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Detroit Catholics: Archdiocese plans could "abandon" city

Last week, the Detroit Archdiocese said it willlikely close nine churches and consolidate dozens more starting next year.

The six-county Detroit Archdiocese, like many across the country, is dealing with a priest shortage and declining membership in many churches.

But an advisory group’s recommendationto close many of the region’s parishes—most clustered in an around the city of Detroit—has some Catholics crying foul.

Sister Cathey DeSantis heads the Detroit Catholic Pastoral Alliance, a coalition of 14 churches in the city. She said the Archdiocese and its advisors aren’t taking into account “what the people in the pews are capable of.”

“It is, according to canon law, very permissible to have lay administration in a parish. But our Archbishop doesn’t want that to happen,” DeSantis said.

DeSantis said the recommendations process was a “flawed” one that looked solely at staffing and financing issues.

"There’s a lot of talk about outreach," she said. "But that outreach doesn’t happen without a worshipping community that comes together, that feels a commitment to each other and to the place where they are. And those outreach programs grow from that.”

Archbishop Allen Vigneron is expected to announce final closure decisions early next year.

Sarah Cwiek joined Michigan Public in October 2009. As our Detroit reporter, she is helping us expand our coverage of the economy, politics, and culture in and around the city of Detroit.
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