Pittsburgh Catholic diocese launches new initiative as it faces decline in parishioners, priests
[The “springtime” of Vatican II continues to come to the Pittsburgh, PA, diocese – the latest round]
Posted: Sunday, May 22, 2016
By Frances Borsodi Zajac | Pittsburgh Herald-Standard
Facing a decline in parishioners and priests, Bishop David Zubik announced the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh is undergoing a diocesan-wide planning initiative that may call for the closing of some churches and schools …
Zubik spoke at media breakfast Friday morning at Lawless Hall at St. Mary of Mercy Church in downtown Pittsburgh where fact sheets were provided on state of the diocese that shows fewer people attending Mass, fewer priests to serve them and aging buildings without financial resources to care for them.
Figures released by diocese show the Catholic population within its borders has dropped from 753,147 in 2000 to 632,138 in 2015 while the number of priests in active ministry decreased from 338 to 225. It’s projected the number of priests will fall to 112 by 2025.
Media sheets noted involvement in church life has steadily declined in the diocese’s 199 parishes through these years.
“In 2000, about 247,000 people attended Mass weekly. By 2015, that number had fallen by 40 percent to about 149,000. The number of parishioner weddings fell 48 percent, from 3,258 in 2000 to 1,693 in 2015. In the same period, infant baptisms declined 47 percent,’’ the diocese reported.
“Many of our parishes are struggling financially. Overall giving has remained stable due to the generosity of many parishioners. However, operating costs continue to increase as participation decreases. Currently, nearly half of the parishes run annual deficits, up from one-third three years ago, and are rapidly depleting their savings,’’ according to the diocese.
The diocese noted that many people have lost their connection to the Church and attending Mass and practicing the faith “is no longer a strong, driving force in America.’’