Opinion
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 Sancta Familia Media

HAMILTON, Scotland (LifeSiteNews) — The tabernacle of a Catholic church in Scotland remained exposed for days during the demolition of the church, a poignant symbol of the abandonment of God as Catholic churches are increasingly being shuttered in the West.

A photograph of an intact tabernacle amid a largely-demolished St. Cuthbert’s Church in Hamilton, Scotland, sparked an outcry on social media on Monday, with commentators lamenting the fact that such a sacred object, which sheltered the very Body of Christ, was left exposed as the church was being hacked to bits. 

Many concerned local Catholics had begun reporting the exposed tabernacle a week prior, according to Sancta Familia Media, which published a striking photo of the scene. Some were concerned that the tabernacle itself might be bulldozed. 

The parish priest of St. Ninian’s and St. Cuthbert’s, Father Charles Dornan, told LifeSiteNews in a Tuesday email that ​​he had asked a church supplier to remove the tabernacle and was informed that “it was not possible because the tabernacle was not free standing and could not be removed without destroying it.” The tabernacle’s back is furnished by the wall of the church itself.

However, Sancta Familia Media, which originally published a photo of the exposed tabernacle on its Facebook page, later on Tuesday posted a photo of construction workers removing the tabernacle. 

Dornan told LifeSiteNews that the tabernacle’s removal was coordinated by the diocesan estate manager with demolition contractors. He confirmed that the tabernacle will be transferred to St. Ninian’s, with which St. Cuthbert’s was merged upon its closure.

One commentator observed that it is “lack of faith in the Blessed Sacrament and all that is holy and connected to the Lord” that leads to the abandonment of the practice of the faith, which in turn leads to church closures.

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The number of Catholics attending Mass in the West has steeply declined over the last 60 years in particular, after the Second Vatican Council, and church closures during COVID-19 have worsened that decline, as many Catholics became accustomed to staying at home on Sundays and have not returned after churches were reopened. 

According to the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland’s website, only 127,003 Scottish Catholics out of an estimated population of 705,500 (about 18 percent) attended Sunday Mass regularly in 2019, according to The Scottish Catholic. The website reported last year that since COVID-19, these numbers have dropped by a third in the best cases and by much more in other instances.

St. Cuthbert’s numbers among the casualties of this mass desertion — Sancta Familia Media has reported that the church was closed because there weren’t enough parishioners to cover its expenses.

While St. Cuthbert’s administrator had originally intended that the tabernacle be removed prior to the bulldozing of the church, its presence amid the church wreckage serves as a stark reminder that church closures stem from the abandonment of God Himself, Who is truly present in the Blessed Sacrament.

We see, then, that the Catholic Church cannot be revived until faith in Christ’s teaching on His Real Presence in the Eucharist is restored, as well as true love for Him in the Blessed Sacrament. 

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