Sneed: Cupich gathers priests to discuss church closings

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Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich. | Rich Hein/Sun-Times

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Pew news .  .  . 

Archbishop Blase Cupich, who is anticipating closing churches and restructuring parishes because of a shortage of priests in the next 15 years, has been gathering his frocked flock.

• Translation: Since hitting the deck running as head of the the nation’s third-largest Roman Catholic diocese, Cupich — who anticipates only 240 pastors available to run Chicago’s 351 parishes by 2030 — is planning ahead.

“There is no massive church overhaul slated yet, but the archbishop has called together his . . . priests three times in the past year in order to gain consensus and support for the velvet hammer he needs to use to get things done by 2030,” a highly placed church source said.

“He’s not just issuing orders. He wants consensus,” he added.

“But it’s an opportunity for renewal and the archbishop has been doing his due diligence since he got here in 2014. This is now the result of his research.”

Sneed is told the gathering the priests together this often is new — as well as the use of technology to gain consensus; smartphones flashing to tally votes recently at the White Eagle Restaurant where the last meeting was held.

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“Paper ballots are now gone,” the source said. “Cupich is breaking ground all over the place.”

“In the past, Cardinal Francis George would only call the priests together once a year at most,” he added.

“Cupich knows what needs to be done because there have been huge demographic shifts in the population and some churches will need to be consolidated or closed; priests need to be trained as pastors; shortages of priests are a continuing reality,” the source added.

Sneed is also told auxiliary bishops will begin meeting with the laity movers and shakers and parish regional staff next week.

“The archbishop is talking survival and working together to be of better service,” the Rev. Michael Pfleger said. “I understand this plan and I think it’s a smart idea. You can’t serve people if you are on life support. But we can’t let the poor be forgotten in this.

“We can’t abandon them.”

Pew news II .  .  . 

Monsignor Dan Mayall, who served for the past 14 years as pastor of the Holy Name Cathedral Parish following his appointment by the late Cardinal Francis George, is moving on. “Archbishop Cupich told me that he will offer me a position as pastor of another Archdiocesan Church yet to be named,” stated Mayall in a church bulletin.

“What happens next? I’ll keep you posted,” he wrote.

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