The Modern Priest Shortage

The Modern Shortage Of Priests

Is Religion In Decline?



According to the Catholic University of America, for every 100 priests who die or leave the church, only 30 or 40 replace them. Unless the church changes its policy, the Milwaukee priests argue, in a matter of years the Catholic priesthood in America might become an endangered species.

“. . . New priests are in short supply nationwide . . .

Last week, Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens received a dire warning that the shortage of priests in their diocese had reached a state of crisis. The shortage is so severe, Bishop Thomas V. Daily said in a pastoral letter in the diocesan newspaper, that each parish must report its membership numbers and needs in preparation for possible mergers and cutbacks.

. . . according to a survey conducted in 1997 by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate . . . the number of parents who approved of having a son or daughter pursue a church vocation declined by 25 percent from 1964 to 1974 . . .

In the last 20 years, ordinations of priests in the Diocese of Brooklyn have dropped 92 percent, church records show. But the situation there is not nearly as sire as in many other dioceses in the country. In parts of the West, the South and the upper Midwest, priests are assigned to several parishes, rotating among them like circuit riders.

These days, it takes a determined young man, one willing to buck the culture and risk the disapproval of his family, to become a priest.”

‘If you go to a family reunion,” Father Burns (Edward J. Burns, executive director of the Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation with the National Conference of Catholic Bishops) said, “and a young unmarried couple were to walk in and say, ‘We’re living together for about two and a half years now, no one at the family reunion would say anything. They might whisper about it, but they wouldn’t say anything disapproving to them.

“But if a young man were to walk in and say, ‘I’m thinking about going to seminary and entering the priesthood,’ you can be sure a couple of family members would pull him aside and say, ‘Are you sure you know what you’re doing?”
The New York Times, November 19, 2000


“Catholic Church Closes Seminary in Ireland
The Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, which once exported priests worldwide, closed another theological institution. The church is left with only one seminary in the predominantly Catholic nation. The directors of St. Patrick’s College in Thurles, in southwest Ireland said their seminarians would transfer to the church’s flagship seminary. Maynooth College near Dublin. St. Patrick’s had once specialized in the export of diocesan priests to America and Australia. About 180 still serve in the USA.”
USA Today, Friday, August 30th, 2002


“In Goodbye! Good Men, author Michael Rose interviewed over 125 seminarians to examine the reasons why the Catholic Church now faces an alarming shortage of priests. (From 1966 to 1999 the number of seminarians dropped from 39,638 to 4,826)…”

“Clearly, infallibility is not what it used to be . . .”
– Walter Truett Anderson




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