Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk will meet with church leaders in June to discuss ways of dealing with a severe shortage of priests. His thoughts today:
The Enquirer: Will you close any parishes?
Pilarczyk: "If a parish gets 50 people on Sunday, it's probably not going to have a full-time priest and not have a part-time priest. It's probably not going to be around....
"If the parish is not ministerially complete and financially self-sufficient, sooner or later, it's going to get closed. Ministerially complete means you have worship, you have education, you have outreach, planning and administration....
"If all you do is have Mass on Sundays, that's not really a ministerially complete parish. And those parishes are being closed. Parishes that are too small to support a priest are being closed."
What ministries might be affected by the priest shortage?
"Marriage instruction ... the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, liturgy planning, catechesis - it's all done by lay people.... Deacons preside at weddings, baptisms. They teach, they preach. That's all going on already.
"There's a new liturgical rite, called Sunday Service in the Absence of a Priest, a Communion service with readings and a sermon. We have not incorporated that in our diocese because it's my understanding that's for really extreme situations, like Alaska, where the priest gets there four times a year."
Will there be more priest-less weddings, funerals and baptisms?
"It's just a matter of time before everybody will experience some of this.... There are a lot of people who would like their parish to be just like it was in the 1950s.... Want to live in 2004? Well, you have to change a little bit."