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Archbishop Schnurr wrote that “We have a responsibility to make the best use of all the means which God has provided us to pursue this sacred mission.” After explaining the initiative’s content, the archbishop asked for each parishioner’s feedback for “public comment October 1-20,” on the website. “Please be sure to familiarize yourself with the information on the website,” Archbishop Schnurr wrote, “then prayerfully provide your input on this important step which will shape the future of our archdiocese.”

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr is known among U.S. bishops as one of the most organized and systematic Church administrators in the country. The archbishop, who organized 1993’s World Youth Day in Denver, is generally regarded as pragmatic, serious, and committed to tackling Church problems head-on.

Archbishop Schnurr’s decision seems motivated by two realities. The first is an increased awareness that many young priests are in-charge of multiple parishes and have to spent a lot of time on the road , which leads eventually to burnout, which is sometimes accompanied by “liability events,” as any number of unhealthy or unholy lifestyle choices might be termed. The second is an understanding that the kind of wholesale American institutional disaffiliation experienced in recent years isn’t going away, and the belief that it will not be countered by a commitment to maintaining an outsized institutional footprint at all costs.

Well beyond Cincinnati, the initiative is worth watching, as its approach may well become a model for institutional downsizing in dioceses across the country, especially in the Northeast and the Rust Belt.

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