of the Eucharist
There's no shortage of priests; the crisis is in 'modern' dioceses
The announcement seemed like a mistake. Last year the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy released a statement saying that the worldwide crisis of clerical vocations had ended. Speaking to journalists on March 30, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos reported that there were 109,828 seminarians around the world -- an enormous increase from the 60,142 in 1975. Moreover, said the cardinal, the number leaving the priesthood was greatly decreasing. The seminaries were burgeoning in places like Poland and Africa.
The reason it seemed like a mistake was because the opposite is true in the West. In the U.S. many parishes now have to share priests, and even Ireland now has a crisis in vocations. From 1970 to last year the number of seminarians in the land of St. Patrick dropped from 750 to 91. So bad is the situation in Western Europe that Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels has warned the Church there is facing extinction. "We've reached a very low level," he said. "It's the same level as in Holland, France, Switzerland, and even Germany."
Yet the Vatican says there's no crisis, and the Vatican of course is correct. The problem is not in the traditional Church. It's in Western modernism. It's in the watering down of tradition. It's in the materialistic and hedonistic and intellectualized countries of the West. Entering a life of celibacy in a society immersed in sensual images -- a society that treats faith, self-control, and abstinence as nearly psychological disorders -- is an extremely difficult task. That we have anyone doing it is a testimony to the awesome will of those fine young men called to the priesthood!
And that these young men survive many of our seminaries is equally remarkable. Once they wade through the rejection they feel in wanting to become a man of the cloth, they then have to encounter long years of training in which they are all but buried in philosophy and liberalism instead of the rudiments expounded in Rome. We have heard from seminarians who have had to hide their devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and recitation of the Rosary (this is actually disallowed in some seminaries; at one East Coast seminary a group of young men met to pray the Rosary behind closed doors in a basement). In other cases the very entrance of young men into the priesthood is blocked by "modern" administrators who don't want traditional seminarians or even by feminist nuns who are now in some cases in charge of the screening process! [see related story]
If they do manage to make it they are often then challenged by liberal classmates or discouraged by homosexuals who openly flaunt their deviation but have been allowed to remain in seminary and in some cases are openly favored over heterosexual candidates.
This seems especially prevalent in liberal dioceses and it's no wonder they're crying about a priest shortage. Some such dioceses produce just one or two new priests a year. In parts of the Northeast they fret that the day will come when a priest will have to tend to an entire vicinity.
That's due to modernism, for the opposite is true of traditional dioceses. Those places that expose the Blessed Sacrament, have a Marian devotion, and possess a traditional flavor produce plenty of vocations. The Church is not dying; neither is the priesthood. It's the liberal and psychological approach to the Church that's on its way out. One especially devout parish we visited in Indiana produced more seminarians one year than the entire rest of the diocese. Meanwhile, traditional dioceses such as those in Lincoln, Nebraska; Wichita, Kansas; Arlington, Virginia; Fargo, North Dakota; and Peoria, Illinois regularly produce more seminarians than dioceses three or even five times their size!
Why? Because the Holy Spirit is there.
Why? Because they encourage devotion to the Blessed Sacrament.
Why? Because they train detachment from the world instead of a succumbing to secular forces.
Peoria ordains an average nine priests a year while liberal places like Milwaukee, with far more population, ordained just two priests one recent year and Detroit -- with 1.5 million Catholics (seven times the size of Peoria) -- ordained only eight a year between 1991 and 1998.
Meanwhile dioceses that have shifted in a conservative direction have seen vocations skyrocket: there were recently 61 seminarians in Atlanta where in 1985 there were just nine.
In some liberal dioceses it's like the bishops are going out of their way to discourage vocations -- wanting more lay or nun involvement -- while in other cases homosexual behavior among seminarians who should be thrown out has discouraged other candidates. In some dioceses feminist nuns are in charge of screening candidates -- weeding out those who are traditional or who oppose female priests.
We have met many fine liberals. They often have great compassion, empathy, and humility. A liberal priest is not a "bad" priest, and in the same breath, we've seen our share of problems with those who claim (sometimes in an extremist way) to be orthodox.
But enough is enough: the Pope has clearly demonstrated that strictness and orthodoxy are what Christ intended.
"It seems to me that the vocation 'crisis' is precipitated and continued by people who want to change the Church's agenda, by people who do not support orthodox candidates loyal to the magisterial teaching of the Pope and bishops, and by people who actually discourage viable candidates from seeking priesthood and vowed religious life as the Church defines these ministries," noted Archbishop Elden Curtiss of Omaha one recent year.
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