Thursday, November 12, 2009

Promoting The Failed So They Can Fail Some More

Archbishop Dolan waves good bye, as parishioners 'walk away' from their parishes in Milwaukee.

There are certain myths out there that our more traditionalist friends take as Gospel truth. One of them is that Vatican II has been the cause for the vast numbers of 'walk away' Catholics. No matter how many times it's pointed out that Humanae Vitae caused the fist big exodus or that the bishops mishandling of the sex abuse crisis has precipitated the exodus in this decade, trads hold to their own truth.

The following is an article about the numbers of 'walk aways' precipitated by Archbishop Dolan when he was chief loser of the Diocese of Milwaukee. The numbers Dolan managed to rack up are important because he is now in New York and has taken a decidedly antagonistic approach to the New York Times. Apparently it's anti Catholic for the New York Times to present any coverage of the New York Archdiocese unless it involves anti gay marriage, abortion, or bingo games. So here's what the good pastor accomplished in Milwaukee:

Dolan's 5th Year Sees Record Breaking Drop in Church Attendance Stunning 600 Percent Plummet in Weekly Attendance from Previous Year
SNAP-Great Plains June 24, 2008 Bishop

According to figures buried in a story today in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel by religion reporter Tom Heinen, over the past year the archdiocese of Milwaukee has experienced a record breaking six-fold decrease in weekly church attendance from the previous year -- the greatest reported yearly loss in archdiocesan history. To see the magnitude of this extraordinary and sudden loss, while 3,957 Catholics stopped attending services last year, a staggering 26,398 members have left this year


According to figures published in the April 27, 2007 edition of the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, the official newspaper of the archdiocese, the drop in attendance between 2006 and 2007 reflected, the paper claims, similar percentage declines from dioceses around the country.

Not anymore.

According to today’s story, five years ago, average weekly church attendance for the nearly 650,000 “registered” Catholics of the archdiocese was 212,300. According to the Catholic Herald, in October of 2005 weekly attendance was 195,455. In October or 2006 it was 191,498. Now it’s 165,100.

Three years ago, Archbishop Dolan boldly announced that the conclusion of settlements in California the sex abuse crisis was over and had rescued the archdiocese from bankruptcy because Wisconsin victims will never be able to see their day in court. He was assuming, of course, that Wisconsin law, which grants civil immunity to sex offender clergy and their bishops—the only laws of their kind in the country—would never change.
(Typical thinking of a bishop. "I save us from bankruptcy by legally avoiding dealing with our clerical abuse victims." That's so what Jesus would do.)

Since then, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has begun to remove Wisconsin’s unique shield for religious leaders who covered up child sex crimes, ruling that Dolan and his fellow bishops could be sued for fraud. For the first time in fifteen years, cases against bishops are being moved through our courts. Dolan also failed to stop the court ordered release in February of never before seen documents from the archdiocese concerning Frankly Becker detailing a horrific four decades of sex abuse cover up. His much touted sale of the Cousins center fell through. More archdiocesan employees have been laid off. Audits are now underway after the disclosure that well over a dozen parishes have been targets of financial embezzlement or fraud. And Dolan’s lobbying efforts in Madison this spring to defeat the Child Victims Act failed to kill the bill that would kick away the final barrier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice in Wisconsin courts.

Because Catholics have little voice in the governance of their church, they display their disgust and outrage over the continual and catastrophic moral failure of their bishops to protect children and face up to their complicity in child rape by employing the only measures left to them: they vote with their wallet by withholding contributions they don't want to see used for covering up sex crimes and they vote with their feet, like the 26,398 Catholics have done over the past several months.

These thousands of angry Catholics gave Dolan five years to show some decisive leadership. They gave the archbishop their patience, their tolerance, and the benefit of the doubt. To leave now in record numbers is a serious warning sign that he has failed them and is leading the archdiocese in the wrong direction. .

Maybe, as the paper seems to endlessly enjoy speculating, our archbishop will, indeed, become the next Roman Catholic Cardinal of New York. Sadly, he will have done so leaving the problems in the Milwaukee archdiocese much worse than when he got here. At least that’s what over 26,000 Roman Catholics from the Milwaukee Archdiocese concluded this past year.

Here's another case of a failing organization promoting a demonstrably failed manager. Even the uber Catholic Tom Monaghan wouldn't have promoted the uber Catholic Archbishop Dolan to the most important franchise slot in Domino's Pizza with this kind of record. How sad is that?

It no longer matters what kind of wreckage a bishop leaves in his wake, it only matters that he's willing to bow to the Vatican. That's nice for the trads and reformers, but I can't help wonder how they expect to pay the overhead when these bishops are done with their 'work'.


  1. Colleen, absolutely amazing how this posting dovetails with what I was posting around the same time on my blog. You've provided concrete statistical evidence for the primary point I wanted to make in my posting--and with a focus on Dolan, whose anti-Catholicism argument I engaged in my posting.


  2. I noticed that too Bill. The postings did come up pretty close to each other.

  3. I saw this and it only added fuel to the fire that was going on in my head when Mr. TheraP read in the Spanish press about the threats to excommunicate Spanish legislators if they didn't vote on abortion rights as the bishops are telling them to! Four political parties complained there.

    I linked to your posts in my short blog this am.

    Thanks for this great blog!

  4. Wow! I missed updating my blog with a link to Bill's blog - and also to Andrew Sullvan's (while at the hospital with my elderly parents, one of whom had a minor and successful surgical procedure).

    Amazing how this many blogs on similar topics showed up on one day!

    I think it tells you that the bishops have crossed a political line - and done so via misuse of funds better spent on charitable purposes! It boggles the mind. And the morality meter here is stuck on "Shame"!

  5. The more I read of this, the more I'm reminded of a book I have buried in my shelves- "Freedom and Authority" by Paul Verghese, ( later known as Paulos Mar ( Metroplitan) Gregorios of the St. Thomas Christian Orthodox Church).

    This book needs reprinting...soon.

    Mar Gregorios presciently predicted the crisis of religious authority. His basic argument was simple; there is no authority, no true authority, unless it originates from a profound experience of the Sacred.

    It seems to me that the "crisis in authority" is coming to a real turning point or tipping point.

    It seems to me that most of the Catholic Church hiearchy have no authority. They just have power which intimidates.

  6. Colleen, I love the headline! It's sad but funny at the same time. The numbers of people leaving the Church here are really significant.

  7. TheraP - I just read your blog - Free Indulgences Over Here. I am laughing so hard. I used to make up stuff too in the confessional. LOL... Thank you!!!

    Bill, Your blog was very inspiring today, both of them.

    Colleen, unfortunately, money that should go to the poor will probably go to pay for the overhead, so the poor will pay the price for the hierarchy's failures.

    The laity that have left the pews will have to help donate to the poor because it appears it's more important for the Church hierarchy to spend money on an inquisition against Sisters ($cha ching), on ermine fur lined capes ($cha ching), long red silk trains ($cha ching), brocade and lace dresses ($cha ching), new missals with poor translations of the word most likely ($cha ching), campaigns waged against the civil rights of gay human beings ($$$$cha ching). "The morality meter is stuck on shame." (Loved that line - had to use it TheraP.)

    And the word verification is - traness (for some synchronicity)

  8. TheraP, I had missed that you have a blog. I've just discovered it, and will be reading it. Thanks for mentioning it in this thread, so that I could find it.

  9. Bill I've got it linked on this sidebar.

  10. Bill, I've got a couple of blogs. There's the one from TPM that is linked on the sidebar here. Nothingness is the one closest to my heart. (accessible by clicking my name) This all just kind of "happened".

    butterfly: glad you enjoyed that one!

    For the record, I only write when "moved" to do so. And lately that's been less than formerly. Lately I've been reading more than writing. Pondering. And commenting to the blogs of others.

    I'm trying to balance hope and outrage at the moment.

  11. I've been finding so many good blogs from here at Colleen's; connections to people struggling with the same things and trying to sort it out, of the same or similar in nature and experience, in the same world and time. Thank you all so much for your giving of yourself, your talents, insight, light, wisdom, humor, depth, integrity, time and gifts, enriching my life, and surely the lives of many others. I appreciate it immensely... I am truly blessed in your company, so much so that I can't put into words adequately or sufficiently.

    God Bless all the bloggers here and all the links to some incredible people of God.