancouver to Miami.
And now, this same organization is ushering in "Synod 2021–2023: For a Synodal Church."
Springfield diocese bishop Thomas Paprocki: "The plan is for a series of regional, national and international meetings that will lead up to the 16th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2023, whose theme is 'For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.'"
Catholic Leadership Institute has a plan for closing churches, but has it a plan for ensuring souls aren't lost in the transition?