Catholic faithful face church closures: Parish closures hit Catholic communities across the Northeast and Upper Midwest

There are reportedly 67.1 million Catholics in the U.S., according to The Official Catholic Directory 2008. Compared to the 2007 number of 67.5, that’s about a 400,000 decrease in one year. And the Pew Forum found that approximately a third of its survey respondents who were raised in the Roman Catholic Church no longer attend the church. What drove the decision to close parishes in Cleveland were population shifts to outlying areas, financial strains that have 42 percent of parishes “operating in the red” and priest shortages, diocese spokesman Robert Tayek explained. The bishop, he said, is trying to find “an equitable solution.” But the announcement has raised many questions. Among them: What happens to the struggling neighborhoods that have come to rely on outreach and programs offered by some of these inner-city parishes?