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I've downloaded the "Eastern Catholic Churches 2007" survey from www.cnewa.org. It is compiled from the statistics published in the Annuario Pontificio.

I only planned to scan through it (I was calculating the number of EC's worldwide for a power-point presentation I've been making) but I was so surprised and dismayed to find the numbers for the BCC and UGCC in USA and Canada, that I had to make this post.

For example, in 1990, the BCC had 268,161 members, while in 2007 it had only 96,761. Keep in mind that in the 1960's, there were an estimated 300,000 Ruthenian Catholics in the USA.

From 1990 to 2007, the Eparchy of Passaic went down from 85,050 to 21,808, Van Nuys tumbled from 17,125 to a mere 2,863, Parma from 22,202 to 12,371 and Pittsburgh from 143,784 to 59,719.

The UGCC eparchies in the US collapsed from 158,533 (1990) to 102,678 (2007), and this is with statistics for Philadelphia apparently being changed from 2006 to 2007 (a statistical improbability). From 1990 to 2007, Philadelphia went from 77,571 to 65,000, St. Josaphat in Parma from 11,964 to 10,937 -- well, that's not so bad -- St. Nicholas in Chicago from 28,000 to 10,000, and Stamford from 40,998 to 16,741.

The UGCC in Canada plummeted from 201,957 (1990) to 85,586 (2007). Winnipeg fell from 49,350 to 29,740, Edmonton from 40,907 to 28,750, New Westminster from 7,700 to 7,835 (ok, that was growth, not shrinkage), Saskatoon from 24,000 to 8,395 and -- most terribly -- Toronto, from 80,000 to 10,866!

I actually find some of the statistics of collapse to be unebelievable. I find it hard to believe, for example, that the Eparchy of Toronto, with 65 parishes and more than half of Canada's UGCC priests (131 out of 257 in 2007), has a flock of merely 10,866. Surely it must be a lot bigger than that?

Coming back to the BCC: how can Van Nuys have a mere 2,863?

I understand that UGCC statistics in the Ukraine had been too optimistic in the 1990's up to 2000, and have been revised downwards in the past few years to lower and more realistic levels. (Indeed, the statistics I'm referring to have overall UGCC figures being revised from 5,159,533 in 2000 to 4,223,425 in 2007). Surely, though, statistics being revised to more realistic levels does not account for the tragic rapidity with which the BCC and UGCC in the North Americas are shrinking.

If these figures are accurate -- and that, I guess, is a big IF -- the BCC and UGCC are facing a serious crisis and may very well disappear from the North Americas in 20-30 years, barring a new wave of immigration and a rapid and powerful renewal. (Or perhaps they'll end up being rolled into a single jurisdiction once more, given the smaller numbers.)

May this pilgrim know why this crisis has become so severe? What do you think?

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I think the Eastern Catholic Churches need to seriously consider a new evangelization plan for the Eparchies. In fact the entire Catholic Church needs to consider this and get moving!
Stephanos I
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Originally Posted by asianpilgrim


The UGCC eparchies in the US collapsed from 158,533 (1990) to 102,678 (2007), and this is with statistics for Philadelphia apparently being changed from 2006 to 2007 (a statistical improbability).


I should have said "UNCHANGED", not "being changed"

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asianpilgrim,

Speaking as one 'pilgrim' to another (:D), here's something to consider when you look at the numbers, especially those published in the Annuario Pontifico...

Over the past couple of decades, many, MANY canonical Byzantine Catholic have relocated to areas which are not serviced by a parish of their own sui iuris Church and have, along with their families, 'defaulted' to membership within the nearest Latin parish. These Byzantine families have, for the most part, broken all ties with their Byzantine heritage and are, for all intents and purposes, living their lives as Latin Catholics - yet they officially remain Byzantine Catholics! Each one of them impacts the numbers you see in the Annuario Pontifico by a factor of two - one fewer Byzantine AND one more Latin Catholic.

This 'exodus,' if you will, has been in effect long enough now that new generations are being pulled in. Example: A Byzantine husband and wife relocate and join a Latin parish; they settle into liturgical life of their new, Latin parish, assuming (incorrectly!) that registration at a Latin Catholic parish 'automatically' now makes them Latin Catholics (it does not); a baby comes along and, quite naturally, they have their child baptised in their Latin parish, again assuming that the child is 'officially' a Latin Catholic as well (he or she is not).

The fact is, without a Change of Canonical Enrollment this entire family is still 'officially' Byzantine Catholic! Even the child baptized in the Latin Church is officially a Byzantine Catholic! Yet it's a safe bet that none of them will ever show up again in the official roll call of Byzantine Catholics published in the Annuario Pontifico. Now, multiply this same scenario by thousands (literally!) of occurrences over the past couple of decades and it's not hard to see how the numbers get falsely skewed. There are thousands upon thousands of Byzantine Catholics in the USA alone who don't even know that they're Byzantine Catholics! It wouldn't surprise me if, in fact, the 'true' numbers of canonical Byzantines actually showed a year-to-year increase over these past couple of decades, just as a result of children being born into these canonical Byzantine families... yet the numbers will never again count these people as the Byzantines they actually are. They are, truly, the "Lost Byzantines."


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Agreed- and I think it is also worthwhile for the Ruthenian and Ukrainian Church at least, (if not all of the Byzantine Churches)to consider merging back into one Metropolia.

On the hopeful side, our younger couples and families in our parish, under 40, have great zeal and love for the Byzantine Rite, and it could be that we will see a influx of people as they study the history of the Church and the fathers. However, some of them are transfers from the Roman Rite, which is okay, but we need to reach out to new converts, people unchurched or lapsed.

I think we need to make connections with the Emergent Church movement. There are several streams in that movement. Some of them admire the history of the Church, especially spiritual practices such as Icons, spiritual readings, the Divine Office, etc.

Our Byzantine services such as the akathist hymns, give voice to the characters of the scriptural narrative. We contemplate the annunciation, for example, from the perspective of the angel or the Mother of God. We in this way become part of the narrative, which is what many people with a postmodern perspective seek to do.

I think there is tremendous opportunity before us with the emergent church movement. People in this movement have a suspicion about American versions of Christianity.

Over and against the postmodern perspective, we do proclaim an absolute objective truth. But we also represent traditions that are far deeper and diverse than the typical American Christianity. I believe that the postmodern seeker of truth can find meaning in our Byzantine Churches and traditions.


Lance

A Byzantine Christian in a Postmodern World

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C^BA ICYCY XPUCTY!
Please more.

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The question of generational migration out of and into Byzantine Catholic communities would be a good Ph.D. dissertation in Sociology of Religion, among other areas of study. Many Romans who were disaffected with liturgical reforms came into Byzantine Catholic parishes, including those of more conservative bent who are home schooling their children.

Regarding outward movement, a well documented range of issues impacted immigrants and their 1-3 generation descendents. These include liturgical and cultural elements, a desire to belong, and breakdown of ethnic communities that tended to hold ethnic-based ecclesial communities together. Protestants and Roman Catholics in the West knew each other - even where conflict existed. Eastern rites seemed more exotic and, yes, more strange in some regards.

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The Toronto UGCC eparchy figures are indeed hard to believe, though I see an equally surprising increase for the Toronto "Slovaks". I suspect that a transfer of juridction may have been involved.

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You know, surely, the comment that there are lies, damn lies, and statistics. To that please add "ecclesiastical statistics". I strenously doubt that any of this figures is based upon serious research.

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Fr. Serge is doubtless correct about the need to add a fourth and more egregious category of statistical misinformation to the standard three.

I fear, however, that any error in the UGCC, BCC and other EC stats in the Annuario is more likely to be one of overstatement than understatement. (The tendency of the stats to vary only minimally year-to-year suggests that overworked ecclesiastics (at parochial or eparchial level in one of the Churches here, in the Apostolic Delegation if that is where data are consolidated, or in Rome) have simply plugged in old numbers rather than chase down accurate current ones.

This would seem to bode ill for at least some Eastern Catholic Churches in this hemisphere. The time has certainly come for a serious study of what is happening in our faith communities, and why. If the lessons learned cannot be applied to revitalize the BCC and UGCC, perhaps they will provide helpful insights for other Eastern Catholic (and Orthodox) Churches who may have been lulled into a false sense of security (as indeed were the UGCC and BCC in past years) by a surge in numbers caused by immigration.

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Incidentally, who is going to pay for a genuinely scientific survey of who goes to what Church?

Fr. Serge

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Hopefully some graduate student(s) might be inspired to undertake this for a masters or doctoral thesis (work in the area has probably already been done). This and related topics would be ripe areas for an academic career, including publications. That kind of research can benefit the particular churches and not cost any investment on the part of the churches. Moreover, it's better if there is no ecclesial investment as such sponsorship of research can sometimes lead to pressuring the researcher to lean one way or another when presenting outcomes (not to say that academic advisors do not add their own pressures).
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It is not always clear if the statistics reflect an estimate of the number of (Eastern) Catholics or the actual number of registered parishioners. Probably the number of people who are canonically (Eastern) Catholics is higher than the number of registered parishioners.

It is therefore interesting to compare the number of Catholics (whether estimated or registered) and the number of baptisms, which is likely to be quite accurate.

According to The Official Catholic Directory 2007[/i], there are 67,515,016 Catholics in the United States and 1,018,152 baptisms, making 15 baptisms per 1000 Catholics.

The [i]Annuario Pontificio 2006 reports 976,181 Eastern Catholics and 8123 baptisms in the United States. This makes 8 baptisms per 1000 Eastern Catholics, well below the national average.

However, there is a lot of variation in the number of baptisms per 1000 Eastern Catholics:
Greek Melkites (14)
Maronites (13)
Chaldeans (10)
Byzantines/Ruthenians (8)
Syriacs (8)
Ukrainians (7)
Armenians (6)
Romanians (5)
Syro-Malabars (3)

There is even greater variation from one eparchy to another. The Archeparchy of Philadelphia reports 3 baptisms per 1000 Catholics; the Eparchy of Saint Nicholas of Chicago reports 21. And while the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh reports 5 baptisms per 1000 Catholics, the Eparchy of Van Nuys reports 26.

The Greek Melkites and the Maronites are closest to the national average, while the Syro-Malabars for whatever reason have a very low number. On the whole, though, I suspect the Eastern Catholic Churches in the United States are doing quite well given the huge geographical distances and the impossibility of having a presence in every city or even in every state.

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When I was a Melkite back in the mid 1990s, two large Lebanese families joined the congregational church. Unfortunately, both families have volunteered to go on missions to the Holy Land to convert more Eastern Christians (Byzantines and Orthodox) to the protestants.

They wanted Bible studies. When I asked them about the Holy Sacraments, especially Holy Communion, they mentioned that they were all priests, prophets and kings. They were quite content to participate in the monthly communion service at their protestant church.

They really did not know their faith.

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Originally Posted by Roman
The Toronto UGCC eparchy figures are indeed hard to believe, though I see an equally surprising increase for the Toronto "Slovaks". I suspect that a transfer of juridction may have been involved.


The Canadian Slovak Catholics are quite invisible on the Internet and seem to have very few parishes and communities.

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