For the first time in about 25 years, a Boston archbishop met with all his diocesan priests this week. Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley met with 600 priests Dec. 16 to discuss key issues, such as parish closings, same-sex marriage and settlements with sex-abuse victims.
"I want the Catholics to realize we are family and we must see ourselves as something bigger than our own parishes," the archbishop said in an Associated Press article.
O'Malley urged the priests to encourage their parishioners to lobby against he legalization of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. In a ruling last month, the state’s Supreme Court gave the Legislature 180 days to rewrite the state's marriage laws to include access for homosexual couples.
The archbishop also announced plans to close parishes next year, reported the AP. Declining church attendance, a shortage of priests and a struggling financial condition led to the decision. Church closings are not new. In the past 20 years, about 50 churches have been closed in the archdiocese, O'Malley said. He does not yet know how many new closures there will be.
The archbishop insisted that churches are not being closed to help pay for the $85-million sex-abuse settlement. The settlement will be covered by bank loans and mortgages, which will be repaid by insurance money and sale of the bishop’s mansion. The archdiocese is expected to issue settlement checks next week.