Back in November, thanks to the Murphy Report, "mental reservation" got a lot of press. Mental reservation is a longstanding sin-evasion tactic that involves the clever juxtaposition of facts to present the "receiver" with the opportunity to draw a conclusion favorable to the "reserver" even if the conclusion is not true. One of my readers (I have 2 that I know of) commented on my post of November 28:
"You know how the Fox network has that show called "Lie to Me"?....maybe EWTN could have "Amphibologize Me." Is that where we get the word "fib"?"
Well, today's New York Times piece, Catholics Reel as a Diocese Whittles Its Parishes, describing the "consolidation" process in the archdiocese of Camden suggests another potential blockbuster for EWTN: "Biggest Loser, Parish Edition".
Across the nation archdioceses are toppling like dominos in response to financial woes and lack of priests. The archdiocese of Camden is the one most recently publicized in the press, but the repetition makes it no less painful. There is no "they" here. "They" are "us", suffering the same pain and sorrow of loss and receiving, at least in the press releases, little pastoral comfort from the top of the hierarchy.
Today's Times article focuses on the parish of the Most Holy Redeemer in Deptford Township, NJ. Salient quote from parishioner:"“There is so much blood and sweat in that church,” said Mrs. Medany, who raised four children in the parish, including Deptford’s current mayor, Paul Medany. “We have a church here we busted our humps for. It’s gorgeous and we love it. And we are very upset.”
This is what the archdiocese says:
"Bishop Joseph A. Galante, head of the Camden Diocese since 2004, said his decision to consolidate parishes, although difficult, was pivotal to revitalizing Catholicism in South Jersey.
“With all these individual parishes, effectively we’ve lost 76 to 78 percent of our people who don’t practice the faith,” the bishop said. “To keep doing the same thing over and over again in the same way and expect different results, as you know, is a sign of insanity.”
He said that parishes needed a critical mass of worshipers to attract young people and immigrants, two points that parishioners have made to him. Parishes must also be big enough to pay staff members and not rely on volunteers."
What is being mentally reserved in this statement? Maybe EWTN could create a winning line up by running "Amphibologize Me" and "Biggest Loser: Parish Edition" back to back.
Archdiocesan leaders could learn a lot about doing it right by consulting with parishioners where they've done it wrong. Having lost our churches, we are also concerned about losing our Church. Maybe "Extreme Makeover: Archdiocese Edition" would draw big numbers among the laity. If the powers that be are concerned about "branding," they should consult me. My iron is hot!