WELLESLEY, Massachusetts (Reuters) - The sign outside St. James Church in the affluent Boston suburb of Wellesley sums up Catholicism’s deepening struggles in the United States.
“Still searching for a priest,” it reads. Another sign affixed to its thick doors pleads: “Save St. James.”
Facing dwindling congregations, shifting demographics and a drain on cash from settling sexual abuse lawsuits, Roman Catholic churches are shuttering at a quickening pace in a traditional stronghold, the U.S. Northeast.
Thank human goodness!
While Catholics remain the nation’s second-biggest religious group with about 22 percent of the population, a figure roughly unchanged since 1965 thanks to an influx of Hispanics, many dioceses are struggling to find priests.
Of the nation’s 18,479 parishes in 2008, 3,141 were without resident pastors, while the 480 priests ordained in 2008 is less than half the number of new priests in 1965.
The pedophiles can no longer find a safe haven in the priesthood. And who wants to be a priest with the reputation the Church now has? What will they do?