In a move finalized this past week by the Archdiocese of Miami, a letter from Archbishop John C. Favalora was read by pastors of 14 Roman Catholic churches on Sunday morning informing their congregants that their parishes would be dissolved. Many parishoners wept openly, most prayed, while some younger boys and girls sat quietly alongside their parents, secretly rejoicing that they would no longer have to sit through this weekly dose of hell called Sunday Mass.
The Archbishop's letter explained that the Diocese, already reeling from past charges of financial malfeasance and sexual misconduct by some of its priests, was mired in the economic downturn like everyone else and had to cut costs to survive. Citing decreased offerings, significantly lower bingo revenue and dwindling rummage sale totals, the Archdiocese had no choice but to shutter some underperforming parishes.
Critics noted, however, that the majority of churches to be closed were located in predominantly poorer ethnic neighborhoods; two in Haitian areas, two serving black neighborhoods, one Brazilian enclave and others with abundant elderly congregations, as well as disbanding its youth ministry program and seven schools.
A spokespriest for the Diocese, who did not wish to be identified, said, "We regret the loss of these churches and their members. However, our principal stockholders in Rome left us no choice but to weed out some of our less productive profit-centers. Some parishoners with a good track record of giving to the church will be offered membership in the remaining churches. Unfortunately, most of the parishoners will have to be let go. This was strictly a business decision. We want them to know that we appreciate their years of faithful service to us and wish them well in their future endeavors."
"We also must advise our former parishoners," he continued, "that any attempt to seek out a non-Roman Catholic denomination for spiritual comfort and guidance will be met with the high likelihood of eternal damnation. We would, therefore, suggest that any members who cannot be relocated to another parish continue to send their tithes and offerings to the Diocese to ensure their good-standing with the Church, thereby gaining automatic entry into heaven."
Former Miami priest, Father Alberto Cutie, who resigned his position after his romance with a parishoner came to light when pictures of the popular cleric showed him cavorting with and groping a bikini-clad hottie on the beach, extended this offer to all displaced Catholics in the Miami area: "Some of you may know me as the host of Hablando con Padre Alberto (Talking with Father Alberto.) Some of you know me as Father Oprah. Like you, I, too, was forced out of the Church. I have become an Episcopalian and, believe me, it's a great place to worship, meet new people and, as the young people say, 'get your God on.' I extend to you an invitation to join us this Sunday."
In other news, the Archdiocese of Miami announced what they have termed as the 'grand re-imagining' of its former Little Sisters of Habana chapel, from an impoverished Latino neighborhood near downtown Miami, to its new building in South Beach, now called St. Citibank. Said the Archbishop, "While this may seem over the top and inappropriate to some due to the current economy, we simply had to invest in this kind of facility if we are to retain our top performers."