1,000 Freiburg parishes shrink to 40 mega parishes

A German archdiocese plans to convert 1,000 parishes into 40 mega parishes.

The move by Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg comes in the face of the Vatican blocking a similar plan in another German diocese.

Burger says creating the mega parishes is an adequate response to the challenges facing our archdiocese.

“At the moment, I see no reason to make any changes to the objectives and the main features of the project,” he said.

On its website, the archdiocese uses Canon Law to argue for the mega parishes.

“According to canon 515 §2 it is ‘the diocesan bishop alone’ who can establish, abolish or change parishes; provided due process is adhered to.

“Despite the present suspension of the implementation of the decisions of the Trier synodal assembly, we believe that neither the Congregation for the Clergy nor the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts will restrict this fundamental right of the bishop to exercise his pastoral ministry.”

The Archdiocese of Freiburg, has almost 1,000 priests and serves 1.8 million Catholics.

Official statistics published in June say 22,287 people formally left the Church in the archdiocese in 2019.

The Vatican intervened last month to stop the Diocese of Trier from merging its 887 parishes into 35 larger parishes.

The intervention by the Vatican stopping the move by the Trier diocese came following a three-year diocesan synod.

The Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy and the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts raised concerns about “the role of the pastor in the leadership team of the parish, the service of other priests, the conception of the parish bodies, the size of the future parishes and the speed of implementation.”

A final decision by the Freiburg archdiocese is due by the end of the year.


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