House Church Talk - shutting the doors in Boston

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Wed May 26 13:47:25 EDT 2004

       Boston Archdiocese to Shut 60 Churches, O'Malley Says (Update3) 

May 25 (Bloomberg) -- Boston's Roman Catholic archdiocese will close 60 
churches in eastern Massachusetts over the next four months and reduce 
the number of its parishes from 357 to 292, the most extensive cutbacks 
in the U.S. in at least three decades, Archbishop Sean O'Malley said. 

The cuts announced today don't include at least 10 parishes targeted for 
closure last year in the cities of Lawrence and Lowell, an archdiocesan 
statement said. When added to other previous and announced closings, the 
Boston area will have lost 122 parishes since 1985, surpassing the 78 
Chicago eliminated from 1975 to 1995. 


The cuts, driven by financial needs and a priest shortage, reflect a 
shift in the Catholic church in the U.S. Northeast and Midwest from 
serving mostly large families in urban areas to a more suburban, 
gentrified version of itself, said Bernard F. Swain, a management 
consultant who worked with eight groups of Boston-area parishes during 
the closing process. 

"The suburbanization of Catholicism is a major feature of recent American 
Catholicism, as it was a feature of Protestantism a couple of generations 
before," Swain said. 


Swain said Boston's archdiocese, which has 2.1 million members, was 
probably overbuilt in 19th and 20th centuries. 

O'Malley said one-third of the parishes are running deficits and many 
more need repairs. In Boston, the bill to fix the facilities would be 
$100 million, and the archdiocese doesn't have cost estimates for the 
rest of the churches in the five eastern Massachusetts counties with 144 
communities that it serves.

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