I'm more than a little surprised that diocesan officials continue to perpetuate this myth. Both Bishop Matthew Clark and Vicar General Fr. Joe Hart have been aware that it is untrue for at least a year and a half.
Fr. Hart and I exchanged letters in August of 2006 on the subject of DOR's declining Mass attendance. In a August 10, 2006 letter to him (with a copy to Bishop Clark), I wrote,
"Your letter repeats the often-cited 'dramatic de-population' excuse for DOR’s rapid decline in Mass attendance. Unless the US Census Bureau is making up its numbers out of whole cloth, however, that is one myth that needs to be put to bed here and now. According to official census data, the 12 counties that comprise DOR actually saw an overall increase of 7,341 people (0.5%) from July 1, 2000 to July 1, 2004. During essentially that same period, however, DOR’s Mass attendance numbers fell by some 13,000, for a decrease of 12.0%. While there may be a number of explanations for this decline, 'dramatic de-population' is definitely not one of them."
That letter ended with this postscript:"The US Census data I cite is on the Internet. Go to http://quickfacts. census.gov/qfd/states/36000lk.html and click on 'Estimates for New York counties [Excel].'"
Why do the Bishop and the Vicar General continue to spin this tale? Doesn't truth matter to them?