The fabled NY archdiocese is about to shrink

The New York archdiocese is on the verge of disclosing which of its 368 parishes will be closed or merged, after a lengthy review that started 2010. The changes were supposed be announced in September, but since the cardinal was going to be in Rome for most of October attending the synod on the family, the archdiocese pushed back the timing of the announcement.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan is well aware of the negative blowback he and the chancery will be experiencing. At the same time, the problems in this archdiocese have taken years to develop and the cold reality could not be ignored any longer.

The New York Times story today states:

While the archdiocese has not revealed exactly how many of its 368 parishes will be eliminated, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan , the archbishop of New York, said in his column in Catholic New York on Thursday that about 14 percent — more than 50 — of the archdiocese’s parishes would be merged with others. Pastors of the affected parishes are to be notified of the final decisions on Friday and parishioners told on Sunday, according to information shared with church leaders.

“Some of our people will be sad, upset, critical, and even angry,” Dolan wrote in his Thursday column. “Very understandable ... loyal Catholic people love their parishes, and consider them their spiritual home.”

The driving factors behind New York’s consolidations remain stubbornly the same as in 2007. Among them, a shrinking number of priests, financial pressures and a declining number of Catholics being baptized and married in the church. The Brooklyn diocese, which includes Queens, faced similar challenges and undertook a similar process, reducing its total number of parishes to 187 today from 199 in 2009.

“We don’t have the finances to annually give $40 million to support unneeded parishes,” Dolan wrote on his blog last year.

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