Now don’t be shocked but it seems that people who don’t listen to bishops also believe bishops and priests are kinda’ unnecessary. Who’d a thunk it?
Here’s the lede from Boston.com:
Maryellen and Jon Rogers think they’ve seen the future of the Catholic Church: lay-led parishes. That is, parishes run by parishioners – except for the sacraments, which would still be led by a priest, of course.
You just know there’s a backstory here, right?
You might ask what makes the couple experts on the subject. It’s because for five years, their church – St. Frances X. Cabrini in Scituate – has been lay-led. It’s not by choice: St. Frances was padlocked by the Archdiocese of Boston five years ago. But for a back door left unlocked by chance, it would have been shut down.
Parishioners have occupied the picturesque church 24/7 ever since. At their five-year anniversary last Monday, that totaled 1,826 days.
All this time, St. Frances has been in a standoff with the archdiocese. The parishioners won’t leave their beloved church that they say they built in 1961, raising money and, in some cases, helping raise the roof. The archdiocese has said that its reconfiguration plan calls for the church to be shuttered, like the dozens of others it has closed due to dwindling attendance, funds, and priests. The pastoral needs of the flock can be met at St. Mary’s in Scituate, the archdiocese believes….
St. Frances vigilers say they understand the acute shortage of priests and funds, pointing to one priest who is covering three churches in Dorchester. “They need help, and we want to help,’’ says Maryellen Rogers. How? By letting the laity run the church: its buildings, finances, day-to-day operations, religious education, social action programs, even some religious services.
“The priest can show up for the sacraments, for weddings, baptisms, and funerals,’’ says Jon. “And let us focus on the jobs we do best.’’ For Communion at St. Frances, sympathetic priests have provided consecrated hosts.
The truth is, Catholic churches throughout the country are in financial free-fall, reeling from large settlements to victims of priest sexual abuse. At the same time – and partly for the same reason – church attendance and collections have dropped. Ditto for the number of priests, a graying population with fewer young men seeking the vocation.
The idea of lay-led parishes remains controversial, though under canon law it is allowed as a temporary measure in certain cases. “Why not make St. Frances this type of church and a prototype for the future?’’ asks Maryellen. “We have proven ourselves over the past five years.’’
Yes they’re quite the organized bunch but it takes a little more than that to be entrusted with running a parish, don’t you think? This group has already proven that they won’t listen to their bishops. They won’t listen to the Vatican. They’re in a legal standoff with the archdiocese. They talk the Church down in the media every chance they get. So why, I ask, then would the bishops trust them more when they’ve proven they aren’t to be trusted?
The Church already has plenty o’ disobedience. We’re all stocked up.