The diocese is not the Christian unit. The parish is the Christian unit. The parish is the community. The press, at least locally, will not let that argument (and argument it is not so much as it is the fact) air. Now what is a parish, and who created it?
For where there are two or three gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.—Jesus quoted by Matthew (xviii. 20)Instead of having arguments emanating from the parish, we are fed arguments from the diocese. And the crisis here is the diocese extinguishing parishes. The public square has been set. Now the diocese is the bishop, and the one Cleveland has is the proverbial 'hard man'. The parish are the people in it. This bishop 'listens' only to the pastor of the parish, whom serves at his pleasure. The local contest between the bishop and the parish is fixed at every possible point in favor of the bishop. The bishop demands every consideration, and many people demand it for him. I have been scolded, and worse, for my presumed lack of fealty, respect, and love for the bishop; of course the bishop gets a pass.
Well, in Cleveland it is the work of one particularly mean-spirited tyrant, Richard Lennon. He has been censured by Rome, but continues to operate at his wont. But even less odious American bishops have caused immense pain, and i am only speaking on the issues of parish life, governance, and the rights of Catholics in their own local church. There are other issues and causes i am not addressing, and advocates of certain causes may overlap interest in these issues i mention, i am not advocating modernisation and reformation, but a return to justice, even radically so. Essentially i am calling for traditionalism, and that is not anything in similarity to American 'conservatism'. I am anti-clericalism.
I referred to a letter, it was from greater Pittsburgh. I will quote the relevant passage:
I believe there has been a mental and physical impact on people--many of whom are senior citizens--including my own parents and many of their friends. I am not a psychologist, but I am pretty sure many of the men I am working with are depressed. People I talk to cry quite a bit and I think it's because their support network is being taken away. This is about much more than a church closing.
One woman who is my parent's neighbor was in the E.R. two weeks ago with a racing heart beat. I realize it could be related to many things, but I know how upset she is over this situation and when I talked to her yesterday, I started thinking about how much damage I have seen. Something clicked. One senior citizen was found slumped over his steering wheel the same day he received a letter saying his church was being merged. Maybe it was a coincidence. We'll never know.
Is there any way to look at the physical and psychological damage done to people when their faith family is dismantled, their support network is removed and their routine is disrupted? The damage being done is multi-generational but the group I am working with is largely senior citizens.
We work to try to arrange social events to keep people connected, but when I think about it, we are working to do what their church used to do.No, no, no, it is not the 'church'. We are the church, it is those who have wrested power over the local church who have created this desolation. It was an elegant plea for a 'study' to examine the situation. Perhaps a committed academic may achieve national recognition of the situation. We doubt an American cleric would look.
Help for people in situations like this would sometimes typically come from a church, but in this case, it is the church unleashing the havoc.