There has been a lot of local television and radio air time dedicated to Archdiocese of Boston announcement that six closed parish churches are to be sold, after all sacred items have been removed. Some of these closed churches have been occupied by the former parishioners since their initial closing. And all the former members of the closed parishes are promising to fight the proposed sales, and are appealing to the Vatican. They are taking encouragement from the fact that the Vatican had, in at least one case, overturned a bishop’s decision to sell a closed church.
My heart goes out to these people; my own parish was threatened with closure. It was averted only because we made a strong case for keeping it open. But I also realize that times are changing, just recently a report was issued, showing that soon there will not be enough priests to service all the existing parishes. That there will be fewer, bigger parishes, or, as the Archdiocese is exploring, a cluster of churches under one pastor and staff.
There is no question that the past closure of parishes in the Archdiocese was poorly planned and executed. Any future “reconfiguration,” must be based on a clear set of criteria, the process must be open and transparent, with public input from the laity.
The sad truth is that some parishes will have to be merged or merged for the health of the Catholic community of greater Boston. And there is nothing in the short term that can be done to avert that reality.