Archbishop Chaput warns of possible parish closures

PHILADELPHIA- December 11, 2011

It warns that the church is facing serious money issues.

The archdiocese has 266 parishes and 277 schools but a blue ribbon commission will soon recommend closing some several of both.

Some parishioners say, like any big business, the church can't survive without paying attention to the bottom line.

"The church is a business. You have to do what you have to do to keep places alive, why should they be any different. It's going to be a tough year but I don't think it should ruin anybody's faith," said Peter Mulranen.

Parochial schools are central to the lives of many families in the area.

Diane Moore has three girls in a parish school. If it closes, she says she'll find a way to maintain their Catholic education.

"Maybe it will make us stronger if some of the smaller schools combine. I hope people stick with the idea of religious education, its valuable," said Moore.

The archdiocese is also facing bad publicity over the priest child sex abuse scandal. A Monsignor, two priests and a lay teacher will be on trial in March.

Archbishop Chaputs' letter warns the faithful to brace for an onslaught of negative headlines.

"This is going to be something that the media will be covering and that becomes a great burden for our people and the priests," said Msgnr. Arthur Rodgers.

The scandal has shaken the faith of many parishioners but some see the trial and the church's own internal investigation as a step toward closure.

While the Archbishop's letter warned of trying times ahead, he also encourages Catholics with words often found in scripture "Do not be afraid."

MORE: Archbishop Charles Chaput's pastoral letter

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