ST. LOUIS (LifeSiteNews) — The Archdiocese of St. Louis, under the leadership of Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski, announced at the end of the July that seven parishes would receive what amounts to a temporary stay for the eventual consolidation of the churches.
A July 31 news release from the archdiocese said that “several parishes for whom decrees have been issued have pursued recourse with the archdiocese of St. Louis.” And while Archbishop Rozanski has declined to reverse his Pentecost decrees, the statement said that there are “a number of parishes” that have informed the archdiocese that they intend to pursue hierarchical recourse (appeal) with the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Clergy.
The seven are reportedly the following: St. Angela Merici (Florissant), St. Catherine of Alexandria Parish (Coffman), St. Francis of Assisi Parish (Luebbering), St. Martin of Tours Parish (Lemay), St. Matthew the Apostle Parish (St. Louis), St. Richard Parish (Creve Coeur) and St. Roch Parish (St. Louis).
A leading opponent of the closures says that many more parishes in the diocese are hoping to be saved.
“Beyond the seven parishes already granted a suspension [of closure], we know of at least eight others that have appealed to Rome, and that have clearly let the archdiocese know even if only by virtue of their initial appeal or remonstratio,” said Ken Battis, a president of Save Our Churches.
“We heard that an eighth parish was possibly granted a suspension – Our Lady of Sorrows,” Battis added. “While we have not yet had a chance to verify that, nor why many other parishes who are appealing – including St. Barnabas, St. Bernadette in LeMay, St. Paul in Berger, SS. Philip & James in River Aux Vaus – have not been granted the same mercy of a suspension.”
However, a separate announcement shows that the archdiocese is moving full speed ahead. It reveals that the archbishop plans to reduce the number of parishes from 178 to 135. In other words, he wishes to eliminate 43 parishes, that is, nearly 25 percent. The news release subheading describes the elimination of 43 parishes that is the diocese’s planned result by saying that they “will be reshaped.”
“Out of respect for each parishioner’s right to this recourse and in keeping with Archbishop Rozanski’s desire to maintain access to the sacraments, we will be suspending the effects of the following All Things New decrees until this process has been exhausted,” the statement reads.
The news release reveals that the archbishop fully expects to have its parish reduction plan rubber-stamped by the Dicastery for the Clergy and that the current suspensions of his decree for the seven churches is temporary.
“[T]he reassignment of archdiocesan priests will proceed as planned. The suspension of the effects of these decrees will be lifted once recourse before the Apostolic See has concluded,” it says.
In a recent post on X (formerly Twitter), Archbishop Rozanski likened “parish planning” – a euphemistic way to refer to the elimination of nearly 25 percent of St. Louis parishes – to “baking a cake.” He said that it takes “patience and planning.” Also, in a column from January 2022, he wrote that he was looking forward to the process “with some excitement” and also “with some trepidation.”
— Archbishop Mitchell T. Rozanski (@abp_rozanski) August 4, 2023
Battis expressed his organization’s support for the suspension of the decrees for the seven churches.
“While we are very thankful that the Archdiocese ultimately closed only about one-third of the number of parishes they initially planned to close, the laity had to truly fight for those successes,” Battis said. “We are likewise thankful that seven of those closure decrees have been suspended, but believe the process still lacks transparency.”
Battis added that the laity have been “marginally” involved.
“They talk about a survey and listening sessions, but none of those sessions were personally attended by Archbiship Rozanski or his leadership,” Battis said. “And to this day, there has not been even one session of open dialogue including questions and answers from Archbishop Rozanski, his vicar, Father Chris Martin, or any of the leadership team.’’
Meanwhile, Laurie Elie, another St. Louis Catholic, thinks the merging of parishes is the diocese’s attempt to liberalize Catholic attitudes and outlooks on a local level by amalgamating Catholics who prefer the Traditional Latin Mass and reverent Novus Ordo liturgies with more liberal parishes.
“All that I am hearing from everyone including lay faithful and priests is that the entire process is very confusing,” she said. “It’s like the icing on the cake culminating from the past 60 years of destruction.”
“I think the Church needs restoration,” Elie said. “I don’t see any good fruits from the past 60 years. I see that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.”