Thursday, June 20, 2013

Why Does St. Joachim Have To Go?

I am back to reading what the planners have to say about themselves. I have no other way to know what they think. I think their writing shows that they're not serious. They don’t really believe in what they write. They just like to be in charge and they like that there are no serious rules that constrain them. In a court trial, for example, a judge doesn’t get to allow whatever he or she wants to be presented to the jury. A judge has to follow the law of evidence. If after the trial the judge is asked why he allowed a certain witness to say something, the judge can respond that the law of evidence required that it be allowed, even if the testimony meant that the wrong party would win the lawsuit.

The planners want us to believe that the “law” of pastoral planning tells them what to do. It doesn’t though. Everything in it is vague and indefinite and depends on feelings. It allows them to do anything they want, and then afterward say that they had to do what they did because that’s what the pastoral planning principles said had to be done.

The hardest thing about opposing them is that people don’t believe that there is no good reason for what they do. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia may have too many parishes. That tells you nothing about whether there should be a parish in Frankford or not. They’ll pretend that pastoral planning principles say St. Joachim has to be closed, but it’s just not true. Their “rules” are so vague that they justify any decision they want to make. 

The author at the Philadelphia Church Project has real knowledge about the parishes in Philadelphia. The planners’ decisions, though, never make sense to him. He can’t figure out why they do what they do. That’s because the real basis of their decisions is whim.

Now the rest of this post is speculation. I think there’s a good chance that it’s true, but it’s really just speculation. I’m going to give my belief regarding why St. Joachim had to go. It might be right or it might be wrong. But whether my reason is right or wrong, what I’m sure of is that the reason, whatever it really is, is absolutely unimportant. I’m sure that the reason for the closure is so silly that they can’t admit it. Whatever it is, if the archbishop knew the reason, he wouldn’t go along with it.

My theory is so crazy that even I had a hard time with it, but you decide what you think. The planners aren’t Catholic in the sense the Pope is.  They believe in a religion described in a document from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles entitled “Gather Faithfully Together.”  You can find it on the internet. It’s really stupid.  Unless you want to sit in a “small group” in some room in a “parish pastoral center” and talk about yourself and your feelings in some really pompous way you’re not fit for their religion. No regular people have any interest in this religion. Very few people do, but everybody who does has money. This is a religion so stupid that only well off people find it attractive.

They have no religion to offer regular people. They want to give us social workers instead. For example, the planners think Catholic education should be limited to the prosperous and the poor (and only a few of the poor). The children of working people should only get CCD or PREP or whatever the next name they make up for it is. The planners think that the parishes in working class neighborhoods shouldn’t have schools, that they shouldn’t really be involved in religion at all. The planners think that those parishes should instead have social workers and nurses and “pastoral ministers” “nourishing” the people who not only didn’t go to Lehigh or Penn State, they didn’t even go to Villanova or Cabrini. They think religion is OK for people with money, although their religion is a washed-out, vague, inoffensive religion. Working people are to be denied the Catholic faith entirely, and it is to be replaced with the professional services of social workers.

OK so I’m finally getting to the point. Specifically, why do they want to close Mater Dolorosa and St Joachim and save Holy Innocents?  These people are very suburban.  Very, very suburban. Very suburban and very allergic to a real urban environment. They think that someday soon they’ll have complete control of the archdiocese. In their imagination Frankford will be a grateful target for their concern. The bureaucrats will be dispatching to Frankford hoards of “pastoral ministers,” “liturgical ministers,” “music ministers,” DREs, “healthcare ministers,” parish nurses and social workers. They won’t live in Frankford, of course, they’ll be civilized people from the suburbs. Therefore they’ll need pleasant places to park their very nice cars. Someplace not close to Frankford Avenue. That place is Holy Innocents.  Neither St Joachim nor Mater Dolorosa provides the kind of parking places they’ll need when they are nourishing the grateful people of Frankford.

You may not believe me. I certainly don’t blame you if you don’t. They’ll never admit to what the real reason is, though, no matter how much they talk about what they have done, or how many justifications they propose.


  1. OK, I am curious.

    You may be right, you may be wrong. But to get a better sense of what you see the issues, both just and unjust, are, could you answer this for my curiousity?

    The Archbishop comes to you and says the archdiocese needs the same number of parishes as the original plan yields. But he asks you wish closed parishes should be left open, which open ones should be closed, and which consolidations should have occurred in different permutations, and then which ones?

    If you could also add specific rationale, that would be great. I simply cannot extrapolate your speculation about St J to the rest of the closures/consolidations, so I welcome your thoughts, thanks.

    1. I wrote an answer that I can't put here for reasons that are beyond me, so I will make my answer a new post.

  2. I am going to try to give a succinct response to this comment, so I can’t do it right now. It’s a question that I think about a lot, and have been thinking about since the school closing campaign. It’s a very practical question. In some ways its practical nature makes it harder for an outsider to answer, but I think an outsider has some advantages in answering it, too. I’ve thought about it so much though, that if I just start typing I’ll produce a long sprawling, involved discussion that might hide my point more than reveal it. So I’m going to start working on a response that makes my point in an organized manner with a minimum of wasted words. It’s an important question, and I do think about it a lot, but it’s one I never thought I would be addressing. So I’m going to put my thoughts in order and then put them here.

    1. OK thanks for responding to touch base, and take your time.

      I am in the diocese and see the whole exercise as a necessary evil, one which will upset many no matter what the details. So I hope you can understand that when you describe parts as unjust, this to me implies more than just an arbitrary but defensible permutation of belt tightening and gut checking.

      Don't worry I am not trying to troll or entrap. I actually have my own opinions about some of the proceedings but honestly not too much, as I simply do not know many pertinent details about most parishes in question. From your blog and website it is clear you are more informed about many parishes, so I would value more detail about your takes, especially on the decision making.

    2. If you have given up, I certainly don't blame you. But I love this question, and it's really helping me put my thoughts in order. When I respond (tomorrow, I hope) you may not find it useful, but I think I'm going to like it.

      And don't worry about entrapping me. The best thing that could happen to me would be for somebody to prove to me that these people know what they're doing. It would be a relief to me, but I don't think it's going to happen.