To the editor:
The need for a new cathedral is ridiculous. We presently have a great cathedral, relatively new and of proper size for the diocese. Larger, wealthier communities may have closed some churches over the years, yet their original cathedrals still stand and are used. No matter the location and size of the cathedrals, or the closing of churches, these cities didn’t burden their people with a new monolithic building.
I was a pontifical server for Bishop Mussio from 1950-51. In all the ceremonies and Masses at the cathedral, I can clearly remember that it had overflow crowds only at ordinations (a thing of the past) and Christmas. At that time our population was more than double what it is today. Recently, the bishop himself wrote that the Catholic population is down 50 percent from years past. Probably about 70 percent of the local parishioners are between 60-80 years old. These people contributed to the schools, churches, remodeling needs and to the annual diocese drive.
Most of our churches are debt free, and are now being asked to contribute to a new cathedral. Since the drive won’t be a success, the churches will be assessed an amount of money. You work, pay off your mortgage, then here comes the bank saying we forgot — you owe us $40,000 again. Not logical.
In the early days of the diocese, good paying jobs were plentiful, now they are down 70 percent and at one-half the pay rate. Look at Catholic Central High School — student enrollment is down 70 percent. With few locals staying in the area, who is left to pay the tab.
Another facet of the new cathedral is the disbanding of the largest church in Steubenville, forcing members to form a new unneeded and unwanted church. The diocese sent out missionaries to get converts and now with one fell swoop, chase many people away, saying, “We are closing you up, but not like a king you must go pay for a new monument.” This is logical?
Some churches may have been on their last leg and needed closed, but Holy Rosary? Close Holy Rosary parish to make a new “Holy Rosary” parish. What logic? One of the local clergy mentioned that in the 1960s, the bishop put up things in the West End that he thought were wrong, but worked out very well. Yes, I agree, but this is 2008 and these new changes do not make sense. Back then, we had double the Catholics as today and 80 percent were in the prime of their lives, not in the fall of their lives.
In this time of recession, we need strong economic and religious leaders who are logical. We are in 2008, not the 1950s or 1960s when the Catholic community was very large and wealthy. Let’s look logically at our present and our future.