Over the past 40 years or so, in America at least, the numbers of shepherds of the flock has been on a downward spiral.
Worldwide, the picture is just as bleak.
What does this mean for the Catholic Church? Why is it that the cathoic population continues to increase, yet those called to the priesthood and religious life continues to decline?
Why would that be? Do vocation patterns go around in 40 or 50 year cycles, so it’s nothing to worry about, or is the catholic church in a crisis.
Why would it be that if the catholic church is the One True Catholic Apostolic church founded by Christ and more than one billion catholics worldwide believe and profess this, are there not more catholic men and women discerning a call to fulfill a vocation.
Is this not indicative of a very deep underlying problem - namely, that despite the catholic in name numbers going up, there are not enough catholics sufficiently attuned to their faith to be listening for a calling to the priesthood or religious life?
Or, on the basis that the gates of hell will not prevail againt her, do people think this must be the will of God, for some better or higher purpose?
If it continues, will this force the catholic church to be more ecumenical with it’s interactions with other denominations. Would such a crisis if it continues for example hasten the full communion of the orthodox and lutherans to Rome?