Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI), from his book Faith and the Future
Then Cardinal Ratzinger wrote this in 1971. Today (Oct 18th, 2012) over 40 years later, this article appeared: Vienna archdiocese to cut parishes by 75 per cent which was referenced in a CAF thread of the same name. Notice this is happening in Vienna, in the country of the Pope's birth and greatest influence. Here's an excerpt:
The archdiocese’s 660 parishes will be merged over the next decade into around 150 larger parishes, each served by three to five priests and offering regular Masses.
Mr Prüller told the American Catholic News Service that falling numbers of clergy and laity had made the changes necessary. He said smaller affiliated communities within the parishes will be run by lay volunteers authorised to conduct the Liturgy of the Word.
Prüller said archdiocesan bishops would draft the new parish boundaries and steps for implementing the reorganisation by January 1.
“The Church’s mission of apostolate and evangelisation isn’t just the responsibility of parish priests, but of the whole community of baptised and confirmed. If this reorganisation creates more vibrant Christian communities, praying, celebrating Mass, conducting mission and helping the needy together, then it could offer a model for Church reforms throughout Europe.”
“This is about a new cooperation between priests and laity from their common Christian vocation,” the cardinal told the news conference, which was reported by Austria’s Kathpress news agency.
“We have to free ourselves of the traditional image that the Church is present only where there’s a priest and stress the common priesthood of all baptised,” he said.The operative word is "if." Sounds good. Sounds like something I'd like. But people who want to run things are usually the last people you want to run things and the lay people who show up are going to not necessarily be anyone we'd want leading us. The average parishioner will just be glad those Communion services are so short and still won't know any theology.
Who's really going to end up in charge?