In two earlier numbers, №1, № 2, there was presented, verbatim, canon laws. Below is an argument that has them as premises and rationale.
The three reasons cited for the necessity of reducing parishes, in Cleveland, Ohio, and elsewhere, are: priest shortage, demographic change, and lack of funding. It should be remembered that in defining the terms of debate, more than half the argument is won.
The proposed answer, to the three reasons cited for the necessity of reducing parishes, is invalid. The church must answer to the dictates of God, especially in the teachings of Jesus, Our God and Brother. Christ instituted the Church, and left Peter and his successors to guide it. Over the years, there has developed, a body of canon law that governs the working of the church as an organisation. The parish, the diocese, the bishops, and more are defined, and delineated, within canon law. A parish is a juridic person (similarly, in american law a corporation is a fictive, yet legal, person). A parish is formally erected by a bishop, in the diocese he oversees, not rules. Once created it is meant to be perpetual. To suppress it towards extinction is not easily done, canonically! The proposed answer, closing parishes, is not a response to the premises given. The premises may all be accurate, but they are not germane to the action desired.
Canon law provides for the administration of parishes without each parish having a resident priest. There is no equation, no quota, no ratio relating laity to clergy, priests to parishes, no 1 to ‘x’. Many countries have a higher ratio than the US, and the US has had higher ratios in the past. At the founding of the United States there were thirteen states and, probably, less than that number of priests.
The communities, who labored, and built their parish church, and signed the deed over to the bishop, would never have thought a future bishop would suppress them. With infrastructure, and transportation changes people can have a greater separation of their domicile from their labor and other pursuits. If one can regularly drive an hour to work, each way, and travel 90 miles or more round trip five times a week; such an one can drive more than a few miles to mass.
In Cleveland, and other cities of the industrial rust belts of the northeast and middle west, that multiplied in population several fold from the civil war to the vietnamese war, the catholic immigrants and their immediate descendants were the great engines and producers of growth. Now, with greater social and economic, status and opportunity (compared to their forebears), they have left their old haunts; but they can return, somewhat. The juridic persons, parishes, remain. New ones are not required to be made. The old ones were not created as temporary ad hoc entities, but as perpetual.
If funding were to be a canonical requirement, then self sustaining parishes would be exempt. Non self funding parishes could be forced to a reduced physical campus without extinction as a parish, in fact many people were led to believe, that initially, such measures were suggested by clustering, and that clustering would not mean suppression.
There may be other financial considerations of convenience that have not been stated. But they are not canonical either.
The three reasons cited are reasons the american business model gives for the reduction of franchises. The american business model gives great honor to capitalism. Capitalism is a form of mammon worship. Many people are quite pleased to say something is run, or ought to be run, like a business. Others are willing to assume, or acknowledge, that is the way to do things.
Capitalism wants to maximise profit. Capital is stored and accumulated labor. Without this cache of labor--there is no capital. Profit is receipts minus expenses. In every capitalistic business exchange the goal is to increase this vigorish. To accelerate and expand the principle: to get the most, while giving the least. To reduce to the ultimate simplicity: everything for nothing. THIS IS THE EXACT OPPOSITE OF CHRIST, AND HIS WAY.
Christian economic theories were: the early, simple communism of the early church, the theory of just prices of Augustine, the distributivism of Chesterton. In capitalism, as we know it to-day, there is given great power to the owner, or the chief economic officer, or simply management. In his business he demands to be as powerful as faro of old, an absolute despot. The dissenter is to be crushed, his prescribed role is to be silent and obedient. This american business management theory has become the accepted fallback model, here. In regards to the Church of Christ, Peter’s Barque, it is anathema.
The three reasons cited are not appropriate within the Church. General Electric, Starbucks and the rest of american apparat can act that way with impunity. A pastor is to guard each member of the flock. A bishop is not self invested with administrative power to do as he wishes. The Church does not need bureaucrats, whom think as MBAs from Wharton, Weatherhead or the University of Chicago. God have mercy on us, and send us an occasional saint.