Deacon Ray Defendorf recently lauded Bishop Matthew Clark as an “outstanding and very pastoral” leader who had made DOR “a refreshing oasis where lay participation at all levels of church administration and pastoral planning are valued and encouraged.” The deacon went on to add that “we are praying that the deeply spiritual pastoral leadership and commitment to the values of Vatican II that we have enjoyed for over thirty years will not be retired with him.”
Given that extreme praise one would expect the Diocese of Rochester to have been a flourishing bastion of Catholicism under Bishop Clark’s thirty years’ of leadership. The record, however, tells a different story.
There are an awful lot of negative numbers in this spreadsheet but some of them stand out as disserving of more concern than others.
For instance, the precipitous decline in the number of Catholics married in the Church (62%) taken with the decline in infant baptisms (48%) and the decline in the number of children receiving any kind of instruction in the faith (58%) speak loudly and clearly of a diocese where the faith is dying.
One would think that our bishop would have been doing everything in his power to counter these trends.
Bishop Clark, however, seems to have had other priorities, as Deacon Ray has told us.
June 19, 2010 Update: A question arose in the comments below as to whether the general population decline in the Northeast U.S. could have skewed DOR’s 30-year statistics in an unfavorable direction.
The short answer is no.
The long answer is that DOR’s total population has been remarkably stable over the last 30 years. Online U.S. Census Bureau data shows DOR’s 2009 overall population to have been 1,461,748 and, while I have yet to find the 1979 figure, www.Catholic-Hierarchy.org reports a 1976 figure of 1,439,600 and a 1980 figure of 1,467,300. Interpolating between these two values gives a 1979 population of 1,460,375.
Thus, DOR’s overall population has grown by 1,373 (0.09%) in the last 30 years, a number far too small to have had any effect on the results shown above.
Tags: Bishop Clark