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Catholic Church In Vermont Loses A Fifth Of Its Membership

06/13/10-by Bridgette P. LaVictoire
There is bad news in Vermont’s Roman Catholic Church. Recent numbers are showing that the Church has lost roughly twenty percent of its membership in recent years. Before Pope Benedict took over the papacy, Vermont had 149,000 Catholics, but five years later, they are reporting that they have 118,000. This decline of 31,000 members represents a steep decline. Where, once, Rutland City’s Catholic school, Mount St. Joseph Academy, was one of the strongest institutions of learning in Rutland County, it has dwindled down to less than one hundred students, and only twenty-eight graduates this year.

The Catholic Church in Vermont is also facing major problems with a severe drop in the number of priests. In 1975, there were 274 priests, but in 2005, there were only 81. It is expected that, by 2015, there will be only 55 priests in Vermont. Across the state, there are little rural churches that were closed beginning in the 1950′s. Those abandoned churches will be added to in the next half decade.

Vermont is one of the least religious states in the nation, and church attendance is declining across the board. A growing distrust of organized religion does not indicate that the state is becoming more atheistic. There are more people within the state who are either agnostic or turning to spirituality and less organized forms of worship.

Recently, a photo in the Vermont Catholic Tribune, which is now an online website instead of a newspaper, pictured a photograph of Bishop Salvatore Matano blessing a man in a manner that made the man kneeling in front of Matano appear to be engaging in a sexual act. This caused a further uproar and exacerbated the wounds left by the child sex abuse scandal which is now cost the Catholic Church in Vermont a lot of money and their diocesan headquarters in Burlington. The Church is selling off land in order to pay the settled claims.

“It is disturbing to travel throughout this beautiful diocese and to realize what was and what now is. It is no longer those halcyon days of 1950 when vocations were plentiful and the Catholic Church had many in its ranks to provide for its many ministerial services,” Bishop Matano stated in 2006. As the Catholic Church’s insistence upon excluding lesbians, gays and transsexuals as well as forbidding contraception and taking a reactionary view about abortion, believing that any abortion is wrong no matter what, the Church will continue to hemorrhage members.

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5 Responses to Catholic Church In Vermont Loses A Fifth Of Its Membership

  1. Tim H

    June 15, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    Interesting that the US Census shows that Vermont’s population rose 2.1% from 2000 to 2009 while the population of the US as a whole rose 9.1% during the same period.
    Reference http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/50000.html.

    Maybe Catholics are simply moving away.

    -Tim-

    • Bridgette P. LaVictoire

      June 15, 2010 at 10:49 pm

      Tim H,

      Vermont has always had a slow rate of population growth. Something that you would have known if you can actually done anything like check the trend rate. Incidentally, Vermont has a lot lower indicators of promiscuity than most Catholic nations and heavily Christian states in the nation.

  2. Tim H

    June 15, 2010 at 10:15 pm

    Perhapse both the loss of Catholics in Vermont and the rise of a conservative theologian to the papacy are both the holy spirit’s reaction to rampant sexual promiscuity, of which Vermont’s same sex marriage law is symptomatic.

    -Tim-

    • Phil

      January 8, 2011 at 9:50 am

      Vermonters are just disgusted with an arrogant, out of touch clergy.  It meddles unnecessarily in peoples affairs.  Their response is simply to leave.

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