In a comment thread on Facebook connected to my last post a commenter wished that I “would stop agitating on the side for a dubiously preferable Youngstown merger.” He insisted that my efforts toward “the Youngstown option” undermined my efforts to save the Diocese.
I was surprised by this critique because I didn’t recall pushing that idea on this site. So I looked back and reviewed my posts.
As background, “The Youngstown Option,” as it’s been dubbed, is the idea that if Steubenville is to be suppressed, then it would make more sense for Jefferson, Belmont, and Carroll counties to merge with Youngstown rather than Columbus. The other ten counties of the present Diocese of Steubenville would go to Columbus.
I’ll admit that when I first heard news of the intention to suppress Steubenville my immediate reaction was, “Yeah, probably makes sense, this Diocese is struggling. But Jefferson County should go into Youngstown rather than Columbus.”
So my knee jerk reaction on October 10, when The Pillar first reported about the intended merger, was for The Youngstown Option.
But then I got educated.
Since then I adamantly oppose the suppression of Steubenville, regardless of whether we go to Columbus or Youngstown. I wouldn’t have launched this site if I didn’t.
And on this site I have posted 16 times overall, this being the 17th. I have mentioned Youngstown in five of the previous 16 posts.
The first post was about the economy. The City of Youngstown came up as I discussed the way in which the collapse of the steel industry affected the whole region. In that same context I mentioned Pittsburgh. I did not mention the Diocese of Youngstown at all.
The second post was the text of the letter I sent to multiple bishops. In that letter I specifically say that Steubenville is in better shape than either Columbus or Youngstown. In other words, even though a merger with Youngstown isn’t on the table, I went out of my way to say it would not be a solution to our problems.
The third post noted how much better Mass attendance is in Steubenville. I was making the case why Steubenville is in better shape than both Columbus and Youngstown.
The fourth was on the Q&A Bishop Monforton did in The Steubenville Register. The bishop answered a question about merging with Youngstown by saying the merger with Columbus would be more advantageous. I replied to that with a few ways in which The Youngstown Option could perhaps be seen as more advantageous — reasons the Bishop didn’t even attempt to address. I was hardly advocating for that Option, just playing devil’s advocate to his answer. I don’t think an honest reading of that comes out as advocating for The Youngstown Option, merely as pointing out the utter insufficiency of the Bishop’s answer.
And then the fifth mention was today’s post on the letter sent by the Vicar for Clergy in Columbus as a follow-on to the meeting of the Columbus College of Consultors. That letter contains the only major discussion of The Youngstown Option that has been officially presented. In my post I reiterated what I had said in the Q&A post, and then replied to the terrible reasons given in the letter for Columbus to get the whole Diocese and The Youngstown Option not even being considered. But there again, I was endeavoring to show how little regard the bishops and non-Steubenville priests involved in this discussion have for the faithful and clergy of Steubenville.
I believe a fair reading of the post bears this out.
So I hope that clears things up. I oppose the suppression of Steubenville, regardless of whether we go to Columbus or Youngstown. I believe Steubenville is in a better position to right her own ship than any merger could provide.