The Vienna archdiocese, which is one of the largest in Europe and extends from the Czech frontier down to the southern Alps, will undergo radical parish reforms, reducing its 660 parishes to 150 in the next 10 years.

“This is the most comprehensive reorganization of the Vienna archdiocese since that of Austrian Emperor Joseph II [1765-1790] 200 years ago,” Cardinal Christoph Schönborn told journalists at a Sept. 19 media reception in the archbishop’s palace in Vienna.

The main reasons for these measures were the increasing shortage of priests and the steady decline in the number of Catholics, especially of those who regularly attended Mass and were involved in their local parishes, the cardinal explained.

“I am fully aware that these reforms denote a far-reaching change of perspective,” Schönborn said. “We must take leave of the traditional concept that the church is only present where there is a priest. That is a restricted view that has developed over time but which must now be corrected. Church is community, and leading offices in the church should in principle be carried out collaboratively, even if the parish priest has the final responsibility according to canon law.”

Seventy-five percent of the Catholic parishes in Austria will close within a decade. That’s staggering.

First there was this. And then there was this. And now there’s that. The Austrian church is in a mess. 

Seventy-five percent of the parishes, marked for extinction. It’s like divine judgment, or something.

UPDATE: Meanwhile, from historically tragic church news to contemptibly asinine church news, here are the text messages from the Orthodox (OCA) bishop of Chicago to a 22 year old recent convert, re: his eagerness for some pastoral sexytime. The young woman tried to keep His Grace at bay, but he wouldn’t stop, so she made a formal complaint about him to the Church, which suspended him. In a superclassy response now made public, His Grace blames the woman and her boyfriend for getting it all wrong about him, and making it where he can’t have friends.

Honestly, these people. Honestly.