Catholic Church in Scotland faces 'crisis of closures' if members spend more on Netflix than tithes

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(CP) Catholics in Scotland would much rather spend their extra cash on streaming and football matches than support their local parishes, which could ultimately lead to their demise, according to a new report.

A spokesman for the Scottish Catholic Church told The Times U.K. that a wave of impending church closures might be the only hope of helping to "wake up" Catholics, particularly in lower-income communities.

The Catholic Church in Scotland faces what he called a "perfect storm" of financial challenges, including declining attendance, a rise in expenses, and the ongoing impact from the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the Times, the Archdiocese of Glasgow saw its income plunge from about £26.5 million, or approximately $32.3 million, in 2018 down to just £10.8 million, or $13.1 million in 2021.

While the Archdiocese of Glasgow is Scotland's largest, each of the nation's dioceses has seen a drop in revenue since 2018, while Glasgow and two others run a deficit, the Times reported.

"With a few exceptions, attendance and income in every diocese are down significantly following the pandemic. The reduced income has started to bite," the spokesman said.

While a priest in the Glasgow archdiocese was quoted as warning of a "crisis of closures" if the decline in attendance continues through 2023, an Edinburgh priest told the Times the church has always faced a problem with financial stewardship.

"Catholics have never been good with money and that includes us priests. I wasn't taught anything about the economics of running a parish while I was at seminary," he said.

The Scottish Catholic Church is warning parishes in neighborhoods already struggling with lower incomes and higher unemployment could feel the most pain, as many can hardly keep up with routine maintenance and others face "spiraling" insurance costs.

Any sustained drop in attendance could mean even more closures, the spokesman said.

"If the situation does not change then the next few years will be a really stressful test of the financial viability of parishes and sadly many may fail," he said.

He also called on Scottish Catholics to "examine their financial priorities," pointing to their contributions to the church compared with other spending.

"If someone is spending more on Netflix subscriptions, football season tickets each month than they donate to their parish, then a financial reality check is probably in order," he added.

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