71-year-old Bishop Kmiec celebrated his 25th anniversary as a bishop this past Sunday at St. Joseph’s Cathedral. There were protesters out in front of the church prior to the start of the service, and both the Mass and subsequent reception at the Adam’s Mark Hotel were only modestly attended, by maybe 400 people. The church was maybe half-full.
Given the size of the banquet facility and the six carving stations that the hotel set up, I suspect that the number of invitees and expected turnout was much larger than what actually occurred. I suspect that many people who were invited might have used this as a way to protest the spate of church closings that the bishop has implemented since he became Bishop of the Buffalo diocese, and showed their disdain by refusing to attend.
But the good Bishop is merely being prudent. He is tailoring the size of our diocese to reflect the local Catholic population and the availability of diocesan priests. He is downsizing. He is making hard – and unpopular – decisions in the harsh light of reality.
If only our politicians could do the same, but they have neither the foresight nor (apparently) the backbone to face the reality of a shrinking population center. Government is not shrinking at all to reflect the size of our community.
I admire Bishop Kmiec for doing something very difficult. I wish our current politicians could do the same.