Dolan's 5th Year Sees Record Breaking Drop in Church
Stunning 600 Percent Plummet in Weekly Attendance from Previous
June 24, 2008
According to figures buried in a story today in the Milwaukee Journal
Sentinel by religion reporter Tom Heinen, over the past year the archdiocese
of Milwaukee has experienced a record breaking six-fold decrease in weekly
church attendance from the previous year -- the greatest reported yearly
loss in archdiocesan history.
To see the magnitude of this extraordinary and sudden loss, while 3,957
Catholics stopped attending services last year, a staggering 26,398 members
have left this year
According to figures published in the April 27, 2007 edition of
the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, the official newspaper of the archdiocese,
the drop in attendance between 2006 and 2007 reflected, the paper claims,
similar percentage declines from dioceses around the country.
According to today’s story, five years ago, average weekly church attendance
for the nearly 650,000 “registered” Catholics of the archdiocese was 212,300.
According to the Catholic Herald, in October of 2005 weekly attendance
was 195,455. In October or 2006 it was 191,498.
Now it’s 165,100.
Three years ago, Archbishop Dolan boldly announced that the conclusion
of settlements in California the sex abuse crisis was over and had rescued
the archdiocese from bankruptcy because Wisconsin victims will never be
able to see their day in court. He was assuming, of course, that Wisconsin
law, which grants civil immunity to sex offender clergy and their bishops—the
only laws of their kind in the country—would never change.
Since then, however, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has begun to remove Wisconsin’s
unique shield for religious leaders who covered up child sex crimes, ruling
that Dolan and his fellow bishops could be sued for fraud. For the first
time in fifteen years, cases against bishops are being moving through
our courts Dolan also failed to stop the court ordered release in February
of never before seen documents from the archdiocese concerning Frankly
Becker detailing a horrific four decades of sex abuse cover up. His much
touted sale of the Cousins center fell through. More archdiocesan employees
have been laid off. Audits are now underway after the disclosure that
well over a dozen parishes have been targets of financial embezzlement
or fraud. And Dolan’s lobbying efforts in Madison this spring to defeat
the Child Victims Act failed to kill the bill that would kick away the
final barrier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice in Wisconsin
Because Catholics have little voice in the governance of their church,
they display their disgust and outrage over the continual and catastrophic
moral failure of their bishops to protect children and face up to their
complicity in child rape by employing the only measures left to them:
they vote with their wallet by withholding contributions they don't want
to see used for covering up sex crimes and they vote with their feet,
like the 26,398 Catholics have done over the past several months.
These thousands of angry Catholics gave Dolan five years to show some
decisive leadership. They gave the archbishop their patience, their tolerance,
and the benefit of the doubt. To leave now in record numbers is a serious
warning sign that he has failed them and is leading the archdiocese in
the wrong direction. .
Maybe, as the paper seems to endlessly enjoy speculating, our archbishop
will, indeed, become the next Roman Catholic Cardinal of New York. Sadly,
he will have done so leaving the problems in the Milwaukee archdiocese
much worse than when he got here.
At least that’s what over 26,000 Roman Catholics from the Milwaukee Archdiocese
concluded this past year.
-Link to today’s Journal Sentinel Story: http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=76483
-Link to April 2007 Milwaukee Catholic Herald Story: http://www.lakeshorecreative1.org/CHNonline/2007/2007-04-12/newsstory3.html
Contacts: Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director, 414.429.7259, John Pilmaier,
SNAP Milwaukee, 414.336.8575.