Monday, June 02, 2014

Frank talk from archbishop of Detroit: "We are a shrinking community"

Patricia Montemurri, "Catholic archbishop on Detroit diocese: 'We are a shrinking community'" (Detroit Free Press, May 28, 2014):
In just 13 years, there has been a 50% drop in the number of Catholic baptisms and marriages performed in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Archbishop Allen Vigneron revealed Wednesday.

... In 2001, about 24,000 people partook of Catholic sacraments such as baptism and marriage rites in the Detroit archdiocese, compared with 11,689 last year.

... Vigneron said he had to “think of myself like Alan Mulally,” who became Ford CEO in 2006 and was charged with turning around the Dearborn automaker during profound contraction in the domestic auto industry.

“I have to change the culture of our operation ... as he changed the culture of his operation,” said Vigneron.

The survey results, said Vigneron, show ways for Catholic parishes and pastors to bolster those numbers. Parishes and pastors need to work on reaching out to inactive and non-Catholics and to do more for youths and young adult Catholics, respondents said.
Everything hinges on the diagnosis of the problem. We give thanks for the clarity with which the problem of the shrinking Catholic community has been identified, and we promise our prayers for God's guidance of the Archbishop and fellow bishops as they seek to formulate their diagnosis and prescribe the cure.

Some readers may remember our own earlier discussions of the issue of "Catholic culture." Sometimes we hear "cultural Catholics" rightly derided for having no personal faith. We even hear them called "sacramentalized pagans." There is some truth to this. At the same time, we believe it would be a huge loss to turn our backs on the rich legacy of Catholic culture with which the Church has gifted us over previous generations. This legacy is in many respects nothing less than a gift of the Holy Spirit enfleshed in human culture. Thus, when we hear the Archbishop declare that the "culture" is the problem, and the "culture" must be changed, we are heartened, if this means razing the bastions of the ebulliently self-indulgent, antinomian culture of the 1960s that has imbued the western Church over the last half-century. It's time to wake up, as they say, and smell the coffee, and get down to the business of living The Faith in earnest, come what may. Pope Benedict XVI predicted that the Church of tomorrow would be radically diminished in size and likely face persecution. Let us prepare ourselves to be unabashedly Catholic, to say what we mean and mean what we say, and to be faithful custodians of the legacy entrusted to us by our Catholic forefathers.


Ralph Roister-Doister said...

No no no. Calm down.

When an archbishop or cardinal talks this way, it does not mean that he is about to pull the trigger on the Great Renewal and return us all to neo-traditionalism, if one can even imagine such a thing. Vigneron may fancy himself a CEO, but CEO Bergoglio might have other ideas. Vigneron is actually a middle manager, and middle managers who do not tow the corporate line find their butts skidding across the sidewalk outside the corporate revolving door before they can proclaim the current pope a candidate for canonization.

So whatever this middle manager apparatchik may say, the bottom line is that he is going to take his lead from the Big Guy in Rome, like all of the other middle manager apparatchiks.
The Big Guy may want to trend toward a synodocracy, but that does not mean that bishops will actually be allowed to think for themselves, and Vigneron is probably not inclined to do so anyway.

Netmilsmom said...

The ONE area growing in the Detroit Archdiocese is the Catholics who call themselves "traditional Catholics". Grotto is one example. Sacred Heart in Imlay City is another. Maybe the real "frank talk" should come in "Why are Catholics leaving modern churches but traditional parishes hold and grow?"
Wouldn't that be a good question?

Rick DeLano said...

Archbishop Vigneron, Michael Voris isn't shrinking.

Perhaps the turnaround specialist you need is right at hand.

Your predecessor has failed, Archbishop, and the theology and ecclesiology which He imbibed has failed, and you must change it. If you wish to begin by forgetting the corporate turnaround analogies that would be a wonderful first step.

God deliver us from the disorienting effects of the modernism we have breathed in like air for almost two generations now.

Rick DeLano said...

Thank God the comments are moderated, since the system gives one absolutely no way to determine whether one has successfully been posted.

Brian C said...

Finally, a light in the darkness! The Dominican Sisters are assuming control of a school in AOD - St. Isaac Jogues in St Clair Shores. See link:
It will take generations to rebuild the Church in Detroit. The best place to start is with the young.

Pertinacious Papist said...


That's excellent news about the Dominican Sisters assuming control of the school at St. Isaac Jogues! They're a great surge of positive energy and orthodoxy these days.