The Archdiocese of Detroit is in a world of hurt — a world that has been revealed by the Wuhan virus.
Detroit is not unlike many other dioceses in the United States. Many, perhaps even most, have been nothing more than paper tigers for decades. Detroit and the rest have been getting by on the fumes of past robust faith, but when that all started to decline beginning in the 1960s–70s, the handwriting was on the wall.
From one inept bishop to another, concerned about everything other than job one, which is the salvation of souls, the decline began slowly and then picked up steam in the past 20 years. And then, The Wuhan struck and that has pushed the Detroit archdiocese and various others over the edge.
This coming Sunday — Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church — Detroit's archbishop will essentially announce the death knell of the Church in this archdiocese. Last week he held another private call with his clergy, a recording of which was provided to us from sources privy to the call.
He announced, in essence, the cupboard is bare:
We have now moved into this time of great uncertainty. It's clear that we have fewer resources. Certainly the financial resources we might have counted upon are greatly in jeopardy. And as we knew, there was going to be a continuing decrease in the priests available to lead in the missionary project. That itself has been accelerating because our priests are more vulnerable, and those who are my age and even a little younger are in dangerous, in jeopardy, vulnerable, and so it isn't clear the resources we are going to have for unleashing the gospel.
Here's a little background for you on Detroit: Ever since its slow decline began roughly 40 years ago, parishes have been steadily reduced, paired together in a move they call "clustering." In short, two or three current parishes each lose their individual identity and are "clustered" into a new one with a whole new parish name. So for example, St. Joseph's, St. Mary's and St. Isadore's, in somewhat close geographical proximity, stop being those three individual parishes with their own pastors and now cluster together to make the all-new St. John's. One of the former parishes becomes the building for the new parish and the other two are eventually closed off and sold.
Lots of dioceses do this. But here in Michigan, after three rounds of this in past decades, Abp. Allen Vigneron's hand has been forced by the financial hit from the Wuhan flu:
Over the next two years, our parishes will join other parishes in a new grouping, groupings called families of parishes. Families of parishes are groups of parishes, generally six to three sharing resources, but more important, of course, human resources — but also material resources in order to advance the mission of unleashing the gospel.
What this means is that the number of parishes in this archdiocese is about to plummet. That will be Vigneron's legacy when he is gone in three years — a massive contraction. But the further issue is now that three to six parishes that were already "clustered" are going to be clustered again. And the priests who used to be pastors are not going to be pastors anymore — something that's causing a mutiny of sorts to break out among them.
Over the next six months, various committees will form, led by liberals, who will decide which parishes and pastors will get the axe and which ones will be anointed the new leaders of the greatly reduced archdiocese. On the committee deciding who will be the pastors left standing will be a linchpin of all things deformed in the archdiocese — Msgr. John Zenz, a leading liberal if there ever was one. He's a leftover from the halcyon days of homopredator sex abuse cover-up and the theological looting of the seminary.
Many folks were shocked that Vigneron left him in place when the archbishop returned to Detroit going on 12 years ago, so horrid was his reputation. Zenz was the power behind the throne of an essentially absentee former archbishop, Adam Maida, who nearly bankrupted the diocese and raided the priests' pension fund to keep out of court. Zenz was a large factor in all that and used the financial crisis as an opportunity to cement his authority over every priest in the archdiocese — as vicar general and moderator of the Curia, along with other positions.
He was a major contributor, for decades, in driving this archdiocese into the dirt, and now in his declining years, he'll be throwing the first spade of dirt into its grave. His longing to be a bishop — well known with priests throughout Detroit — was his North Star, and he made all his decisions, including the destruction of Detroit, to be at the service of that ambition.
Vigneron knew all this about Zenz and has kept him in place as trusted advisor. While his wings were somewhat clipped, it was nowhere near to the degree good priests here would have wanted the weak Vigneron to do. Vigneron and his chancery crew were so intent that Church Militant not get word of all this advance that they changed the protocols and enhanced the security of the conference call specifically to make sure we did not. It didn't work, as you can hear for yourself.
So why all the secrecy? Why the concern about leaks? Because a shrinking of an archdiocese on this scale is approaching historic levels — monumental, in fact. In 1990, just 30 years ago, this archdiocese had almost 400 parishes. Today it's about 200 parishes. And when the Vigneron axe is done swinging, that number may be as low as 70 parishes or even fewer.
In the call, Vigneron tried to paint this all as the work of the Holy Spirit, comparing the unexpected downturn to St. Paul's shipwrecking at Malta. He's right on the shipwrecking part, but the work of the bit about this all being the work of the Holy Spirit, not so much. The archbishop has deluded himself into thinking and saying this, but it's not true, at least not the way he is thinking.
For decades, into the current generation under Vigneron, this archdiocese has been a cesspool of scandal and promotion of homosexuality, promotion of every leftist cause in the Church, and Vigneron has left all the players in place. Six years ago, Vigneron called for an archdiocese-wide synod to address the decline of the Church here in Motown.
After two years of Church-of-Nice gobbledygook and stacked decks of listening sessions, he produced a marketing plan called "Unleash the Gospel," which was immediately mocked and ridiculed for its shallow and short-sighted attempt to rescue Detroit.
Yet, even to this day, like Hitler in the bunker in 1945, still thinking he has a way out of this, he continues to insist "It's all good, the Holy Spirit is behind it all." As we said, that's probably true, but not the way he's saying.
So, he didn't want word getting out in advance because, probably down deep, he knows the truth and knows that people will know the truth. So in the cathedral this Sunday, Pentecost, he will paint the rosiest picture he can of a dreadful situation, portraying it as going into the tomb with the resurrection guaranteed. Except it's not. This archdiocese betrayed Christ and His Church for decades.
Even with his own "Unleash the Gospel" resurrection plan, he betrayed that and turned it into a $200 million-dollar fundraising effort, which fell flat on its face. He continues to allow the all-out assault by lying priests who stand at his right hand against Fr. Eduard Perrone — a man they lied about to media all over the world. Actively gay men, along with their sympathizers, are still pastors here with Vigneron's knowledge.
Odds are with men like Zenz setting the stage, its a safe bet that the gay cabal will be the ones who remain the pastors — in charge of former pastors and taking over the Masses at the new cluster arrangement, comically called "families of parishes." These guys can never deal in just straight-up terms. There's always some Madison Avenue ad-speak they apply to deceive people.
Here’s what Vigneron will not say on Pentecost:
I and my predecessors failed you and betrayed you. We tried to get along with the world and keep holding on to the Faith at the same time — to have our cake and eat it too. It didn't work and the world won. We did not teach the Faith, but a manufactured, watered-down version of it that was politically correct, would never give offense and would let you keep using contraception so as not to upset you.
Sidestepping the elephants in the living room, I appointed pastors over you more interested in their boyfriends than your eternal salvation. And now we are paying the price. The archdiocese on my watch is being moved from the ICU to critical care. Shortly, all life support will be withdrawn and there will be just a few parishes left. Organizing the funeral will be what I spend the last three years of my time with you doing. God bless you.
When Vigneron came here, he inherited hundreds of parishes. When he leaves here, his successor will inherit a few dozen. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what happens every time the Faith is buried and shoved aside by a shepherd.
Expect much more consolidation across the country in the coming months.