Monday, March 3, 2008

The Dramatic De-Population Myth

My previous post drew the following comment from SJRSOS: "We had been told of the declining population story several times, but when we went to the Census website, we were shocked."

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. 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?


Mo said...

Very Interesting Blog. I just added some research I did in a paticular parish in the Diocese of Rochester. I'd lover your input.

Mike said...

Hi Mo,

You've got a nice blog going there. Thanks for the invitation to take a look.

It certainly looks like you have more than you share of liturgical and other abuses going on in Auburn. Complaining to the bishop is probably an exercise in futility, but have you considered posting your observations on the "Orthodoxy Hotline" at I have no idea whether it will do any good, but at least you might get some more feedback.

I can say something about Tenebrae services, as I was involved in one as a reader about 4 years ago. When I first was asked to participate it sounded pretty iffy and newage-ish to me, but a little research showed it to be an ancient practice in the Church, dating back to at least the 5th century. If done right (a big "if"), it can be a very moving, spiritual experience.

If you're interested, there's a good article on Tenebrae in the online Catholic Encyclopedia.

Most of that other stuff you list sure smells like garbage to me.