Bishop says more church closures are part of new reality

By Matt Porter

July 11, 2013 Updated Jul 12, 2013 at 12:53 AM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) Catholic churches across the area are continuing plans for reorganization mandated by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse

Bishop Robert Cunningham visited Binghamton Thursday and said the Catholic church wants to avoid closing churches in reorganization, but doesn't rule out the possibility.

"None of us ever like to close a church or a school," Cunningham said, "But sometimes the reality is that that needs to be done as we continue to serve the people in a greater way."

The reorganization is due to the continuing shortage of priests and declining parish populations.

Cunningham said churches organized into clusters known as pastoral care areas (PACs) must create a plan of how to best serve their communities.

"We're going through all the communities," he said. "We want to know how we can do it best given the declining population and the declining number of priests and sisters to serve."

Plans could include priest sharing agreements, but also could mean closures of schools and churches if there are not enough priests or members of a parish.

The proposed plans will be discussed with members of churches as well as their priests.

Each PAC must submit its plan by the end of the fall.

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