From the Chicago Tribune:
Several South Side and south suburban Catholic parishes will consolidate this summer, the Archdiocese of Chicago announced, as part of the ongoing Renew My Church initiative aimed at more efficiently tending the Catholic flock as church attendance falls and the number of priests declines.
… The Renew My Church program has been met with opposition from some Chicago area Catholics, who complain their parishes are not truly being renewed but blended and closed regardless of financial and cultural viability in a “cash grab.” A parishioner group, Saving Our Catholic Churches, has called on Cupich to halt the process with at least 25 parishes.
Some parishioners are challenging closures and consolidations, seeking to take financial control over churches using Vatican courts, saying canon law allows them the right to try and preserve their Catholic sacred spaces that might otherwise go to a secular owner or real estate developer.
What doesn’t seem in dispute is the Chicago-area Catholic Church, in general, is in decline. Enrollment at Catholic schools has dropped significantly, as much as 30% in just four years in some locations, and Mass attendance in Chicagoland has dipped by 27% over two decades, according to the archdiocese. Funds are harder to come by with fewer parishioners filling the collection plate and paying tuition.
A spokesperson for the archdiocese said to expect more announcements regarding parish consolidation through Friday evening. As of Wednesday morning, 141 parishes have been part of consolidations now forming 57 parishes, the spokesperson said. Of these, 44 churches will no longer be used on a regular basis for Mass and 40 parishes remain unchanged.