There are things to be carefully considered in the current squabble within our diocese over the closing of a number of parishes by the bishop – things about which I wonder what You would say.
It seems there are at least some things that can be said for the bishop’s side, for the side of a few outspoken clergy who oppose the bishop’s actions, and for the side of groups of faithful from some of the closed parishes.
From an economic and administrative standpoint I don’t think there was any doubt that the diocese had to do some “down-sizing.” This understandably hit life-long members of a closed church very hard. Often two, three, or more generations of a family saw their churches shut down. The degree of resentment and reaction varied. Many have filed appeals to either the bishop or directly to Rome. One group has rented their own building and, with their pastor, has continued to be an active parish despite the bishop’s threats of excommunication. The bishop, it seems to me, has definitely put himself in an indefensible position with this move. He may be a renowned administrative leader, but his pastoral leadership is becoming infamous. His threats regarding the endangerment of their souls and about excommunication to those who most strongly oppose him seem hollow and self-righteous compared to a flock that has found a way to worship together and celebrate with an alternative that still allows the bishop to close their church building.
I cannot help but thinking that You would say that all sides are missing the point. Establishing, nurturing, and growing in our relationship with You is not about buildings, or priests, or bishops, or even about economics or administration. All these my have ties to our growth, but they are not the foundation. In Russia people’s faith survived for decades without churches. We don’t often enough consider the fact that people are church – not buildings!