Dolan: Up To 14 Percent, Or 50 Churches, Could Be Affected


Updated Oct 30, 2014

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Parishioners are going to have to find new places to worship with the word of dozens of Catholic churches closing.

The New York Archdiocese on said it will soon announce which parishes in the Lower Hudson Valley will merge or close.

A decision is expected next week as part of a restructuring plan, officials told CBS2.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan told the Catholic New York Newspaper Wednesday night that 14 percent, or as many as 50 churches, could be impacted.

Dolan said this really comes down to the numbers, CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported. Right now, New York State has 368 parishes.

With this consolidation, the church expects about 50 churches in New York could be impacted.

“For one, at 368, we simply have too many parishes, in areas that used to have huge Catholic numbers, where most of the people have since moved away. On Manhattan alone, for instance, we have 88 parishes, some only blocks apart,” he wrote. “Do the math: we have about 25 percent of our parishes in an area where less than 12 percent of the 2.8 million Catholics of the archdiocese reside.”

Cardinal Dolan issued a column about the impending closures late Wednesday night. He said the archdiocese has been planning for the closures for the past five years, and anticipated that many will grieve the closures.

“In a few places, there might even be a feeling that something has died,” Dolan said. “Perhaps the feast days this Saturday and Sunday can set a spiritual tone for what will be, undeniably, a tough time for us all, especially for the parishioners of the affected parishes. Saturday, November 1, is the feast of All Saints (or, the old term, ‘All Hallows,’ thus ‘Halloween,’ the eve before), as we gratefully recall the citizens of our eternal home, heaven.”

Dolan said that he would rather see parishes added or expanded – as some, in fact, will be. But circumstances necessitate the closures and mergers, he added.

Further, merging parishes will make better use of financial resources, Dolan said.

“What we’re talking about is realism. Families do it, our schools have done it, corporations do it—now our parishes must do it: we merge in the areas where the population has shrunk, and build and expand—both plants and ministries—in areas where the Catholic numbers are bustling.”

“Some of our people will be sad, upset, critical, and even angry. Very understandable…loyal Catholic people love their parishes, and consider them their spiritual home. To see them changed or merged, even with next door parishes, will be very difficult.”

In 2007, 21 parishes closed or merged. Last year, schools were reorganized.

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