On Cathnews there is an article on the Parish of Caloundra on Queensland's Sunshine Coast cancelling Midnight Mass. Now for those of you around the world, Caloundra parish is the next closest thing to St Mary's in South Brisbane. When I last attended Mass there a few years ago the Roman Rite was almost unrecognisable, and I felt incredibly alienated by a liturgy that I did not understand. To top it off my sister accused me of being "un-christian" when I refused to talk to the person next to me before Mass when instructed to do so by the whoever that was at the ambo.
For those of you not familiar to the area Caloundra, (or rather Catholic Caloundra) is basically God's waiting room. The congregation is very elderly. They are ministered to by elderly priests, who are very much locked into a revolutionary post Vatican II mindset, and see any other opposing opinion as evil. This flows right through into the arrangement of the church and the liturgy. Actually you see here what Pope Benedict calls the "desintegration of liturgy". I will not bore you with details, you can go into the St Marys website to see that, the only difference here is that the liturgy is mainly done by 70 to 90 year old women.
After internal desintegration, here we see the first signs of a parish's corporate worship starting to disintegrate on the outside. The parish community is too old to attend a midnight Mass. The priests are too old to celebrate midnight Mass. The community feels isolated and at risk because of the drunks (pretty all of whom would have no religious belief), and the neighbours. As the community ages further it will reduce in numbers (there is really nothing attractive about the style of liturgies), and the priests will retire. The liturgies will reduce in number. It is then likely to fade away with a small "rump" left of Vatican II hippies living in the past.
The question is then what replaces it? Will the local church regenerate into a small strong church that is attractive young and welcoming??
Incidently at our local Cathedral there is one pub very close by. (There used to be two before one burnt down). We have not have any problem with drunks at all. Maybe because that the odd few drunks have to contend with a crowd of over 1,000 worshippers, and the incense chases them away. A verse comes to mind:
"There was 2 against 2000, and when the smoke finally settled we had beaten the shit out of both of them"