Outcomes of FutureChurch Ad Limina Outreach to U.S. Bishops: 2011-2012
Every five years bishops report on the status of their dioceses during ad limina visits to Rome. During the Winter and Spring of 2012, FutureChurch organized individuals and groups from many U.S. dioceses to engage their bishops in dialogue about married priests and women deacons in preparation for their ad limina visit. Nearly 25% of over 6,000 signers of FutureChurch's Open Letter to US. Bishops had earlier expressed willingness to approach their bishops. The FutureChurch board, staff and Optional Celibacy committee felt the 2012 ad limina visits would provide an excellent opportunity to engage bishops about the priest shortage. Serious declines in numbers are already present in some dioceses as evidenced by massive parish closings or mergers. Severe shortages loom in others as over half of US priests plan to retire during the next seven years.
By the end of the U.S. ad limina season (May 2012) over 400 concerned Catholics had contacted forty-two dioceses to arrange meetings with local bishops. All told, faithful Catholics succeeded in obtaining meeting in seventeen dioceses. In thirty-three cases, the local group sent letters to their bishops.