Priest shortage, aging parish buildings prompt Archdiocese of Chicago overhaul

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CHICAGO – Church leaders will consult over the next few weeks and months to map out the future of the Archdiocese of Chicago, which could include closing or consolidating parishes.

In a column in “Catholic New World,” Archbishop Blase Cupich says resources have been spread too thinly because of shifting demographics, parish buildings in disrepair, and a shortage of priests.

“I would be less than honest if I did not acknowledge that by the time this consultative process is complete, we will mourn together the loss of some parishes. But that will not be the final word. By having the boldness to leave behind familiar ways of doing things, we can seize this season as one that is not simply of loss, but rather of renewal." wrote Cupich.

"It's necessary," said Father Thomas Belanger of St. Phillip Neri Parish in South Shore.

He says closing or merging as many as 100 parishes would be the worst case scenario, adding the archdiocese will work hard to make sure the reorganization process doesn't create Catholic church deserts in inner city communities.