Do y'all remember my warning—in Foreboding in Topeka—that church closings were coming soon to Wyandotte County? If you don't, then click on my sidebar, where I've indexed all the Kansas stops (so far) on my church tour, including that post.
Well, those church closings won't be coming soon. They will be coming now.
Today a letter from Archbishop Joseph Naumann was read in all Wyandotte County parishes with a bunch of blather about "reassessing" and "moving forward" (moving forward, mind you forward) to meet pastoral needs in Wyandotte County, and "wisely using our resources" or somesuch tripe.
What he was trying to say was "Hey, I'm going to be shutting down a bunch of your churches, but I'm not going to tell you which ones until we play some games and let you worry about it for a few months." That's a bad message, in substance, but the way it was presented was the worst part. The Archbishop's letter was written in such an utterly disingenuous and repulsive tone that I expected it to end "Sincerely Yours in Christ, Roger Cardinal Mahoney" or "May the blessings of the Almighty be with you, Archbishop Sean" or "Hugs and Kisses, Rembert."
It's not enough that the people of the Archdiocese have to suffer with the fruits of decades of episcopal incompetence and outright malfeasance—insufficient priests, damned-near zero nuns, dissident catechists, mediocre (or worse) schools, and silence in the face of heresy and scandal by local Catholic public figures (e.g. Sebelius). It's not enough that they have to endure the next betrayal of trust—the abandonment of parishes and churches that were built by our ancestors at great sacrifice. Before it all takes place, they must listen to the Archbishop insult their intelligence. Does the Archbishop REALLY think his flock is so stupid that they won't catch on to what is about to happen—that they won't figure out that he's going to shut their parishes down and throw their patrimony overboard, or does he REALLY think that if the flock does figure it out, it will somehow perversely see it as a positive thing?
Ahem. People of Wyandotte County: your spiritual father, the successor of the apostles who carries the special graces of a Bishop and was entrusted with a pallium by the previous Holy Father, the man who is your primary guide in matters of faith and morals…..he apparently thinks that you're a bunch of morons. He expects you to miss the fact that he's shutting you down, or to approach it with some sort of prayerful, pacifist resignation instead of a just anger.
I will get a copy of the letter and post it—without comment, and then, of course, with extensive comment—as soon as I can.
In the meantime, sound the bugle to retreat! The battle for souls in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas is being lost, or has already been lost, and well, the Archbishop and his buddies in the chancery office are just going throw in the towel in an expensive and fashionable way with lots of consultants, "listening sessions," and crocodile tears, of course. They won't redouble their efforts to evangelize and bring people back into the churches. They won't extend their "reassessment" to reconsider the sensitive "pastoral approach" of the "adult faith" of the last forty years, which has left us with a closet full of polyester rainbow vestments and felt banners, but with nothing else except empty rectories, empty convents, empty cradles, empty confessionals, empty schools, and empty Churches.
So, after they pay the professional pastoral consultants a bunch of money (undoubtedly amounting to many weeks' worth of collections for some of these parishes), they're going to shut things down. Keep in mind that organizations don't bring in consultants to build things up; they bring them in to do dirty work. Think about it: Did Bishop Miege hire an outside consultant when he arrived on the Kansas frontier? Did Bishop Hogan hire an outside consultant when he planted the Faith in western Missouri? Did Fr. DeSmet ride to the missions with a consultant? (well, come to think of it, Fr. DeSmet did have a consultant—a woman named Rose Philipine Duschene, but she was a saint, but Naumann's men ain't).
Oh, the Archbishop's consultants won't say which parishes will get axed…yet. There has to be a lot of "listening" first. So, while the "listening" is going on, take a look at my sidebar—some of the key churches in KCKS—and place your bets. Maybe we can start a pool? A little more morbid than filling out an NCAA tournament bracket perhaps, but we might as well. Anyways, whichever parishes they plan to close, we can be sure that it's not because the State of Kansas has been knocking down houses to build freeways and state employee parking lots, as in Topeka, or because the floods have decimated residential neighborhoods, as with St. Thomas down in the Argentine area, but simply because the leadership of the Archdiocese, in its bid to be "relevant" and "engaged with the world," has quite obviously made the faith irrelevant and disengaged in Wyandotte County.
More to come!
PS, a clarification for my out-of-town friends: Yes, I was just talking positively about the Bishop a few days ago, and no, I'm not being fickle—I was talking up Bishop Finn in Missouri. Archbishop Naumann is on the Kansas side—recall that the state line, and therefore the diocesan and provincial line, runs right down the middle of the greater Kansas City area, and jurisdiction is split between Abp. Naumann in Kansas and Bp. Finn in Missouri, two new bishops from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with…clearly now…the people of Missouri having the better part of the bargain).