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Closing churches, losing faithful? Don’t be anxious, the Pope says

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 30, 2018

The observation that many churches, which until a few years ago were necessary, are now no longer thus, due to a lack of faithful and clergy, or a different distribution of the population between cities and rural areas, should be welcomed in the Church not with anxiety, but as a sign of the times that invites us to reflection and requires us to adapt.

Those are the words of Pope Francis, as reported by the Vatican press office. The emphasis is mine.

If some day I arrive in a hospital emergency room bleeding profusely from gaping wounds, I’d like to think that the doctors would respond to (not exactly “welcome”) my arrival “with anxiety.” Because anxiety would be warranted.

The doctors could choose to let me wait a bit, while they reflected on the hazards of modern life and the best ways to prevent whatever sort of accident had befallen me. But if they did, they wouldn’t be very good doctors. In fact, if I survived, I might have a strong case for malpractice.

Our Church has been hemorrhaging members for decades now. The closing of churches is a symptom of a serious pathology. Yes, reflect on the causes. Certainly think about how to adapt. But for God’s sake be anxious, because souls are at stake!

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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