Open To Suggestions: From Church Mergers To Addiction, Persisting Issues Call For Uncommon Solutions

May 5, 2018

The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said a year ago that its many parishes and church buildings could no longer be justified given current finances and clergy shortages.

Bishop David A. Zubik announced plans last week to reduce its current 188 parishes over six counties to just 57 over the next few years. Each grouping will have two to five years to decide how to consolidate the churches in their purview, and be served by a clergy team.

Reporters Natasha Lindstrom with the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Peter Smith with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Mark Kramer for PublicSource have been covering the story.

Next up...

Adult film star Stormy Daniels performed four shows at Blush in Downtown Pittsburgh this week as part of her "Make America Horny Again" tour. Her visit came on the heels of a defamation lawsuit filed against President Donald Trump and claims that a cash payout made to the actress in return for a non-disclosure agreement was reimbursed with the President's personal funds.

Daniels has said the NDA, which she later opted not to honor, mandated she never speak of an alleged year-long affair she shared with Trump a decade ago, shortly after Melania Trump gave birth. Reporter Colin Deppen of The Incline joins us to talk about her two-night engagement and the political maelstrom behind it.

Later in the program...

A new prediction model based on the details of confirmed opioid-related deaths suggests the corrected number could mean thousands more people have died nationwide due to opioids than previously thought, and separate data show Pennsylvania may be one of the hardest hit.

CityLab reporter Linda Poon explains how sewage-based drug epidemiology is developing in Cary, N.C. It seeks to measure opioid concentrations in public wastewater that would develop a baseline of local consumption.

And Keeley Ashbaugh is, in many ways, a typical 8 year old full of energy and adoration for those she loves, but she's also indicative of a fight raging across Appalachia and a child welfare system ill-equipped to meet her needs. The Post-Gazette's Rich Lord and Stephanie Strasburg paint an intimate portrait of the McClain/Ashbaugh family in their continuing chronicles of how addiction affects the Pittsburgh region.

And finally...

It's marathon weekend in Pittsburgh, and thousands will fill the streets Sunday for its 10th annual running. To mark the occasion, Post-Gazette runner and reporter Gretchen McKay shares a story for every year in her new series "10 Reasons Why."

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s weekly news program. Each week, reporters, editors and storytellers join veteran journalist and host Kevin Gavin to take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here.