National Media Watch

Catholic Churches Increasing in Size

WOAI-TV, Dec. 10 — As the number of priests declines, Catholic parishes are increasing in size, said the San Antonio television station. Catholics, like Protestants, seem to be embracing “megachurches.”

According to Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the number of worshippers per parish has grown by approximately 35% over the past 30 years. While parishes in the Midwest and Northeast are consolidating, those in the South and West are building larger parishes to cater to Hispanic Catholics and other immigrants.

Several dioceses, such as the Archdiocese of San Antonio, are seeking 1,000-seat design plans for new or expanded churches.

“That’s the reality in the Catholic Church today,” said Mary Gautier, a researcher with the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. “You don’t want to build something that will be okay for now, when you know this large population is going to get bigger.”

Judge Seeks Hearing on Kopp’s Confession

ASSOCIATED PRESS, Dec. 9 — U.S. District Judge Richard Arcara asked for a hearing regarding the talks that led to convicted murderer James Kopp’s 2002 confession that he shot and killed abortion provider Dr. Barnett Slepian, reported the Associated Press.

The federal judge is exploring claims by Kopp’s lawyer that his former attorney, Bruce Barket, sought Kopp’s confession in order to win leniency for fellow client Loretta Marra, a woman who spent over two years in jail facing charges of helping Kopp evade capture after the 1998 murder.

Kopp is serving 25 years to life in prison.

“Barket was throwing my client under the train to help his other client,” said John Humann, Kopp’s attorney.

Barket responded, “I don’t think I did anything improper.”

North Carolina Consecrates Shrine to Our Lady

WWAY-TV, Dec. 9 — Eastern North Carolina now has its first shrine, St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Wilmington, according to the Wilmington, N.C., television station.

Raleigh Bishop Joseph Gossman consecrated the shrine on Dec. 8. With the consecration, St. Mary’s is being recognized as the mother church in the state.

Originally built in 1912, it was believed that Wilmington would be the seat of the diocese. Instead, Raleigh, which had been a missionary diocese since 1868, was declared the diocesan seat in 1924.

“St. Mary’s stands between two important points in history,” said Father John Gilespie, who petitioned the bishop for his church to receive the honor. “We represent the early history whereas Raleigh represents the second history.”