Diocesan Pastoral Council Weighs In on Synod, Mass Attendance and AG Report
By Penny Wiegert, Editor
June 15, 2023
ROCKFORD—The June 10 agenda of the Diocesan Pastoral Council, DPC, was packed with material for discussion providing Bishop David Malloy with considerable feedback on the Synod, Mass attendance and the Attorney General of Illinois’ final report on sexual abuse.
Kevin Fuss, diocesan director of Research and Planning and executive secretary of the DPC, provided each council member with a copy of the North American Final Document for the Continental Stage of the 2021-2024 Synod for review and study prior to the meeting. 
Fuss, Colleen Klein, and Bishop Malloy gave their personal reflections on being part of the virtual assemblies who helped prepare the document. Council members expressed their appreciation for the work of all those involved in the synodal process. Council members applauded the efforts of listening to all voices in the Church, even when they disagree.  But members also shared concerns over the misrepresentation of the process in the media. While they agreed the synodal process of listening and sharing is vital to strengthening the Church, they expressed concern about the expectation in society that this process will dictate changes in Church teaching based on secular values and not the teachings of Christ.
Also on the agenda was an update on Mass counts. Fuss presented graphs to illustrate the change in Mass attendance in the Diocese of Rockford since 2000. (The Observer reported on these trends in the April 28 issue pages A4-A5) Graphs not only reported the attendance but also reported on the number of Masses being offered in the Diocese which has remained the same since 2010. In the diocese there are 105 Catholic churches and mission churches which together offer 382 Masses each weekend. Online Masses, a vital spiritual outreach during the COVID-19 pandemic, were offered at 60 parishes in 2020 with only 31 parishes providing online Masses in 2022. Most DPC members reported increases in attendance at their parishes even though levels are still short of pre-pandemic attendance. 
The final agenda item was a presentation and discussion of the Illinois Attorney General’s Final Report on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Dioceses of Illinois. The 689-page AG report was released on May 23 (The report and statements can be found at www.rockforddiocese.org).
Bishop Malloy began the discussion with an assurance to council members that assistance to and the healing of victims will always be a priority and so will continued vigilance in safe environments and accurate reporting.
Bishop Malloy then outlined for members how the diocese cooperated in the investigation since 2018 and gave a brief overview of the measures in place to assist victims, to screen and train staff and volunteers in order to assure safe environments. The Office of Communication provided some background to the process and reported that media interest in the report on Rockford was “light” owing to the fact that all names of those with substantiated accusations of abuse have been reported and are listed on the diocesan website, and there is no one in ministry with substantiated accusations against them. 
Bishop Malloy recognized and gave thanks to members completing terms on the DPC which included Colleen Klein, Sister Mary Kay Moran, SSCM, Julieta Jacobo and Mary Rozynek.
The next meeting of the Diocesan Pastoral Council will be Nov. 18. For more information about the Council or to be considered for appointment to the council, contact your parish pastor or Kevin Fuss at kfuss@rockforddiocese.org.
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