The situation at Our Lady of Vilnius Parish is a striking example of the need for an examination regarding the manner we determine the status of parishes as Catholics. Most clearly the manner in which objects are “safeguarded” is obviously objectionable. The parish community is a living expression and representation of the Body of Christ. Any actions which affect one parish clearly have implications for other parishes, which are clearly part of the same Body. His Eminence, in the amputation of Our Lady of Vilnius as a functioning part of the entire body has chosen a radical treatment approach rather than a moderate direction of therapy. Always first in any consideration when closing, consolidating, merging or suppressing a parish community the spiritual and sacramental needs of the people are paramount. In this situation as well, the cultural, ethnic and historical contributions of a parish’s physical complex need substantial examination.

 The approach of the Archdiocese of New York regarding this parish is obscured. Is the issue one that truly reflects an economic reflection that is part of a larger “master plan” of consolidation, or is the matter one of obstinate pride on both sides of the discussion? Before the matter continues to any resolution, my question remains. Where is the consideration of both sides regarding spiritual and sacramental integrity at this parish? The representation of our Eucharistic unity transcends the temporal issues at work here. Both Archbishop and people need to work towards reconciliation and reunion in mutual understanding to resolve this matter. When this is attained then the matters of temporal resolutions can be viewed in a clearly sacramental and Catholic manner.

 

I am going to directly dive into this predator filled sea of many issues. Lets be honest. Your Eminence, lets not hide behind any scarlet curtains. Be an upfront guy and tell the parishioners at Our Lady of Vilnius Parish about the disposition of the parish properties. Is the property destined to become a speculative real estate investors retirement fund? Is it part of the re gentrification of formerly middle class and working class ethnic communities? Besides the position as the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese of New York, you hold the role as CEO, and COO of the institutional side of your Archdiocese. Be honest and tell the parish community what the business end of the Archdiocese intends to do with Church interests in this area. As a faithful parishioner in a suburban parish, I have roots in an urban parish as well.

 

 There is nothing more painful than watching the events surrounding a parish’s demise. It effects all varieties of individuals, shakes trust in institutional capability and undermines our sacramental unity. Take off the CEO hat. Put on the mitre and be a pastor…tell Our Lady of Vilnius parishioners the truth behind your actions. This matter has even made it to the attention of B-16 at the Vatican. Perhaps it would help to clarify matters if all of the concerned individuals emailed B-16 directly and presented their opinions. While it is highly irregular to communicate directly with the Holy Father, perhaps this should be an exception. I say this because the activities and behavior is not limited to your Archdiocese. Parish closings, property sales, consolidations and downsizing are happening all over the Catholic, United States. Such happenings are not only anticipative of the dwindling base of faithful Catholics, but also shows the shortcomings of parochial administrative care that is rampant in our Church. The Catholic people of all places demand better stewardship of their resources. Bishops get back to being pastors and spiritual inspirations to your people, not heads of corporations that rely merely on an Excel spread sheet.
Benedict XVI is calling for pastoral zeal in his bishops. Maybe everyone should send him an email of support. BenedictXVI@vatican.va should work.

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