Nothing makes sense about All Things New (ATN). There appears to be no pathway for success for improving the condition of the Archdiocese after analyzing what has been proposed, and in fact, it will likely worsen things—a lot. Indeed, proceeding with ATN as its proponents suggest will result in accelerated losses in church attendance amidst the deliberate downsizing—even by their own admission. One can’t even explain the plan easily as some sinister plot to peddle real estate-for-cash, or by any scheme cooked up by dark forces intent on pilfering Church assets. Public scrutiny will certainly be too intense for any such financial sleight-of-hand operation given the charged atmosphere likely to accompany closures of beloved properties en mass. Nevertheless, given the amount of diocesan leadership input, this does not appear to be a plan formulated out of ignorance.
So what’s the deal? A smaller, sleeker, more distant and impersonal version of the Church seems to be in the making. Oddly, the new model will rely on increased efforts to evangelize by fewer expected churchgoers. Barring other interventions, these remaining “missionaries” will theoretically march forth armed with the same proportionately inadequate catechetical understanding that currently characterizes modern US Catholics based on recognized trends over the past 60 years. It is also fair to say that after parish school closings the knowledge deficit among this group will be one thing that is sure to grow.
Incredibly, there seems to be no interest in identifying the reason(s) why the Church is in decline. The question hasn’t even been asked! There has been minimal solicitation made for prayers to reverse the mass exodus, or even for increased vocations. For Catholics, prayer has always been requested in times of need. To understand the cause, of course, would be the logical first step in solving the problem. Where are the hired consultants on this crucial point?
All of this seems contrary to the admonitions of Christ to the apostles and is entirely antithetical to the meaning of the word “catholic” (universal ). The ATN plan could only be conceived in time of extreme desperation, but that’s not today, not now, and not at a time when most parish churches and schools are still quite functional, despite some facing lower attendance. Logic dictates that the flock will be increasingly scattered if there are fewer masses and fewer tabernacles. The whole approach seems completely irrational if the objective is to regain healthy Church growth, rightly motivated in spreading the Gospel and providing the sacraments.
One is left wondering if something else is driving this effort.
The political Leftists/Liberals presently in power within the Roman Curia clearly see the trajectory of their modernist, post-conciliar utopian remaking of the Church—and things aren’t going well. The Catholic Church is in decline nearly everywhere in the world. These “progressives,” heretofore basking in their “synodal” way, are currently facing the creeping death of their 60 year-old experiment in worldly accommodation. Worse yet, this image is juxtaposed against the rapid growth of the Traditionalist movement (TLM) and among nearly all exclusively orthodox priestly and religious orders. The present Church leadership sees itself on a path to extinction, essentially being vanquished by their life-long enemy, the conservative, tradition-loving, Catholic faithful.
This battle is definitely raging, and its course is now being recognized everywhere. For the radical elements now in charge, defeat in this manner is not acceptable under any circumstances. For them, it may be, the Church returning to its ancient culture cannot remain, hence the overarching effort to cancel all precounciliar Catholic history, culture, and, yes, even doctrine.(*) Pope Francis is forging his own “hermeneutic of discontinuity,” and is increasingly distancing himself from his predecessors through the blatantly heretical “Synod on Synodality.” Faithful Catholics must familiarize themselves with what is happening in Rome and throughout the Church. In doing so, and in light of the foregoing, All Things “New” takes on new meaning, and it seems to be just the latest salvo in an ancient conflict.
Far-fetched? It is indisputable that the Vatican is extremely polarized politically. Think of the Trump election victory, the George Floyd episode, or the Roe decision. One can now easily imagine, even fully expect, a loss by modern “activists” to be accompanied by violence or at the very least an adult temper tantrum, like the “poor sport,” who, when faced with losing, stops the game and leaves with his ball.
An unfortunate but plausible explanation does exist for ATN playing out in Saint Louis (and ATN’s congeners in other cities). It may be just this: if the radical Leftists and their uber-political secular collaborators can’t control the Church, then better to dismantle it than let their enemy retake it. Perhaps too, in some deranged and cobbled strategy, they may also believe that by systematically eliminating politically non-aligned priests and parishes, they could eventually assume total control of the remaining few, in a defund-the-police-like tactic? Sadly, both of these profoundly evil alternatives require significant psychopathology that would seem nearly impossible to hide, unless the convenient excuse of “just being obedient” is tendered.
This is the most disruptive movement within the Church in my lifetime and has required intense prayer for discernment on my part. No faithful Catholic wants to “go there,” but if the above is true, recognizing such a diabolical plan early is clearly the best defense. The destruction must be stopped.
Saint Michael, pray for us.