PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- It's a diocese racked with scandal, and, at the same time, undergoing a radical reorganization. You'd expect to see a drop off in attendance, and there has been, but not as much as you might expect.
"People may be upset, repulsed if you will, with the actions of some priests, but their faith is in something deeper," said Fr. Nick Vaskov.
Mass attendance varies from parish to parish. In some, it's down sharply; in others, not much at all. But, on average, the diocese says participation is down nine percent.
Given the lurid details of clergy sex abuse, and reduction in the number of masses as part of the "On Mission for the Church Alive" reorganization, the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese is relieved the numbers aren't far worse.
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While parishioners are struggling, the vast majority have not voted with their feet.
"I have conversations with people very often who say that, 'I need to continue to struggle with what has happened, and what we can do about it, but my faith is in Jesus Christ, and that's something deeper and I cannot leave that,'" said Fr. Vaskov.
Donations are also down, but the diocese says it can offer no figures on just how much. But, KDKA has heard from some parishioners who still attend mass but are withholding their donations.
While many parishes depend upon an uptick in Christmas and year-end donations to make ends meet, Bishop David Zubik took pains to assure parishioners that they're contribution would not be going to a newly-established compensation funds for victims of clergy sex abuse.
"No funds from this program will come from Our Campaign for The Church Alive, nor Catholic Charities, nor from parishes, schools or any other fund designated by specific use by donors," he said.
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