Will a Shepherds crisis force the Catholic Church to be more ecumenical?

Over the past 40 years or so, in America at least, the numbers of shepherds of the flock has been on a downward spiral.

See Here

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?

Hmmmm…

Sometimes a crisis is necessary to wake people up.

I agree there are a lot of Catholics in name only(Ted Kennedy, Nancy Pelosi, etc.).

As Catholics, we put our faith in God’s purpose. We don’t always understand, but God’s ways are higher than our ways.

No. The Catholic Church will not compromise her doctrines. She would cease being Catholic if she did.

God promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church.

I agree, and wouldn’t expect her to. The question might be would she be willing to give up one of her disciplines, that being the celibate priesthood? Of course, the answer might be if there is evidence that it is indeed celibacy that is causing the shortage. I wonder if there are figures about the eastern Catholic Churches, which allow for married priests, if they, too have a growing shortage, or even the Orthodox.

God promised the gates of Hell would not prevail against His Church

We may be wounded by division, but the gates of hell will not prevail.
Jon

I believe Eastern and Protestants are losing. I don’t think celibacy is that big of a factor (my anecdotal experience). Our seminaries are full, here in St. Louis. We have a 100% increase and need to add on. I believe Saginaw (former diocese of our current archbishop) also has a 100% increase. I’ll have to look up the statistics.

In any event, my grandfather was an Evangelical Lutheran pastor, married with 5 children. That didn’t prevent him from having affairs with his parishioners. He got moved around a lot. (sounds like that Catholic priests). I am not saying this is prevalent among Protestant pastors, just saying I don’t believe marriage solves morality problems.

Hello Friend. I personally think that this statement of yours is the core of it. My guess is only a third of Catholics in America today honestly know most of what the Church teaches. I’m not upset with anyone, I just think the we Catholics should understand that the Church is a family and like all families, while the authority comes from top to bottom, the sense of community must also come from bottom to top. I mean I feel inspired by the pope and connected to him in a way. But how to I communicate that to my fellow brothers and sisters? Well I show them love and respect and support and I expect the same from them because that’s what a universal family is.

I would like to also suggest, in my own limited understanding and personal opinion, that ecumenical work is not meant alone to strengthen the Church but is also to bring back those that missed the mark on what Christ teaches. In the same way Christ gives us guidance and challenges to teach us, we are called to bring those guidance and challenges to the rest of the world. “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28: 19)

Morality issues wasn’t my point. Sorry if you took it that way. Protestants have no room to talk about immoral clergy - it is a plank and speck issue - and I view the vast majority of Catholic clergy, and most clergy for that matter, to be good, moral, albeit sinful men.

I was really looking for a comparision of clergy in communion with Rome - Latin rite as comapered to eastern rite(s). If you find stats on that, it would be quite interesting.

Thanks,
Jon

Glory to Jesus Christ!

I wonder if the Catholic Church would be willing to relax its discipline for celibacy, at least for diocesan priests. Then, the bishops can come from monasteries or religious orders. I know that there would be many Catholics here who would be vehemently against such an idea. With many parishes on the brink of closing, I think a married priest would be better than no priest at all.

It generally works in Orthodox parishes because the priest is dealing with a smaller number of parishioners, so it might be tough to say how well it would work out for Catholics.

In Christ,
Andrew

Andrew,
That was my thinking, but without statistics from eastern Churches in communion with Rome, we really don’t know if celibacy is the issue. As the son of a Lutheran pastor, I understand first hand how busy and dedicated a pastor/priest must be to his parish, and therefore the value of the celibate priesthood, but…

Jon

Well I am one of those Catholics who do not think it is a good idea for Latin Rite priests to be married except for rare cases. Personally I think this opens up a large Pandora Box for us. I am perfectly comfortable with Eastern Catholics with some of their priests being married, this is because they come from a different culture and things have worked out differently. While Roman Catholics in some parts of the world function well with married priests, the Catholics I am generally around would not in my opinion.

OK, Eastern Rite Churches in communion with Rome allows for married priesthood IF they were already married before entering deaconate. They may not marry afterwards. Orthodox Churches have varying rules, but all restrict marriage or remarriage after death to a certain degree.

newadvent.org/cathen/03481a.htm

I’m having trouble sorting through all the Google results. I’ll get back to you later. Maybe somebody can help me out?

They have to marry before taking Holy Orders – similar to Deacons in the RCC. However, they do not have to be married before entering the seminary. I have read that many Eastern Rite Seminaries will actually wait to confer Holy Orders until after a marriage.

Actually, what strikes me even more is how few permanent deacons there are in the RCC. For the USA, the number of permanent deacons is a little less than one-half of the number of priests, but for the RCC worldwide the number of permanent deacons is a little less than one-tenth of the number of priests!

From what I understand, there is a lack of knowledge among the laity, in general, about the office of the permanent deaconate. This is probably related to how, according to statistics linked somewhere else on this forum, that at any given day only 31.4% of registered Catholics are in attendance at Mass. Some of these are dedicated people that go several times a week, which means that that value drops under 30% excluding those that attend daily Mass.

I think the days of just moving anywhere the wind blows are long over. For the good of my soul and that of my families’, I don’t intend to move anywhere that I can’t find a good solid traditional Catholic church.

Outside of these places, outside of FSSP chapels and ICK oratories and the like, I think you’re likely to see Priests with 7 or 8 parishes more and more, where they do the rounds, like a Bishop moving from one to the other parish for sacraments as best they can, and Communion services with Deacons will be on the increase. In place of the holy Mass.

Lord send us Priests.
Lord send us holy Priests.
Lord send us many holy Priests.
:byzsoc:

Well. I dont see 30 percent of nearly 3,000 parish members at daily mass 3 times a weekday. More like 20 and on a good day nearly 30. I am guessing people are on summer vacation, and attending elsewhere though.

I don’t think it will make it more ecumenical. I think it will push the laity into becoming more involved, and also make have to make room for some Protestant fashions.

If Protestants can run their churches very well with married clergy, I fail to see why the Catholic Church cannot also do so. It may mean creating a separate order of married priests, but so what?

Considering the rather poor homilies we get (or at least that’s been my experience since becoming a Catholic - my former Protestant experience is that they leave us for dead in most cases), we could possibly hear gifted speakers amongst the laity being authorised to preach. I recall the current Cardinal Pell of Sydney saying the most powerful sermon on Christ he’d ever heard was preached by a layman, Malcolm Muggeridge.

Yes, we have Hector Molina in our archdiocese who preaches. He is a married layman. Archbishop Burke asked him to start the Office of the New Evangelization in St. Louis. He is DYNAMIC!!

I do think that the number of priests will soon increase, as our seminaries are definitely over crowded.

Two comments, Bob,

=Bob Crowley;5524309]I don’t think it will make it more ecumenical. I think it will push the laity into becoming more involved, and also make have to make room for some Protestant fashions.
If Protestants can run their churches very well with married clergy, I fail to see why the Catholic Church cannot also do so. It may mean creating a separate order of married priests, but so what?

For those averse to “protestant fashions”, one might portray it as Orthodox or Eastern Catholic fashions. :wink:

Considering the rather poor homilies we get (or at least that’s been my experience since becoming a Catholic - my former Protestant experience is that they leave us for dead in most cases), we could possibly hear gifted speakers amongst the laity being authorised to preach. I recall the current Cardinal Pell of Sydney saying the most powerful sermon on Christ he’d ever heard was preached by a layman, Malcolm Muggeridge.

The strong homiletics in some Protestant traditions sometimes comes with a price -and that being a lack of emphasis on the Eucharist, which should be the center of Christian worship.
That’s not to say both can’t be done.
Jon

Theoretically we could do very well with married clergy, but it isn’t so clear that we would do very well with married clergy. For one thing a lot of Catholics simply don’t want them. And I’m not just talking about “Traditionalist Catholics” (who, numerically, are much better represented here on CAF then they are in the “real world”).

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