“It’s been a rough week” is how the Rev. Charles Zlock, pastor of the St. Mary of the Assumption Parish, started his 10 a.m. homily on Sunday.
It seemed like an obvious reference to the searing trial that ended Friday with the conviction of a senior Philadelphia archdiocese official, Msgr. William J. Lynn, on a charge of endangering children by placing a known pedophile in an unwary parish.
But the 120 worshipers attending St. Mary’s on Sunday, though upset by the case, were mostly heartsick for a different reason: After final services next Sunday, this handsome church in northwest Philadelphia, a center of life for nearby residents since 1849, is scheduled to close.
For the unsettled Roman Catholics in this 1.5 million-member archdiocese, the closing is one more blow in sweeping and bitterly contested cutbacks. Across the city, thousands are already incensed because church leaders have closed 27 cherished schools.
Even as it struggles with the revelations of sexual abuse and the failure of top officials to act, the Philadelphia Archdiocese, long considered an eminent stronghold of Catholic power and tradition, is being battered from several sides.