In 1988 Westinghouse Electric closed its flagship plant in East Pittsburgh. The move ripped the heart from the tiny borough and left an economic crater. My proud hometown — once the vibrant, pulsating center of the “Electric Valley” — never recovered. The decay was painfully slow but unmistakable in the shuttered businesses, abandoned homes and visible poverty.
Recently, East Pittsburgh lost its soul when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh closed St. Helen and St. William on Bessemer Terrace (“Catholic Diocese Closing 3 Churches in Parish Mergers,” March 24). Angry parishioners felt the bishop’s bottom-line lance in their backs.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh was built on the works and sacrifices of the faithful in towns like East Pittsburgh. For decades the parishioners filled the pews and collection baskets and funded Catholic schools. Parishes and towns prospered. And so did the diocese.
Now, when a forsaken East Pittsburgh needs a sign of hope, the church that dispatches missionaries into untamed wilderness in search of souls turns away. Bless yinz. Now, gotta see about that new school in Cranberry.
Is this Pope Francis’ message of ministry to the poor? I think not. And while true faith lives in our hearts, not in bricks and mortar, I don’t think Jesus would agree either.