In a brutal address to representatives of Staten Island parishes, the Rev. John O'Hara, former pastor of St. Teresa's and now archdiocesan director of strategic pastoral planning, told the assembly that the Catholic Church on Staten Island would "go down faster than the Titanic" if her parishes didn't maximize efficiencies and save money by cooperating, consolidating and closing bleeding churches. Specifics seem to be unavailable at this time. Under the Cardinal's "Making All Things New" initiative, all island churches are now grouped in six clusters based upon the criteria of demography and geography. The churches in each cluster will have to figure out how to survive.
The initiative is the brainchild of a consulting firm called The Reid Group, whose representatives were present at the aforementioned meeting. The Reid Group seems to consist of a bunch of slick lawyers and accountants who have made a great living off of the carcasses of struggling Catholic dioceses nationwide. Their modus operandi seems to be to swoop in with their experts and studies and reports and figure out how to close unprofitable parishes in the nicest and most professional way possible. The employment of such a group is a stark sign that the hierarchy of this archdiocese is hopelessly blinded by a carnal mentality that only sees the problem as one of dollars and cents, and hobbled by a defeatist spirit that can only propose retreat upon retreat as the only solution.
Even the words that greet you when you visit the website of The Reid Group are negative, depressing and hopeless in the extreme: "Change is in abundance! Pick up any newspaper or magazine today and there is a good chance that you will find a news article about change. Managing change well will not alleviate loss, but will lessen some of the pain of loss." With friends like these, who needs enemies?
There was not one word in Father O'Hara's speech or in the gloomy words of The Reid Group about the spiritual aspect to our problems. We- the Church- are suffering because we have rejected the Father, abandoned Christ and lost the Spirit. The long and short of it is that with extremely few exceptions, we- the ones who still for some reason attend Mass and superficially adhere to the Church- do not live our lives like we really believe it. If we really believed, we would not only live lives that would be an example to the world, but we would be fighting aggressively for the lost sheep of the Church. Instead, we live and think exactly like the world and we confirm the sinners in their sin with our tolerance and our silence.We are in desperate need of a revival. Who will show us the way?
Father O'Hara's Titanic metaphor was apt. This ship is going down. However, the crew of the Titanic at least tried to save the ship before it sunk; the crew at the helm of the Church have been actively punching
holes in the hull of the ship, demotivating the passengers and mindlessly twiddling their thumbs for 50 years. And now our leaders and their opportunistic consultants are spending their time and our money figuring out how to merely slow the decline and let the Church die as painlessly as possible. That is not a solution. This disaster started with the priesthood; and the reaction must begin in the priesthood. But a revival of the faith isn't going to originate with men who, in the midst of this utterly unprecedented crisis, are preoccupied with amnesty legislation or who blather syrupy platitudes or tell jokes from the pulpit week after week. This spiritual revival won't originate in men who think it's a good idea to invite a female Methodist minister to preach to a Catholic congregation, such as happened today at Blessed Sacrament. We need saints who believe, really believe with all their hearts, that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Light, and that He established the Catholic Church as His One True Church. Being animated in the spirit of the Church Militant and becoming saints is the only way this dying body of cowards, hypocrites and cultural Catholics will be resurrected. Anything less and we're left with the ice cold and degenerate social club we have today. May God send us saints, we humbly pray.