[quote="GEddie, post:7, topic:213926"]
For what it's worth, and I am not a priest, just an average sinner:
There was bound to be a downturn in ecclesiastical vocations after the mid 1900s in the developed world; simply because young men have so many more life choices than in the past. (An 82 year-old priest from Tipperary, Ireland, told me that his choices in youth were "the monastery, the army, or emigration to England.") If fewer of them choose the intense sacrifice of ecclesiastical life, that is only to be expected. It does not equate to a crisis. In poorer nations, the ecclesiastical downturn we have had was not seen.
Yes and no. Some negative observations over my short 35 years:
-The Church was less encouraging of vocations over the last 40 yrs. I visited my diocesean vocational office when I was 19 and the sister who ran it greatly discouraged me. "Whatdaya wanna be a priest for? And if you become a priest, why not join an order where you can live in your own apt, have autonomy, be a CPA and a priest?" That kind of talk.
-One heard less about vocations in church. Growing up, I remember hearing adults ask, "Are there still nuns?" It seemed the Church had decided to de-emphasize the role of priests and religious and gave many the impression there was nothing left TO JOIN.
-Lack of good examples. Father became a family friend, a therapist, your buddy. I remember thinking of my parish priests when I was growing up as seeming bored with the life and out of touch with their own priestly duties.
-Hearing stories from guys I knew in the seminary in the 1990s being bullied by an overseeing board, mostly made up of feminist sisters who encouraged them to date, they were permitted to bring girls to their rooms, discouraged to be devotional. They were nicknamed, "PODs," short for "Pious and Overly Devotional." The guys I knew at a big diocesean seminary had to hide out in their rooms to pray the rosary in whispers as a group, couldn't spend much time in the chapel, hid their Marian devotion, hid religious pictures and conservative theological books under their beds. They told me more liberal seminarians would inform on the more devout. They weren't allowed to pray the Liturgy of the Hours in common, as a group.
-Changes in the Church brought about a change in attitudes toward the Church in greater society. People seem to forget that. We Catholics are everywhere, we're a huge percentage of the population all over the developed world. As the Church goes, so does society. When the Church, by all appearances (and I am not blaming the Second Vatican Council) seemed to change and modernize and seemingly de-emphasize things like the clerical role, the faithful rolled right along with the punches. That effected much of the change in attitude toward the Church on this issue and many other issues in public life.
-So what was left to join? In this day and age, a young man choosing the priesthood is making a very radical statement against the grain of contemporary values. Choosing a life of service with a commitment to chastity, obedience and often to poverty as well requires a major sacrifice. If by all appearances a priest or religious is nothing more than a swinging bachelor, a social worker, what is there to join? Why not join Green Peace and be done with it?
So many other things I could list here...