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Scranton IIToday we pick up the thread that we started in the posts The Dignity Snatchers – Part 1 and Part 2 and the Going Down with the Neo-modernist Ship. In this analysis, we are using our earlier defined Peirce/Ockham pragmatic methodology (see here) in a framework set out by John Lamont in his essay titled Attacks on Thomism (see here). I am providing this background info with links for all the new visitors who have recently began following this blog. And on an aside, welcome aboard.

Back to today’s topic and just as a quick review, The Dignity Snatchers – Part 1 (see here) detailed the destruction left by “the Spirit of Vatican II” in one of the mainline protestant sects, the Methodists in this case. As we explained in that post, when the Catholic Church “protestantized” itself after the Second Vatican Council, the knock-on effect that it had on the mainline protestant sects was that it deprived them of one of the two pillars of their faith – as per the Lamont essay, i.e. the rebellion against Catholicism. We went on to infer that the second pillar of the Methodist faith, the positive elements such asjustification of faith, and the like “ were not strong enough to compensate for the loss of the “rebellion against Catholicism”, which in turn forced the Methodist to transition their “theological” model into a “religious non-governmental organization” model.

In the post The Dignity Snatchers – Part 2 (see here), we examined why the adaptation of the “religious NGO” business model turned out to not be a good idea, illustrating that this new approach not only didn’t stop the post-conciliar decomposition of the Methodist’s congregation, but what was worse, it turned the Methodists themselves into self admitted “bad people”, what we labeled “dignity snatchers”. We explained how the Methodists, realizing what had transpired, decided to do another complete business reorganization. To that end, the Methodist’s undertook an objective methodological approach in order to figure out what they can do to save their religious enterprise. The result was another transition, this time away from the “religious NGO” business model into a “member exchange cooperative” business model.

In the third post of this thread titled Going Down with the Neo-modernist Ship, (see here) we examined a comparable situation within the US Catholic Church, this one in the diocese of Scranton Pennsylvania. We explained how the head of the Scranton diocese, after years of failure brought about by the “spirit of Vatican II” and the Neo-modernist “theology of death”, was resigned to the inevitable disintegration of his dioceses. In what appeared to be an “upbeat message”, the bishop of Scranton,  “even after raising concerns about staffing parishes without priests, he ended on a positive note, voicing confidence the faithful will rise to the occasions.” 

So that is the background.

Today we pick up our thread back at the diocese of Scranton and examine how the head of this diocese is dealing with the situation, a situation analogous to that of the head of the Broadway United Methodist Church. To be more precise, the bishop of Scranton is not only facing a problem with a post-conciliar decomposition of Methodist’s congregation parish church attendance, but a much more pressing issue of priests and vocations. It is this last issue that was the subject of the bishop of Scranton’s Easter video message. (see here)

So here are some basic facts with respect to the situation in the Scranton Diocese as outlined by the bishop:

Among the facts provided by the diocese: (see here)

In 1990, there were 316 priest in active ministry in the Diocese of Scranton.

Today, there are 130.

Of these 130, 16 are 45 years old or younger.

Over the next 10 years, 45 priests will reach the retirement age of 75.

37 of them are pastors/administrators.

In 1990, there were 44 men preparing for priesthood.

Today, there are nine over an eight-year span of preparation.

There will be one ordination to the priesthood in the diocese this year and five retirements.

From the above information, confirmed by the bishop’s video and analysed using our Peirce/Ockham pragmatic methodology, it would appear that the most critical issue facing the Diocese of Scranton is a shortage of priests and vocations.

And how does the bishop intend to address this issue?

The manner in which the bishop of Scranton indicated that he will address the above issue is as follows:

Bambera called for the formation of eight regional committees to study the looming problem and plan for possible options. He urged parishioners to get involved.

Hmmmm!

It would appear that some dissonance has crept in between the critical issue of the shortage of priests and vocations on the one hand and the bishop’s proposed approach to resolving this issue, i.e. the “formation of eight regional committees to study the looming problem” on the other.

Let’s see if we can find any confirmation that the TRUE AGENDA of the bishop of Scranton lies somewhere other than in addressing the critical issue of the shortage of priests and vocations in his diocese.

The bishop continues:

The 11-county diocese has seen the number of priests drop from a high of 420 in 1970 to about 130 now. In his speech, Bambera noted that even with a new, more focused effort to draw more men to the priesthood, the diocese will lose a net of about 40 priests in the next decade.

So in essence, the critical issue of the shortage of priests and vocations is in fact a secondary issue at best. Actually, it does not appear to be an issue at all.

So if the critical issue of the shortage of priests and vocations is indeed a secondary issue at best, what could the the TRUE AGENDA behind the bishop’s message be? Here is a hint:

In the video, the bishop said there will be regional gatherings throughout the diocese to discuss how the Church can prepare if more don’t rise to replace outgoing priests.

Yes. Now we are getting to the essence of the message that the bishop of Scranton wanted to convey. And I will allow the bishop of Scranton to further explain:

It’s common for lay people to run parishes in other regions, but the leadership shift would be new to the Diocese of Scranton.

So there you have it. And just to be certain as to the accuracy that this is behind the bishop’s TRUE AGENDA, here is more of what the good bishop said:

The solution is nothing new for the Church, he said, as some dioceses in other parts of the country have entrusted parish administration to lay people for 20 to 25 years.

So the REAL message that the bishop of Scranton wanted to convey is that times are a changing and the diocese of Scranton will just have to deal with them. And that is the REAL message that the bishop of Scranton wanted to convey to his flock this past Easter. Besides:

In the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, where former pastor of St. Mary of the Mount in Mount Pocono, the Most Rev. Joseph Kopacz, now serves as bishop, 16 parishes now are administered by lay people and men and women religious, Bishop Bambera said. (see here)

So you see dear reader, it’s not an issue of getting in front of the curve and putting in place a plan using an objective methodological approach, like in the case of the Broadway United Methodist Church for example, an approach that would try to arrest the decline, or maybe even reverse the critical issue of the shortage of priests and vocations in the Diocese of Scranton.

No, the TRUE AGENDA is to allow fate along with the neo-modernist “theology of death” to take their course. And we know exactly where this dynamic duo leads bishops like the one in the Diocese Scranton?

Just in case you forgot, fate and the neo-modernist “theology of death” leads them to the same place that it has already led the Prelate of the Netherland. And just to remind you dear reader where the end of this road lies, here is the relevant passage from another message delivered during Lent of this year: (see here)

Although church buildings might disappear, our faith and the will to be the Church does not disappear from our villages and districts – Cardinal Eijk writes in his message for Lent.

Given the above and reading the attached posts, it can be inferred with a very high level of certainty, that the real message that the bishop of Scranton wanted to convey to his target audience of his Easter message was one of preparing them for an orderly wind-down of the diocese of Scranton. In essence, the bishop has consigned the Dioceses of Scranton to the fate suffered by the Catholic Church in the Netherlands. And this message of the bishop of Scranton was as upbeat and positive as it was fatalistic.

Looking at the situation in the Diocese of Scranton from the outside, one can say that Cardinal Eijk’s statement that “church buildings might disappear and that the Church does not disappear” is a TRUE statement. However, I wonder if the bishop of Scranton and the Prelate of the Netherlands for that matter, realize that those who “manage the disappearance” of the visible church in this Vale of Tears are consigning themselves to a fate worse than death.

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